Are there natural pain relief methods in labor that really work? Many moms wonder about this as they plan a natural childbirth – will it hurt? How will you handle it?
This three-part series focuses on helping you manage pain while you continue make good progress towards your baby’s birth. Part 1 covers handling labor as it gets more intense, and how you and your partner can work together while you’re giving birth naturally.
The right strategy isn’t to focus on pain… instead, focus on working with your baby to move him or her down. Don’t worry though, working to move your baby down and out effectively tends to provide natural pain relief in labor… and speed things up
Your birth skills, paired with common-sense, practical comfort measures during labor, give you confidence and help you stay in control and keep things progressing during labor.
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Handling Labor as it Gets Stronger
If you feel the need to make noise during labor, that’s OKAY. Women often find that making noise helps them cope. Let out deep, low moans.
High-pitched noises during labor can be counter-productive. You really want to focus on working with your body and opening to prepare for birthing your baby. A low moan with your mouth open releases tension and stress.
Respected midwife Ina May Gaskin ties this into her “sphincter law”: If your jaw and mouth are slack so is your bottom (and that’s your baby’s door to your arms)!
Try it and see. Let your mouth hang open and relax your throat. Feel that your bottom is also relaxed. Tighten up your mouth and throat – your bottom gets tense. You want a relaxed bottom for birthing and to get maximum natural pain relief in labor.
Letting out low moans opens your jaw (and thus your bottom) wide!
These moans also help you handle your contractions. Remember, that one will never come back – and you’re one step closer to your baby!
Visualizing During Labor
Some moms find visualization helpful during labor. Visualize your body opening up, your baby moving down, or other pictures that help you relax and open:
- Picture your cervix a beautiful flower blooming open.
- Picture each contraction, or rush as a strong wave reaching in, cresting, and pulling back out, leaving you more and more open.
- Picture your baby pressing against your cervix as it melts away from him or her.
- Picture yourself in a favorite place (real or imaginary), holding your baby
- Picture what will most help you.
This is really helpful in the first stage of labor, as you’re figuring out how you’ll handle birthing.
Eat, Drink, and Pee
Be sure to drink and go to the bathroom often. This keeps you changing positions periodically and give you a chance to labor on the toilet if that works for you. A full bladder hurts and can stall progress, so go frequently (Dad, this is a great way you can help with natural pain relief in labor and help keep the birth moving smoothly).
Eat if you feel the need to eat. If you’re in a hospital that limits eating drink broth or juice. Some mothers have had snacks sneaked in for them! It’s especially vital that you be getting some nourishment if your baby’s birthing is long.
Drink sips of water throughout labor. Dehydration can stall labor and cause failure to progress. IV fluids tend to over-hydrate you and your baby, which can be uncomfortable. It’s best to sip water between contractions so you stay naturally hydrated and your baby keeps moving down. This is another place for Dad to shine: offer a sip of water after every contraction, then ask if Mom needs to go to the bathroom once she’s had a minute to refocus.
How Your Husband / Birth Partner Can Help
Your partner hold can you, you can sit in his (or her) lap, dance with him, or simply have him near you during your birthing. Sometimes just his presence comforts, and sometimes practical support helps bring the most natural pain relief in labor.
Your partner is there for you, so you should ask for what you need during labor. Don’t snap – be grateful and love them for what they are doing for you (just loving them for being there can become a natural focus point for you). But don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
You can make sure the two of you communicate well by practicing before your birthing time begins. Talk about breathing, massage/touch, and other strategies to help in labor. This is helpful when you’re actually giving birth because you each know what the other is talking about!
Here are some ideas:
- Cool washcloth across the forehead
- Give you sips of water between contractions
- Dance/sway with you, supporting your weight during contractions
- Model slow breathing for you (so you don’t have to think and can calm down)
- Hold your hand
- Support you in a squat or standing during pushing
- Light or deep massage (whatever you want)
- Play music, prepare essential oils, prepare the tub/shower, etc.
Photo by goldberg