HOW TO COPE WITH LABOUR PAIN: AN IN-DEPTH GUIDE TO NATURAL PAIN RELIEF
Labor can seem scary and if this is your first baby, it’s hard to know what to expect.
If this is your second pregnancy, it can be equally as daunting as you know what’s coming!
Maybe you’re wondering…
How can I ease the pain of natural birth?
What helps with labor pains at home?
How do you deal with labor pains without medication?
My first baby took a whopping 30 hours to deliver. What I learned was that as much as you plan for your labor and delivery, you never know what’s going to happen and there’s not much you can do to control it!
BUT, I firmly believe there are lots that you can do to feel more in control, feel more relaxed and have better pain relief, naturally.
For the birth of my daughter, I had a great head start at home, using hypnobirthing practices for natural pain relief.
Note that if you’ve never tried hypnobirthing, I strongly recommend that you try it, it can change the whole way you about labor and birth.
Hypnobirthing is not only beneficial for you but also for your partner. It’s so important that they know what to do and what they can help with on the day.
My partner panics if he sees me in pain so I knew I needed him to know what to expect and some of the things he could help me with.
You can do classes like we did or you can take an online course or even just buy a book (this is the one I’ve got and I know loads of people who have this same one) and download relaxation and hypnobirthing tracks here.
Before diving into the tips let’s take a quick look at how long you can expect to be in labor and the different stages.
How long does labor last?
Labor and delivery vary greatly from woman to woman and can last can last between 8-20 hours.
What are the different types of labor?
Early labor: Stage 1 – cervix is dilated to 3cm
Active labor: Stage 2 – cervix is dilated 3-7cm
Transition labor: Stage 3 – cervix is fully dilated 10cm
Can you sleep through early labor?
Some women find they can, others find they cant. Taking paracetamol and getting rest while you can, can help you relax and save some energy for later on.
How can I ease contractions at home?
Ok, let’s move on to some tips on natural pain relief methods and things you can do towards the end of your pregnancy to help cope better on the big day.
I can’t stress how important it is to feel prepared and to educate yourself on what to expect during labor and after you birth your baby.
Towards the end of pregnancy, you might have a ‘nesting’ period where you feel the urge to have everything prepared and ready for when your baby arrives home.
With baby no. 2, I started getting early contractions and the first thing that was running through my mind was that I didn’t have things ready.
This is unnecessary stress that you really don’t need to have on the day you go into labor.
I’ll probably repeat this over and over but the key to a successful, quick and painless birth is to RELAX.
Create your birth plan, you are the one who can decide what happens but is realistic.
Go to prenatal classes if this is your first baby. It’s essential and so helpful.
Get your hospital bags packed.
Meal prep some meals and snacks that you can have after the birth, You’ll be starving!
Know what pain relief options you can have during labor (if you choose to use it) and the pros and cons of each one.
Educate yourself on what to expect after birth. (For example, delivering the placenta, uterine contractions, blood loss, soreness etc) It’s not pretty but at least you won’t be in shock!
You can read the complete list of everything you need to do before the baby arrives here.
You can start practicing hypnobirthing at any point in the pregnancy, although the longer you do it for the more it reinforces it. – link to post
Some typical hypnobirthing practices include:
Watching natural birth videos
Reading positive affirmations
Reading positive birth stories
#3 Ensure that the baby is in an optimal position
Making sure that you’re baby is in the right position for delivery can help avoid complications and long labor.
Some ways you do that is by:
Booking an appointment with a chiropractor
Practicing certain yoga poses
Visit the spinning babies website for lots of useful tips
Some of these are helpful both during pregnancy and labor.
Bachs herbal rescue remedy – fight feelings of stress and anxiety. Great for when in labor.
Magnesium spray – Used in pregnancy and labor. Magnesium naturally relaxes muscles and is a great natural pain remedy. Use topical when possible as it’s absorbed much better.
Essential Oils – lavender and frankincense both promote relaxation. I love these rollerball essential oil sticks and I’m planning on using these for the birth of baby no. 2.
