Looking for drug-free pain relief options for giving birth?
Using drugs during labour should not be something any mother should feel ashamed about. I has diamorphine and gas and air during my labours and was happy with how it helped me.
If you do want an epidural, that’s absolutely your choice and lots of women have them. However, you will need some drug-free pain relief at some point during your labour, whether it be while you’re waiting to be far enough along in labour to be admitted to hospital or while waiting for the anaesthesiologist to arrive.
My point is, it’s good to have a few options for soothing the pain of contractions and giving birth ahead of your labour.
This isn’t about shaming people who use painkillers, far from it! It’s just giving you extra options to help you get through your labour as smoothly as possible.
Before we get on to the tips, you may want to see this article about making a birth plan featuring lots of tips for getting ready for giving birth.
And don’t forget to check out my post 21 tips for pregnant ladies about to give birth.
So, these are some fantastic drug-free options for pregnant ladies to use during labour:
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1. Get a TENS machine
These do not eliminate pain, but they can take the edge off of the worst of the contractions.
Try to hold off on using your TENS machine until the contractions get a little more intense, as you’ll find you feel the relief a lot better this way.
It works by sending electrical impulses to the specific area of your body where you put the pads of the machine.
2. Have a warm bath
In the early stages of labour, a warm bath can really help to take away some of the pain of contractions.
Try getting some soothing bath bubbles ahead of your due date, so you have something ready to use. Scents such as lavender can really help to relax you. Try lighting candles in the room as well to make it more relaxing, but don’t forget to blow them out before you leave for the hospital.
3. Listen to music
This can work as a really good distraction and help you to focus on something other than the pain of contractions.
It can also encourage you to keep on your feet and stay active during labour, which can help move things along a little faster.
Create a playlist on your phone or iPod ahead of your due date. Fill it with music that soothes and relaxes you, it’s completely up to you what you put on there.
4. Try breathing exercises
During labour breathing exercises can greatly improve your ability to cope with the pain and stop you from panicking.
When you panic and draw in shallow and rapid breaths your body does not get as much oxygen, which is vital for helping you cope with labour.
Focus on your breathing and its rhythm. Breathe in and out in even measures, with a pause after you inhale.
It can help to think of the word “relax” as you breathe, so breathe in on “re” and out on “lax”. You can also try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
5. Hypnobirthing can help you cope with the pain
Lots of people swear by hypnobirthing as a brilliant way to manage pain during labour. It combines breathing exercises with a focus on relaxation, visualisation and mindfulness techniques to help you cope with the pain.
Hypnobirthing has been shown to help manage stress levels, and the more relaxed you are the better.
Baby Centre has a great article about hypnobirthing.
6. Find a distraction
During the early stages of labour when you are at home try to find something to do around the house that will take your mind off of it.
Sitting in a state of worry that the next contraction is about to hit won’t do you much good. Take a walk around the block, sweep the floor or find something good to watch on television while bouncing on a gym ball.
Get your other half involved with this and ask them to help you take your mind off of the labour pains.
Techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can also help you to relax.
7. Let the noise out
It can be quite empowering and stress-relieving to just let the noise out.
Do not be embarrassed if you grunt, groan, shout and scream. It’s all part of labour and allowing your body to make the noises it wants to make can help you manage the pain.
8. Have a supportive birth partner
Having a birth partner who has read up on painkilling techniques can be a huge help to you.
Whatever techniques you decide you want to try, encourage your other half to read up on them too so that they can support you in following that method.
When you’re in pain it can be easy to lose commitment to a particular method. Your other half can help to coach you through breathing exercises and support you on short walks.
9. Try a birthing ball
These are fantastic for the last trimester. They can help to encourage the baby to move to the right position.
They also help you to focus on your breathing and getting through a contraction, as bouncing on the ball rhythmically can keep you focused. Using the ball can also encourage your cervix to dilate.
10. Get in the pool
Not all labour wards will have birthing pools for everyone to have a water birth. It may be a case of pot luck.
However you could try getting in a warm bath or paddling pool while you’re at home to ease the pain.
Getting into the water can help to improve circulation and promotes more efficient contractions. Warm water can both relieve the pain of contractions and soothe your back.
One last thing…
Know your pain relief options ahead of time
Understanding the different pain relief options that a midwife or doctor can administer to you is a good idea ahead of time.
You may struggle to make an informed decision when you’re suffering from labour pains, so understand what the options are ahead of time and think about what is best for you.
Even if you are adamant you will be giving birth without drugs, do the research anyway as you never know what will happen once you are in the delivery room.
What painkilling techniques have you used in labour, or are planning to use?