Labor Pain Management

15 Tips for a Scream-Free Labor and Delivery

Labor Pain Management isn’t just for natural childbirth.  It’s for any mom in any pain in any birth scenario.  And while we can use medications in our process I haven’t at this point so this post is from a non-medicated perspective.  

A lot of times when we talk about childbirth and the amount of pain involved women ask me HOW I could possibly have a pain-free or scream-free labor. 

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I’m going to say I remember it being painfree and I know it was also scream free.  Part of my biggest concern was I didn’t want to freak out my husband, who had to be convinced to be in the delivery room with me.  You can read the details here.

Hubs is a “traditionalist” when he was growing up men waited outside and women did all the things birth related.  After many conversations, and borderline fights I got my way and he agreed to join me.  There may have been some negotiations though neither of us actually remember what those details are.

While this was an awesome and comforting thing it also meant I didn’t want to freak him out.  Some men just don’t handle seeing their partners in pain very well, others can stay calm and supportive.  But I didn’t want to make it harder on him then the process needed to be so I searched for as much information as I could possibly find about keeping the pain as low as possible. 

Many of these techniques were used by myself and my team with the intention of reducing the pain of my first labor and I fully intend to use them ALL again in November when we welcome our new little one. I’ll happily update you with the results after that delivery. 

But since I’ve only had the one scream-free delivery I’ve also asked for feedback from some of the amazing women I’ve been priveleged to meet in this journey.  I hope you check them out for some more great ideas as I love their sites.  You can also check out the collection of Positive Birth Stories for every Mother for more encouracement and inspiration or pop on over to Share Your Birth Story I would be honored to hear from you.

Labour Pain Management can start well before you get to the delivery room.  For a scream-free natural birth here are 15 tips to help you prep for and deal with the pain of labour.
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Labor Pain Management tips for BEFORE Labor Starts

OK I know this sounds a tad off, but there are some things that you can do before you go into labor that will help!  I’ve done each one of these and even if it just helps you mentally to reduce the fear that’s a win in my book.

Understand the Reason for the Pain

My biggest tip for pain management during childbirth is understanding it is pain with a purpose. When you are fearful of what’s happening, you end up tensing up and everything is more scary and painful. When you are knowledgeable about what’s happening to your body, you can use natural tools to relieve the discomfort or pain, (like breathing, relaxation, massage, visualization, etc.).

Christina @ RaisingBiracialBabies.com

I agree with Christina, I think one of the biggest factors in reducing pain in labor is understanding that not only is there a reason but what is physically happening to your body during labor. 

This is a great explanation of what is physically happening in your body during labor. 

Open those hips up

I did a LOT of stretches to keep my hips open all the way through my pregnancy.  While you don’t need to be “yoga flexible” it can certainly help to get those hips moving and relaxing. 

If you have an office job I recommend getting up and stretching out the front of your thighs the most.  This in particular helped me to have a tear-free delivery (and yes I delivered a 9lbs+ baby in one push).

To ensure you are doing these correctly connect with a good physiotherapist for the right stretches for you.  And if possible find a specialized pelvic floor physiotherapist!  It’s one thing I wish I had done last time that I’m doing this right now and have noticed a MAJOR improvement over my last pregnancy

A pelvic floor physiotherapist can help ensure that your pelvis is in good alignment and everything is functioning the way it should.  They can also do some internal work to help relieve the tight muscles in your pelvis in a way that most other professionals can’t.  

If you can’t find a physio, get to a chiropractor, they can at least help with getting those hips in alignment and that can reduce pain not just in childbirth, but also in pregnancy.

The other recommendation I have is Pre-natal Yoga, and no you don’t have to be Gumby to do this.  Classes like this Pre-Natal Yoga Class at BirthRoots Doulas is an easy and safe way to get started.

Did you know that you can reduce the fear of pain in childbirth?  Here are 15 tips to help you prepare for Natural Childbirth and how to manage your labour pain.
Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

Do your Kegals

So first off check with your Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist on what kegals (if any) are right for you. There are a bunch of ways to do these and most of us do them in a way that can cause extra tightness rather than help develop the support you need.

If they are right for you these will strengthen those muscles you’ll need to push the baby out.  Or at least some of them.  Doing kegals is great for all our lady parts down there.  Not just for childbirth, but for our sex lives and overall health.

So go for it, and practice the heck out of your kegals.  😉 

Hire a Doula

There are a bunch of reason why you should hire a doula, but one of the great ones is that they focus on Mom and Mom’s comfort throughout pregnancy and in delivery.  

The best pain management technique I came across was during my last birth. My doula applied pressure to my lower back during contractions (adjusting positions slightly as I directed), and it really seemed to relieve the pressure. I had been induced and was on a pitocin drip, at the maximum amount, had been contracting for 12 hours, and didn’t need additional medical intervention for pain or discomfort. For perspective, going in the nurses suggested most who have pitocin are asking for an epidural after 3 or 4 hours.

Anna @ abrazoandcoze.com

Often doulas will suggest things that you can do to help reduce the pain during labor but also on how to prepare for it and understand what is happening throughout the labor.  But the big thing is that they focus on Mom only and keeping Mom as comfortable as possible throughout the experience. 

If you want candles set up, they can do that.  Want your music going? You bet they can.  Does Dad need a break? My doula sent my husband to go sleep when all he was doing was freaking me out and I need the break. 

They are also great at massaging and counter pressure to help physically reduce the pain too.

Believe me it’s worth the investment to hire a doula!  

Hiring a Doula is just one way you can help manage the pain of labour.
Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

Write a Birth Plan

Just the act of writing one up means you start asking questions.  And you never know what your options are until you ask.  So go ahead and build out a birth plan.  