Paracetamol – Can be used during pregnancy and labor. Ensure to tell the midwives/doctors what pain relief you’ve taken when entering the hospital.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – tones and strengthens the uterus. Great to start drinking at the end of the third trimester. of your pregnancy.
Eat Dates – studies show that eating 6 dates a day can help quicken labor! Any excuse
Acupuncture – can help pregnancy aches and pains, can help turnabout’s breech baby an can even induce labor. (if needed naturally)
Chiropractor– book an appointment close to your due date. Chiropractors can help with aligning pelvis properly to make a quicker and smoother delivery.
Yoga – Practice yoga when possible and focus on poses that help open the pelvis.
Physiotherapist – Seeing a physiotherapist can help with birth by working on pelvic floor muscles and doing specific exercises that can help open the pelvis.
Acupressure points – Learn how to use acupressure to alleviate pain during labor and delivery.
How can I ease the pain of natural birth?
#6 Spend as much time at home as you can
When we look at animals and how they deal with labor and delivery, the one thing you notice is that they hide somewhere, usually a closed space so that they feel safe.
By getting into a safe space, our bodies naturally relax. We can get in the zone’ easier and quicker and labor is much faster.
Sometimes getting in a car or arriving at the hospital can stop labor in its tracks.
It may not be possible (or something you want) to have a home birth so this may not be avoidable.
But staying at home for as long as you possibly can help the labor progress quicker as you will feel safe and comfortable.
#7 Distract Yourself
Easiest when done at the very start of labor. Distracting yourself can pass some time before the contraction/surges start getting more intense.
Some helpful ideas include:
Watching something funny
Going for a walk
Listening to an audiobook, I LOVE audible
Read a magazine
Read a book (an easy one!)
#8 Play Music
Some women find loud music helpful to distract themselves, others find it better to have quiet music.
However loud and whatever you listen to, make sure its music that promotes RELAXATION.
You can listen to your own music or Download hypnobirthing tracks.
Top tip – use wireless headphones. they block out noise better and you won’t get tangled in the cables!
Guided or non-guided meditations. Make sure you have ones that you can access without internet connection in case you can’t get WiFi.
If you’re at home, you can use many of the free ones on youtube or use the app insight timer. It’s the meditation app that I personally use. It has so many great guided meditations and music and it’s totally free.
#10 Use Visualisation’s
Visualization is a big part of hypnobirthing.
It’s extremely helpful when guided. Use as part of a meditation or get your partner to read scripts to you to help you use visualization effectively.
Try this guided body scan relaxation video & see how deeply you will relax!
#11 Focus on Deep Breathing
Breathing is probably the best way to manage labor pain naturally.
There are so many types of breathing techniques that can help during delivery and birth, including:
Up breathing – best for the first 2 stages of labor
Down breathing – best for the ‘pushing’ part of labor and delivery
Relaxation breathing – inhale through the nose for a count of 4, exhale count of either 4/6/8
Blow out the pain – feel yourself literally blowing the pain out of your body
Yogic breathing – Nadi Shodana or known as alternate nostril breathing
#12 Keep moving
The more you stay upright and keep moving, the more you can let gravity do its job!
If you were out in the woods and you needed to – excuse the phrase – go for a poop. You just wouldn’t even consider lying down to do it!
Birth is the same.
Stay upright to allow the baby to come out quicker and easier
Things you can try:
Walk around as much as you can
Rock your hips and do hip circles (both on and off the birthing ball)
Remember, let gravity do its job!
#13 Get into the right positions to ease labor pain
There are certain positions that you can get into that can really help ease the pain of labor.
All fours squatting
Pulling or leaning on something
Top tip – Avoid lying down if possible
#14 Keep your mouth open
Ever noticed that when you feel stressed your jaw is tight shut? Keep your mouth open to not to tense your jaw.
This will allow for deeper breathing and will help you relax the rest of your body.
#15 Go to the toilet
Needing to wee – (which especially happens in labor as the baby is putting lots of pressure on your bladder) adds additional abdominal pressure.
Make sure you’re going to the toilet every 30-60minutes, or get your birth partner to remind you!
#16 Get Support
Picking the right birthing partner can determine how relaxed, secure and in control, you will feel during you’re labor and delivery.
