Whether you’re dead set on a natural childbirth or just want to see how things go, use Mother Rising’s tips for natural birth to decrease your pain (no matter what’s on your birth plan). But before we dive in, let’s explore why a woman may choose to have a natural birth.
Benefits of Natural Birth
The idea that a woman would purposefully choose a natural childbirth may seem illogical to those that have not investigated the subject closely. On the surface, it doesn’t make sense to not use the “get out of jail free” card, if you know what I mean.
However, looking closely at what goes along with an epidural will give us a better idea of the benefits of going without (choosing a natural birth). An epidural increases the chance of the following (SOURCE).
- vacuum or forceps assisted delivery
- low blood pressure
- urinary retention (inability to empty the bladder)
- longer pushing stage
- the administration of pitocin (which then increases the risk of postpartum hemorrhage)
- cesarean birth for fetal distress
The experiences of women that choose immersion in water, a common method of pain management with non-pharmacological births, tell us even more regarding the benefits of a natural birth (SOURCE).
- less use of epidurals
- shorter first stage of labor
- increased satisfaction with the birth experience
Also, women choosing a natural birth tend to choose upright laboring positions for comfort and pain relief. Women that choose high tech births or pain medication, for the mother’s safety or the efficacy of the medication, are more often than not, lying down. Laboring in an upright position has benefits as well (SOURCE).
- shorter first stage of labor (an hour shorter on average!)
- less use of epidurals
The benefits of a natural birth include a faster, safer, healthier, more satisfying, and less complicated birth. It makes sense that a natural birth is an attractive option to many women.
Tips for Natural Birth That Will Decrease Your Pain
The following are my best tips for natural birth that will not only decrease your pain, but also possibly shorten your birth, and increase your satisfaction with your birth experience. Who doesn’t want that??!!
Get a Doula
Hands down, one of the best things a person can do to make a natural birth more likely to happen is invest in a doula. By providing continuous labor support, a doula is a key player in creating excellent outcomes for mothers and their babies.
According to a 2012 Cochrane Review, women who received continuous labor support were:
- more likely to give birth spontaneously
- less likely to give birth via caesarean or with a vacuum or forceps
- less likely to use pain medications
- more likely to be satisfied
- had slightly shorter labors
Also, their babies were less likely to have low five-minute Apgar scores. No adverse effects were identified!
Women who choose doulas are more likely to have a natural childbirth. How awesome is that? Head on over here to learn about more reasons to hire a doula.
Hire a Rockstar Birth Team
Speaking of those we allow into our birth space, another one of the most impactful tips for natural birth is to hire a rockstar birth team. Other than a doula, the choice in care provider has the potential to make or break a woman’s experience in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
Because we can’t all hire Ina May Gaskin (sad!), a good way to find the best care provider is to speak to other women in your community. Ask them about their birth experiences, but also what they liked and didn’t like about their care provider. What is important to one woman, may not be as important to another. One woman may love a care provider that is hands off and hesitant to induce labor for convenience, and another woman may find that infuriating. Talk to a minimum of 3-5 women.
Go to the Right Hospital
Not only is it important to hire a rockstar birth team, but it’s important to choose the right birth venue. Did you know that whether or not a woman has a cesarean birth is heavily influenced by where she gives birth and not necessarily if she needs one or not? Shocking, but true. There are many articles on this topic, but here’s a good one I found.
Take a Good Childbirth Class
You know what pairs well with a rockstar birth team? A quality childbirth class. In class you’ll have opportunities to learn pain coping practices, discover how to make informed decisions, practice birthing positions, have a myriad of questions answered, address birth fears and work through what you really don’t want to have happen (dads have fears too!), and so much more.
No, not all childbirth classes are created equal. Ask a few local doulas and mamas in your community what their childbirth experience was like, what stood out to them, and what they recommend having been through it. I bet you’ll learn a lot about what your options are!
Whatever you do, make sure you take a good childbirth class earlier on before it’s too late!
Labor at Home
Our whole lives we’ve been taught to go to the hospital as soon as any signs of labor begin, however, is Hollywood the best childbirth educator? Are films and tv shows really showing us the best way to approach birth? The answer is no. One of the most surprising tips for natural birth is to labor at home instead of immediately driving to the hospital when labor begins.
If you’ve ever had experience with a laboring pet dog or cat, you likely learned to stay away and have a “hands off” approach as much as possible while things unfold. If not, the birth process becomes interrupted, and mama will take the time to find a new, safer place to have her babies.
As odd as it may seem, humans have many similarities in the manor in which we give birth with other mammals – we all need a safe, undisturbed place to get labor going and keep things moving forward. In early labor, if things are disturbed, it’s pretty easy to stop or stall labor. However, the longer we wait to disrupt things (aka drive to the hospital) the harder it is to get in the way of labor progress. For this reason, and many more, women hope to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital.
Remember the Breath
One of the most simple tips for natural birth is to remember the breath by using breath awareness – a simple, yet effective pain coping strategy for birth. Not only is this labor breathing technique excellent for a natural birth, but it’s also amazing for a medicated or cesarean birth.
No matter what type of birth you are planning, this simple and effective labor breathing technique is for you. Head on over her to learn breath awareness!
Open the Eyes
Another surprising, yet extremely effective pain coping strategy for a natural birth is to open the eyes during contractions. Research shows that keeping the eyes open while experiencing pain helps us to perceive less pain compared to those that close theirs.
Take this practice a little further and make eye contact with your birth partner, someone you love and trust, for even more pain relief. In her book, Ina May Gaskin writes about this phenomenon. When women made eye contact with their lover during contractions, their labor experience was much more positive, if not euphoric. For more information about opening the eyes during contractions for pain relief, head on over here.
