If you’re looking for ways to experience a drug-free natural birth you are not alone. It is becoming more popular as families look for ways to control their birthing experience and limit unnecessary interventions. A natural childbirth is not limited to home births but can be managed in a hospital as well. Here are seven ways you can use natural pain relief during labor to experience a more comfortable delivery.
Manage Your Expectations
This is about your mental and emotional preparation for giving birth and it is a two-fold effort. First, do not listen to other people who want to tell you horror stories about birth. This raises your stress levels and sets you up for worry. Second, be prepared for all possibilities and have a back up plan for how and why you might request medication. You may not need that back up plan, but sometimes just knowing it is still an option convinces you to relax and keep trying without it.
Breathe Into It
Long, slow, deep breaths during contractions can help you focus on your breathing rather than the pain and also provide relaxation. Rather than tensing up, which increases pain, deep breathing forces your body to relax and go with its natural rhythms. Meditation may also be helpful to you, where you practice focus on each breath. Guided imagery can also enhance this.
Most hospitals limit you to ice chips and will not allow you to drink water. If you are birthing in the hospital, insist on having the ice chips to your heart’s content. If you are not in the hospital, drink water. There is no medical reason for you to not have water during labor. Not only does drinking help you control your breathing but it also limits the intensity of cramps. The longer the labor the more likely you are to become dehydrated and not feeling your optimal strength. Staying well-hydrated prior to labor commencing can also make a big difference.
Laying flat on your back throughout labor makes no scientific sense at all. In most traditional societies it was common to squat to give birth. You should follow your own instincts when it comes to which labor position you prefer. If turning onto your side feels better, do it. If squatting feels more comfortable, do it. Using a birthing ball is one way to rock back and forth (rocking can be soothing) and switch up your position.
Massage and Aromatherapy
There may be times during your labor when you don’t want to be touched, but good touch can provide amazing relief. Whether it is done by hands or with tools, massage can help relieve so much pain and relax tightened muscles. When it is done in combination with essential oils the effects on pain are striking. Lavender oil is calming, peppermint oil is energizing and may help facilitate labor and rose or sandalwood oils can be emotionally lifting. Massage can be used both as a natural pain relief and as a stimulant to help birth progress.
Water Therapy or Water Birth
More and more hospitals are equipped to offer water birth as an option and many women choose to proceed with this option at home or alternate delivery locations. Many natural birth centers offer it as well and, of course, if you prefer a home birth your tub is at your disposal. Water births are exceptionally comforting and provide natural pain relief. If you are not interested in a water birth but still would like some of the pain relief benefits of water, you can take a shower or a warm bath during labor. This is another time when aromatherapy may come in useful as well.
Like a shower or bath and similar to massage, a heat pack can provide relief to specific areas of the body where the pain is experienced. Rice socks are great because they can be easily made very cheap, microwaved and fit into hollows of your back or around your hips or shoulders. Sometimes rice socks or packs also include dried herbs so you benefit from the aromatherapy at the same time. Alternatively, a warm water bottle or heating pad can do the trick.