How To Best Manage The Pain During Natural Childbirth
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Have you ultimately decided to have a natural childbirth but you are concerned if you can handle the pain? Or maybe you are contemplating having a natural childbirth but you want to understand what your options are for pain management first before making your final decision. Then you came to the right place.
There are several effective and proven techniques that pregnant women use to relieve pain so that labor and delivery can be tolerable and even pain free. Continue reading to get a comprehensive list of all proven pain management strategies for natural childbirth.
Pain Management During Natural Child Birth
I want to share with you in this comprehensive list of pain management strategies what has worked for me and what is proven to be effective in managing pain.
I’m a physical therapist, and I deal with pain as the primary focus of my job. My job involves taking care of others in such a way so that they can reach the goal of having lower pain levels. So I definitely can say I know a lot about pain management!
With my 4 experiences of natural childbirth, I was able to manage my pain with a majority of these techniques that ultimately helped me to have 4 successful childbirth experiences with little to no pain. I definitely can say that childbirth was not the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I even had no pain at all during one of my childbirth experiences. It is possible.
I want to help you to have similar experiences to mine when it comes to childbirth, and I hope that these techniques can be used properly during your labor and delivery in order for you to manage your pain well.
Best Techniques To Manage Pain During Natural Childbirth
Changing your position during natural childbirth is by far the most important factor on this list. You want to find a position that’s best for you. And a majority of the time it is not lying flat on your back.
If you are given the green light to move around during labor and delivery, then take advantage of it. Get up every 30 minutes to change positions. Set a timer to go off so you don’t forget. Alternate between walking and sitting, for example. And that leads me to the next tip…
I absolutely love birthing balls. Definitely get one and bring your own (for sanitary reasons) and use it!
Sit on it between walks and bounce to give you counter pressure. The counter pressure relieve any discomfort and pain you might be feeling. Sit in a chair and lean over the ball in front of you and rock on it for back relief.
The only thing that you can consume during labor and delivery is water (some hospitals only allow ice chips), so take advantage of it and consume as much as you can to stay well hydrated.
Staying hydrated during labor and delivery can help with decreasing the intensity of cramps.
Also keep this in mind; the last thing you want to do is become dehydrated when you are pushing intensely for a period of time and get fatigued. Hydration will help give you endurance and stamina.
Did you know that fear is the number one factor for causing pain during childbirth? Sometimes pain is caused through fear which creates tension and blocks endorphins (narcotic-like pain-killing chemicals).
Having a fearless mindset will ultimately reduce the perception of pain.
If you can come into the delivery room (or whichever room you decide to deliver in) prepared mentally and having the determination to deliver your baby fearless of what might potentially happen, then you will inevitably be able to kick the pain out of the room for good!
Don’t fill your mind with what others have said or what you have seen in the movies, but instead train your mind to feel confident in your ability to deliver your baby with absolutely no pain. Speak words of affirmation and calm your mind throughout the whole process and your pain will dissipate as your tension fades.
Supporter, Partner, Doula
I don’t know many women who have done childbirth alone. I don’t recommend it. Have your partner, doula, mother, sister, friend, someone there with you by your side to speak those words of affirmation over you and coach you when you need the support.
Rely on that person to get you what you need when you need it, to help you change positions when it’s time and to help give you that amazing massage that you have been waiting for over the past 9 months!
Who doesn’t want a massage? Not us pregnant women! You have carried that baby for the past 9 months and you sure do deserve the ultimate massage right about now. If you are starting to get uncomfortable, have you partner give you a massage over your low back and slowly work up towards your neck and shoulders. Massage is a proven technique to help you relax – and when you relax, all the pain associated with the tension will go away.
I highly recommend having your partner practice massage techniques with you before going into labor and delivery so that you can explain what type of massage you actually prefer before the big day. Do you like a deep tissue massage or a superficial (surface) massage?
Did you know that essential oils can reduce pain and actually induce labor! Win-Win! You definitely want to pack this in your hospital bag. Essential oils are known to help you physically, mentally and emotionally in a natural way. Essential oils paired with massage is the ultimate bliss!
If you are looking for one basic essential oil to start with, Lavender is a good place to start. Lavender is known to be calming and relaxing. You can check out this list of the top 8 essential oils for labor and delivery.
