8 Tips for Managing Labor Pain

Mom Moment 17

birthing tubBack when I was "preparing" for labor, I read all kinds of helpful stuff about managing labor pain. Like how I should practice by holding an ice cube in my hand as long as I could. Really? As someone who has Been To The Mountain And Back, that was totally unhelpful. Holding ice prepares you for labor pains my ass. Not the same thing, people! Not the same thing.

So what IS helpful? An epidural, obviously. But perhaps you want to attempt an unmedicated birth. Or maybe you just want to postpone that epidural as long as possible -- people have good reasons for doing that. Here are some pain management tips that will at least help you through the first few hours of labor before things get really insane.

  1. Vocalization: You know, screaming? I'm kidding. Seriously, though, moaning along with labor pains can help.
  2. Just move: Labor is no time to lie down! Moving around, pacing the halls, maybe even slowly dancing can help labor progress, and it helps you deal with the pain better, especially in the earlier stages.
  3. Water birth: I have friends who swear by the water birth. More and more hospitals are supplying tubs. Most birth centers have them. And of course, if you birth at home, you definitely have that option.
  4. Counter pressure: Steady, firm pressure on your lower spine can help somewhat with back labor. (But don't expect miracles.)
  5. Birthing balls: Spending some time on one of those giant, inflatable yoga balls can help relieve some of the pain. It provides perineal support without pressure, among other things.
  6. Breathing techniques: Special breathing exercises, like the Bradley Method, are supposed to be very helpful for managing labor pain and helping your labor to move along. There's also Lamaze.
  7. Hypnobirthing: This is one I wish I'd tried. Pain is all in the mind, right? Hypnobirthing is all about helping moms have a calm, relaxed labor through hypnosis.
  8. Relaxing atmosphere: Okay, this will not make the pain go away. But the more relaxed and pleasant your environment is, the easier it is for you to just focus on riding out each contraction. Some people pick out the perfect playlist, dim the lights, burn incense, do aromatherapy, kick their mothers-in-law out of the room -- all of that can help. Some moms choose to birth at home mainly because they can better control their environment. Having people who love and support you there is essential.

More from The Stir: 9 Funny & Freaky Fears About Labor & Delivery (That Might Just Happen!)

What did you do to help manage the pain?


Image via birthersage/Flickr

delivery, homebirth, labor, labor & delivery, pain management


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nonmember avatar Lisa

Actually, I found moving around to be non-helpful. The Bradley method actually has you lie down and relax as much as possible. I went into the posture they suggested and focused on relaxing all the muscles in my body. That way I wasnt tensing up and working against my body. It allowed my contractions to pass pretty quickly and labor wasnt as bad as I thought it would be. I thought of the contractions as waves, with a crest before it subsides, and focused on relaxing through the wave and it really helped me!

nonmember avatar Gretta

I labored in a tub. It helped a lot. I would never give birth in the tub though. Too risky for the baby. I got out and pushed and it was fine.

MyToe MyToe

My water broke before I even got noticeable contractions--really didn't want to walk around more than needed.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Moving, rocking, bouncing, back rubs and saying sshhhhhhhit oh so quietly helped. Haha. No lie.

kelti... kelticmom

With my labor, until I got to a six, I was fine. After that, the contractions were so intense, so close together that absolutely NOTHING helped. Even the epidural didn't work fully. There is no way I could have done it natural and it not have been extremely traumatic. And I'm a tough cookie!

Teresa Kopcik

I had 4 kids and all were natural and at the hospital....I went so fast that there was no time for medication...longest labor was 4 hours....and the pain was intense...but I made it...best wishes to new moms and congratultions to all moms....

aeneva aeneva

I used vocalization and a shower with my first which was a dry labor and it was not bad at all.  Second was back labor and I used counter pressure and moving for that one and also not bad.  Both born all natural with little tearing.

shell3m shell3m

I found getting on my hands and knees and rocking side to side while I quietly moaned and focused really helped me A LOT.  and Breathing IN instead of out also helped.  and focal points only helped me during the last 3 cm before pushing before that I had to keep my eyes closed and go inside my own mind.  :)

QueenRLA QueenRLA

I used walking, squatting, putting my arms around my midwifes neck and dangling my body, back foot and hand messages, rocking on all fours, being in the birthing tub and having water poured on my back. I used vocalization of a low moan towards the end and just relaxed my body as much as possible for it to do it's job. If I fought against the contractions they hurt more. I gave birth in the tub and did not feel the "ring of fire"that I did with my first. All of these things helped me and made it to where I didn't really experience pain so much as pressure. I did this because I didn't want to have my child's first experience be tainted with drugs and I wanted to be present and totally experience my child's entrance into the world. 

nonmember avatar Joelle

I've had 1 epidural birth and 2 natural births and all I can say is that HYPNOBABIES ROCKS!! The repercussions from the epidural were terrible, but the elation I felt after comfortably delivering my baby using hypnobabies was awesome. I would do it again and again.

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