You can choose from several types of pain relief for childbirth. These include medicine or breathing techniques, as well as comfort measures. You also can use a combination of these choices.
There are many ways to reduce the stresses of labor and delivery. “Natural” childbirth techniques (without medicine) may help reduce pain and help you feel a sense of control during labor. Consider:
- Continuous labor support- Having a support person with you from early labor until after childbirth has a proven, positive effect on childbirth.
- Distraction- During early labor, you can walk, play cards, watch TV, take a shower, or listen to music to help take your mind off your contractions.
- Massage- Massage of the shoulders and lower back during contractions may ease your pain. Strong massage of the back muscles (counterpressure) during contractions may help relieve the pain of back labor. Tell your labor coach exactly where to push and how hard to push.
- Imagery- Imagery is using your imagination to decrease your pain. For instance, to help manage pain, visualize contractions as waves rolling over you. Picture a peaceful place, such as a beach or mountain stream, to help you relax between contractions.
- Changing positions during labor- Walking, kneeling, or sitting on a big rubber ball (birth ball) are good options. For more information see Labor Positions.
- Focused breathing techniques- Breathing in a rhythm can distract you from pain. Childbirth education classes will teach you different methods of focused breathing.
- Laboring in water- Soaking in warm water may help with pain, stress, and sometimes slow, difficult labor.
Other techniques without medicine
Other techniques that don’t use medicine to control pain include:
- Hypnosis- This is a low-risk way of managing labor pain and anxiety that works for some women.
- Acupuncture- Small studies suggest that acupuncture is a low-risk, effective way of managing labor pain for some women.
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