Use the Tub and Shower
Another one of the most fabulous tips for natural birth is to use the tub and shower as needed while labor progresses. You know the immediate relief you feel after stepping into a hot shower or warm bath at the end of a hard day? That’s exactly how water works for pain relief in a natural birth. Shoulders drop, jaws relax, and tension disappears when a woman feels the water on her skin. The less tension, the less pain —> the less pain, the less fear —> the less fear, the less tension… and the cycle continues.
Did you know that dads can get in the tub and shower with you? Assuming there’s enough space, it’s a wonderful way for your partner to support you during childbirth.
Want to take things a step further? Plan for a waterbirth. In some cities, it can only happen out of the hospital but in many progressive places, waterbirth can happen in a hospital too. Do some research and see what your community offers!
Massage is another great way to have a less painful natural birth and works similarly to water in labor. When touched by another person in a soothing way, it interrupts the body communicating to the brain about the sensation of pain she’s experiencing during contractions. No, it doesn’t remove pain, but it absolutely decreases the perception of pain during labor.
One of my favorite positions for birth involves a laboring woman leaning forward on a ball, which gives wonderful access to her back and shoulders, which feels great when massaged during labor – especially if she’s experiencing back labor!
Bring Essential Oils
Aromatherapy, specifically the use of lavender, has a proven relaxation effect simply by inhaling the pleasant aroma. Again, the more relaxed a woman is, the less tension she experiences in her body, and when there’s less tension there’s less pain, the less pain, there’s less fear.
more relaxation = less tension —> less pain —> less fear —> (rinse and repeat)
In addition, I often observe the calming effect of aromatherapy with others in the birth room, not just the laboring mother. Whenever a doctor or nurse steps in the room, they breath deep, and in my experience, begin to operate just a little bit differently. Everyone is relaxed and even comments on how wonderful everything smells! Simply by using essential oils, care providers are able to realize that this birth is different – something really neat is unfolding in this room. How cool is that?
Aromatherapy doesn’t have to be complicated. To learn more about how to use essential oils in labor, hop on over here.
Remember to Change Positions
Remembering to change positions is another one of the best tips for natural birth. I’ve heard countless stories from women that, for whatever reason, were told to labor in bed and not change positions as needed. What a mistake! Because of this, the only way they were able to cope through the pain of contractions was with pain medication.
Contrastingly, women who were given freedom of movement, even if continuous monitoring was necessary, were better able to cope through the demands of labor even as things progressed on into transition.
For a brief discussion on some of the top birthing positions for reduced pain and length, head on over here.
Have a Strategy for Transition
For many women, one of the most painful and most feared parts of labor is transition – the part of labor that comes right before pushing, when contractions are long, strong, and close together. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to get through transition w/out an epidural, but in my experience it doesn’t “just happen”. You will need a plan or strategy to make it happen!
Head on over here to read one of my post popular articles, “How to Get Through Transition Without An Epidural” to make a plan to cope through transition.
Use Affirmations and Encouragement
Speaking of transition, one of the most effective strategies during this extremely difficult stage of labor is the use of the spoken word. Not only is it important to learn what not to say to a woman in labor, but it’s important to learn what to say instead. The right phrase or word spoken at just the right time can make all the difference.
Whether you use Mother Rising’s printable birth affirmations, or bible verses for birth (pictured below) it’s important to think about what to say and not say before labor begins. Use this blog post to get started: 10 Things to Never Say to a Woman in Labor and What to Say Instead.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
Work Through Birth Fears
Speaking of birth related fears, not only is it normal to have fears about birth, but they can actually be helpful! Assuming you don’t pretend the fear isn’t there (denial), fear can push us to find solutions and activate the resources in and around us. It’s a good thing! (And just in case you were wondering, fathers have fears too!)
The thing with fear, however, is that if not dealt with it grows and grows until it’s this big scary ball of dread that takes root in the body and hangs out wherever you hold fear and tension (I hold fear in my belly). If left untouched, it can absolutely interfere with the birth process. Remember, an important piece to labor is feeling safe. To learn more about the hormones of birth and how fear can interrupt the birth process, head on over here.
There are many ways to prepare to give birth without fear, even if this isn’t your first rodeo (and you desperately don’t want to repeat your first birth experience). For a long list of ideas that pursue a birth of peace and strength, head on over here.
You’ve got this!
Finally, on this list of tips for natural birth that will decrease your pain, is one that will hands down make for a better birth and postpartum – ways to prevent tearing. At my local hospital an OB once told me that the average first time mom typically receives a second degree tear. I was shocked! In my opinion, this doesn’t need to be reality.
The thing is, standard protocol to prevent tearing is not working and evidence based practices are not being followed. To find out more about what works and doesn’t in regards to tearing, head on over here. Giving birth does not have to be a death sentence to your vulva!
15 Tips for Natural Birth That Will Decrease Your Pain
To recap, these are some of my best tips for natural birth that will decrease your pain.
- Get a Doula
- Hire a Rockstar Birth Team
- Go to the Right Hospital
- Take a Good Childbirth Class
- Labor at Home
- Remember the Breath
- Open the Eyes
- Use the Tub and Shower
- Try Massage
- Bring Essential Oils
- Remember to Change Positions
- Have a Strategy for Transition
- Use Affirmations and Encouragement
- Work Through Birth Fears
- Prevent Tearing
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What about you? What worked best for your natural birth to decrease your pain and suffering, for a more satisfying birth experience?
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