What better way to relax your mind and your muscles than with soothing sounds that are just perfect for you. What’s your preference for relaxing music: classical, country, smooth jazz, soft rock, soca, christian contemporary, or none of the above?
Whatever your preference is for relaxing music, create a playlist well in advance and have it ready to go on your phone or ipad for delivery day. You set the ambiance in the room so that you are most comfortable and relaxed. Don’t worry about what others might think about the background music. It’s your day so you get to decide.
Since you have the music going, you might as well get up and dance! Dancing is a great way to relieve pain because it helps to get you more upright, thus changing the position of the baby and helping with descent. All of this helps relieve pressure and pain. Also, the swaying and rhythmic motion of slow dancing helps to calm your body into a relaxed state. Your mind starts to focus on the dancing movements and becomes less focused on the contractions.
Pictures & Videos To Focus On
Distractions are a must when it comes to labor and delivery. It can be a long process and there are a lot of unknowns.
Stay focused on something other than the pain and contractions.
I like to have a slideshow of pictures flipping continuously on my iPad during labor. Get your favorites out and start flipping through them and reminisce on this past year’s memories.
Maybe even play some home videos to keep your mind off of the labor. This is a great way to pass the time as you are waiting to find out how much more dilated you are.
Be Positioned Within Water
You may want to position yourself within a body of water such as a bathtub or a shower to help comfort you and relieve pain. Ask if your hospital offers delivery rooms equipped for water births where you can have access to a private tub during the delivery process.
This is a great option for most women who want a natural childbirth. Water births help women in labor to relax as soon as they enter warm water. It lowers adrenaline and encourages endorphins (the pain-killing chemical I mentioned earlier)
What most of us women have learned from generations past is deep breathing to help reduce pain. This can be true, but it’s only part of the equation.
What’s most important is breathing in a rhythmic and calming fashion. Whether you prefer deep breathing or light breathing, what’s most important is that you find a pattern that you feel most comfortable doing.
Once you find a comfortable pattern of breathing, you will then feel more calm and relaxed, and this will help you respond better to the possibility of pain.
Avoid Tension And Focus On Relaxing Specific Muscle Groups
With the breathing comes relaxation, as I mentioned. But it’s important that you actually focus on relaxing, it doesn’t just happen automatically for some.
With each exhalation (blowing the air out) make sure you blow all the tension out of your body as well. It can be easy to tense up during painful moments of childbirth, but if you are able to actively relax certain parts of your body during each contraction as you exhale, then your are more likely to reduce your pain.
Some areas I liked to focus on during my labor were my neck, shoulders, hands and back.
Ask your partner to whisper in your ear to slowly relax your neck as you breath out, and then work your way down (shoulder, then hands and finally your back). You can add other muscle groups to this, but these are some of the main areas that tend to tense up.
Heat (But Maybe Ice)
Heat therapy is known to help relax the muscles, so that’s perfect when it comes to labor time because we want our muscles to relax in order to reduce pain. But maybe you are sweating already from all the labor your endured thus far and you don’t want to have anything else to do with heat.
Try using an ice pack to cool you off, like after a hard workout. I liked having ice to give me a jolt of energy again and to help refresh me before proceeding into the next stage of labor. So I would keep both options open for you to try.
Take A Birthing Class To Become Educated
Last but not least, take a birthing class/course
I highly recommend being educated on the topic of childbirth, and this ultimately will help you to feel more prepared and confident when it comes to childbirth. Once you understand the process you will definitely have less fear about childbirth, and we already learned having less fear means less pain.
I’m currently in the process of reviewing well known birthing courses so that I can recommend to you the best one out there to help you prepare for a natural childbirth.
Until then, become familiar with The 7 P’s For Successful Childbirth. This will help you to feel more confident and prepared going into delivery day.
If you have a course, or know of a natural childbirth course that you would recommend, please comment below. I would love to review it and recommend it to my readers if it’s a good match for my audience.
Are there other pain management techniques that you have used in the past during childbirth? Comment below with your answer. I would love to learn from you and your experiences.
Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
About Dr. Jena Bradley
Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey. She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page.