Natural Methods for Pain Control in Childbirth

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Research supports some complementary methods, but others are more subjective in a woman's experience of pain.

With research to support its advantages, trends suggest that modern women are drifting back toward a more natural, drug-free approach to bringing their babies into the world. Here are some options to manage pain during childbirth:

Water Births

Water births are highly rated by mothers who use a bathtub, birthing tub, temperature-reduced hot tub or other pool of water while in labor. The effect of buoyancy allows easier position changes for the mother. Water relieves gravity’s pull on her body which inhibits the growth of stress-related hormones and encourages the production of pain inhibitors-endorphins that complement labor. Many midwives and doctors acknowledge the analgesic effect of water.

Maternity Acupressure

This is a natural technique for inducing labor and/or pain management during labor. It is based on the fundamentals of acupuncture but uses only fingertips and thumbs on pressure points that are either compressed or rubbed in order to help with specific issues.

Doula Support

Women who choose to have a doula present during labor and birth are less likely to have pain medication, less likely to have a cesarean section and have a more positive birth experience overall. A doula’s sole focus is to provide guidance, comfort and support, and to create an environment of relaxation during labor.


Prenatal massage helps to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots and improve circulation and mobility. Therapists are specially trained in prenatal massage techniques and sessions are tailored to meet the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies.

Natal Hypnotherapy

Learning hypnosis techniques enables your mind and body to relax and practicing during pregnancy helps relieve pregnancy-associated stress and discomfort. Achieving a deep state of relaxation can diminish the perception of pain at the time of the birth.

Sensory Therapy

Aromatherapy using essential oils is popular for calming. Scents such as jasmine, juniper, geranium, clary sage, rose and lavender combined with massage may help mothers relax. Similarly, music therapy can both calm and stimulate.

TENS Device

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit is uses a low-voltage electrical stimulation to inhibit pain signals as they travel toward the brain. The stimulation pads are placed on the back, and the device may be most useful for women experiencing back labor.

Originally published in May, 2014

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