You need the right person who will get you through the toughest moments.
A top tip is to go through what you want them to help you with before you go into labor so you feel confident they’ll know what you want on the day.
Me and my husband took a hypnobirthing course together (which I really recommend). If this isn’t something you’re partner can do consider hiring a doula.
Print out a list of all the things you want to do during labour and what you want your partner to do.
Some things might include:
Make sure the room is how I want it and remind the staff of what I want according to my birth plan.
Remind me to drink water, filling up a bottle regularly.
Remind me to go to the toilet.
Breathe me through each surge/contraction reminding me that at the height of the contraction it is coming back down.
Count my inhales and exhales.
Read me positive affirmations.
Speak softly and calmly.
Remind me of the end goal.
Encourage me on doing so well.
Say positive affirmations.
Use stroking and massage.
Read guided scripts.
Tell me to breathe and do it with me!
If your anything like me, you’ll forget – and so will your partner!
To make it easier, you can get a free summary of all these tips along with partner roles & things to do checklist HERE
# 17 Relax
As repeatedly mentioned, keeping your body relaxed is your no1 priority for you and your baby.
The more you can relax, the more you can allow nature to do its job properly.
The more stressed you are = the more pain and more difficult the labor will be.
#18 Block it out
Remember what animals naturally do? Keep yourself private, safe and hidden.
This can be harder in a hospital setting but you can.
Ask to dim lights down as much as possible.
Pack an eye mask in your hospital bag.
Request for as much silence as possible, use low voices when talking.
#19 Wear comfortable clothes
For the birth of my daughter, the midwives put me in a gown immediately as I walked through the hospital ward.
I remember I was exposed to EVERYONE.
Although I stopped noticing at one point, I’m sure in the back of my mind it was something that bothered me otherwise I wouldn’t remember, would I?
Pack something in your hospital bag that you comfortable in but also something you feel protected in.
#20 Heat and Water
Both water and heat can really help ease labor pain naturally.
If you can’t use a birthing pool, consider taking a hot shower or bath or applying a hot water bottle. You’re birthing partner can help hold it in place.
#21 Try A Tens machine
A tens machine passes electrical impulses to help with pain management. You can ask to hire it out at the hospital or you can buy one here.
#22 Use Positive affirmations
Use plenty of positive affirmations. Get your partner to read them out loud or consider hanging them around your room so you can see them visually.
#23 Try Rebozo-ing
A Mexican shawl is used to help the mother with pain relief naturally and is said to work a charm!
#24 Avoid scary words
A simple thing to do. Instead of scary words like contractions, use the words
#25 Use Massage
There are many ways to use massage to help ease labor pain naturally.
Applying sacral pressure or using gentle stroking can both help but discuss with your partner before so they know what to do.
Using essential oils can be added a bonus as the smell can help you feel calmer and relaxed.
#26 Get less physical examinations and fetal monitoring
Regular Interruptions from hospital staff can greatly slow down labor.
As part of your birth plan, you can request to have minimal examinations and monitoring.
It’s SO important to stay hydrated in labor, even when it’s the last thing you feel you want to do.
Use a refillable water bottle and get your partner to fill it constantly.
When it comes to food, eat something while you can in the easier stages.
There will become a point where you won’t want to eat and you’ll need all the energy you can get!
When possible, try to rest.
Try to sleep as much as you, while you can.
Get your birthing partner to remind you to rest in between surges.
#29 Know you can do this!
We are born to do this.
Giving birth is a natural, empowering moment for women.
Our bodies are designed to do it so trust yourself and trust the process.
On A Final Note
There is absolutely no shame in getting pain medication, its there for a reason!
As much as I wanted a totally natural birth with my daughter without any intervention at all, I did have an epidural. The labor had stalled and my contractions were very regular for a VERY long time. (There were some problems with my baby.)
You know your body best.
But, knowing what I now know has helped me clarify what went wrong and things that I can do differently next time.
You never know what’s going to happen but you can do a lot to take control of the situation and help yourself more.
That’s why I created this huge list (and a printable summary) of all the things that both my partner and I could do to stay in control as much as possible
We can do this mamas!
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