THE WOMANLY ART OF BIRTH PART 2: 33 secrets for natural pain relief in labour

Read my 33 Effective Secrets for Natural Pain Relief in Labour


We are all very careful to stay away from pain medication during pregnancy, why is it that we are offered such a wide range of pain drugs during Labour and Birth? The drugs used during birth can very negatively affect Mother and Baby because traces of the drugs are still left behind days after, as the half-life of some of the drugs is 20.5 hours and more, meaning that after 20.5 hours, half the dose of the medication is still in the system.

I have put together a huge list of 33 really effective secrets for natural pain relief in labour, which I have personally used.

  1. Go to Antenatal/Childbirth Classes or invest in a Course: Learn more about the Physiology of the Reproductive System and the Process of Birth and different stages of labour
  2. Not listening to horror stories of women who have had negative experiences during birth.
  3. Choose a Birth Partner who is supportive of the way you want to give Birth, and who you feel calm and comfortable with, not someone who causes you distress or who will force you to birth “their way”.
  4. Learn how to time your contractions
  5. Knowing your options and the pros and cons of each type of birth, and the side effects of any pain relief methods or drugs
  6. Trusting in God’s perfect Design of your body and the Perfect Process of Birth.
  7. Visualization. Take one contraction at a time, knowing and imagining that each contraction is taking you closer to meeting your baby. Imagine your baby coming out and remember that your baby too, takes action with you to come out.
  8. Use positive birth affirmations
  9. Create a Birth Plan. No, our Birth is not something that you know exactly how things will turn out, so a Birth Plan is not a script that needs to or can be, followed exactly. A Birth Plan helps to let your Healthcare Providers, your Birth Partner/s and your Support Network know what are certain “no-goes” that you will not accept, what your preferences are and in the event of certain emergencies, what your second choice would be so that you are not coerced, in a moment of extreme pain and vulnerability, into doing something which you were not originally willing to do.
  10. Discuss all your options of health care providers with your partner well in advance
  11. Discuss your birth options in advance with your partner and health care provider
  12. Research all the possible medical procedures that can be administered.
  13. Emotional support from your Partner and Family Members, they should know what is in your birth plan, be fully prepared, and do some research on Labour and birth, so that they know how best to support you.
  14. Use a Doula: Research has shown that when births are supported by a trained Doula, there has been a 50% reduction in caesarian births, average labours are 25 % shorter, there has been a 60% reduction in request for epidurals and there has been a 40 % reduction in medically assisted deliveries (ie using a vacuum or forceps).
  15. Surround yourself with pleasant smells; relaxing Essential Oils on your body or in a burner, candlelight and dim lights, darkness or whatever makes you feel comfortable will make you feel relaxed and will thus speed up labour. The aim is to reduce any possible Stress Factors BECAUSE FEAR=TENSION=PAIN. The bright lights and clinical smells and the thoughts of needles, doctors can slow down labour as it could be a cause for fear.
  16. Resting in the early part of labour- giving birth is like running a marathon, you need to rest in the early part of labour when contractions are light, and in between contractions, to save the energy for when you really need it; when pushing and looking after your baby.
  17. Practice your birthing postures during pregnancy, squat, duck walk etc.
  18. Do some exercises to loosen the hips
  19. Perineal massage (during pregnancy) and when needed, a bit of perineum stretching during pushing to prevent tearing or episiotomies and to ensure that your perineum stays intact after delivery.
  20. Changing position changes your perception, and dissipates pain, you can sway or squat or lean forward on a ball or the hospital bed or chair or your birth partner.
  21. Standing, squatting, on all fours, birthing stool, birthing ball, rocking or swaying your hips helps to relieve pain and is much less painful than lying flat on your back.
  22. Sitting on the toilet and walking can help the baby move down the birth canal.
  23. Labour Positions: learning all the different positions which can ease your labour pain and work with gravity to aid baby’s head descending in the pelvis and thus speed up dilation and labour. (More about this in another post)
  24. Emptying your bladder often: A full bladder can be uncomfortable,  inhibit labour, and slow the descent of your baby’s head
  25. Breathing with focus and intention will decrease your perception of pain.
  26. Holding rope or bar that is suspended high above your head focuses your attention on the upper body, hence allowing for relaxation in the bottom part of your body
  27. Water: You could either shower as often as you like, and the hot water beating down your back and abdomen will help relieve pain, or totally immerse yourself in a bath.
  28. Heat: You could use warm towels, warm compresses, a hot water bottle or a wheat/rice sock to relieve pain in your tummy, back, groin or legs. Here is a simple tutorial from Wellness Mama that shows you how to make one using rice.
  29. Massage: This reduces anxiety and pain, enhances your mood because massage stimulates Endorphin production and endorphins are natural painkillers and mood enhancers
  30. Counter pressure: using pressure on the areas of pain especially when the pain is in the lower back, I enjoyed when my midwife pressed my hips and lower back really hard.
  31. Eating and drinking during labour have been shown to reduce the total length of labour by 90 mins – eat easily digested foods, light snacks, stay away from anything that will make you feel bloated or anything oily that could make you feel nauseous.
  32. Eat dates: They contain a host of vitamins and minerals, prevent constipation and help to soften the cervix.
  33. Drink lots of water. good hydration means no iv fluids will be needed so you reduce the needs for further intervention and you need to keep your energy levels up.

Read about some of the ways I used natural pain relief for the labour of my 3rd child

Are you in the Port Elizabeth Area and would like to find out more about how a Doula can help you during your Labour and Birth and Postpartum, be sure to check out my Doula Services Page and holler at me if you have a question:!

Which tips or methods have you tried and have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Read my 33 Effective Secrets for Natural Pain Relief in Labour


Ina May Gaskins Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskins

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – A La Leche League Publication

Childbirth without Fear – Grant Dickly Read



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