While you may ignore it during the actual labor (mine stayed in my hospital bag) the research around building it helped me tremendously when it came time for the actual labor by helping prepare my mind for what to expect. 

And honestly, most of us don’t actually follow the birth plan, during your big day it’s a great idea to keep a flexible and open mind. But beforehand this is an AMAZING tool to help you get comfortable with what will be happening, what your options are and how you would prefer to see things happen.

Take a Pre-Natal Class!

Learning skills while pregnant, like Hypnobirthing, can be really useful. With Hypnobirthing you train your mind to go into a trance-like state and it helps you relax so you don’t feel the pain. It also has the bonus that when you are relaxed, labor progresses quicker!

Sasha @ www.lifescarousel.com

A pre-natal class is a great way to not only connect with other soon-to-be parents, but also collect valuable information and techniques that you can use both now and in childbirth for labor pain management. 

My biggest recomendation on this front is to NOT take a hospital-sponsored class, find somewhere outside of that and make sure you feel comfortable with the instructor so you can ask all the questions bouncing around in your head. 

Build a Mental Anchor

Ok, this one may seem a tad out there, but if you know what a Mental Anchor is you should build one you can focus on. The basics of it is a mental conditioning that when something happens it triggers a response automatically in you.

For instance, I hadn’t realized it but all through out my childhood I would hide in the shower / bathtub when I needed to relax. This built a trigger into my subconcious that when I was in water I would relax… hence, birthing in water was one of my more relaxed experiences.

But you don’t need to start with years and years of work. If you find a trigger, let’s say humming and you want to have it cause your body to relax then focus on your humming and relaxing at the same time starting now. It’s never too late to build this!

Explore your options

Ask your care provider what pain relief methods are available at your delivery location.  Some hospitals and birth centers will have options not listed here that may be right for you.

Labor Pain Management tips for During Childbirth.

All the plans in the world won’t get you through the labor without some action during the labor.   Here are some practical “in the mess of it all” tips for managing your labor pain once things get started.

Create a Safe Space

Like I said in my post The Hands-Down Best Labor Advice I Ever Found you need to create a space around you that feels safe to you. 

You can do this ahead of labor by establishing a support team around you that you trust, making a playlist for the hospital or while you wait at home.  Light some candles (I recomend the flameless ones), and even using some relaxing essential oils (especially lavender) in a diffuser in the room.

If you feel safe you are more likely to ….

RELAX

 RELAX! If you’re scared and tense, your muscles are tight and don’t relax to do their job.  I’ve had six babies…  By #5, I had learned that I trust my body and my baby, and that we women are totally freaking badasses who are made to do this.

Marie from JustPlainMarie.ca

The most important thing you can relax is your mind, there is a reason why classes like Lamaze and the Bradley Method focus on this aspect.  If Mamma is relaxed and able to let her body do it’s thing it will be easier to reduce pain.

In fact when you fear pain, you are likely to tense up, which will make any pain worse (childbirth or otherwise).  

If you want to focus on a specific part of your body to relax, try your thumbs or jaw.  Both of these are connected to your pelvis somehow (don’t as me how this is advice I was given).  And when you relax these areas your plevic floor will open up and make it easier for the delivery.

You can also use things like music or sounds, Essential Oils etc to help you relax.

For a scream-free natural birth, here are 15 tips for how to manage pain without an epidural.
Photo by Danielle Gehler on Unsplash

Get in the water

Get in the water if you can! I didn’t have an epidural and was feeling EVERYTHING. It hurt so bad. But I got into a deep, warm tub while contracting from 7-10cm and, while it didn’t get rid of everything, it cut the pain down by about HALF!

Stacey from  milkology.org

Water is an amazing pain reliever!  Especially warm water, if you have access to a tub or shower you can use it to help your body relax both in the muscles and your mind. 

I know when I delivered Baby G I had 2 showers when we were still at home and as soon as we got to the Birth Centre I was in the big tub they had prepared for me.  

I’ll say this, I loved the tub!  I felt physically lighter, like my belly wasn’t pulling me down all the time and this alone released much of the tension I was holding in my low back.  On top of that, I ended up on my hands and knees in the water, which was a really cool option because I got to catch my baby, talk about imediate skin-to-skin!

Stay Hydrated

Staying well hydrated and emptying your bladder freqently helps both with the pain management and moving labor forward. 

I know I used Powerade and water throughout my labor frequently and it helped immensely. 

Hint: pack a water bottle with a filter in it for your hospital bag, I never like drinking out of a public fountain and in all likely hood that’s all your going to have access to once you are in the delivery room.  Having one with a filter helps keep the distraction of bad tasting water at bay.

Fuel Up in the early stages

If you are going in for a c-section this may not be an option so check with your team depending on what your plan is.  But if possible and able (sometimes labor causes mom the throw up) eat something. 

The reason being that you don’t want to get hungry later or imediately after the birth.  You are working very hard (they don’t call it labor for nothing) and that burns up a bunch of energy.  So re-fuel with small amounts throughout your labor to avoid getting too low. 

Eating will also help you better cope emotionally throughout the process.  Just imagine a “hangry” Mom while in labor…

15 tips for natural pain relief, for labour pain management.  Including ways you can prepare BEFORE labour starts.
Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

Focus on your Breathing… a spot on the wall… or something other than the pain

I know this sounds really simple but you have to blow away the pain. I’d heard it before but I never really put it to good use until I had baby number 4. I literally took a deep breath as I felt the contraction coming then blew it out slowly as the pain got more intense. It helped me so much. Aside from going in the water at the last minute I didn’t use any pain relief at all.

Dela @ www.brownskinmama.com/

Ok, remember how I said to establish a Mental Anchor previously? Yeah this is where you use it!

Breath focus is something we often think about when a woman goes into labor.  The hee-hee-haw or whatever is typicaly depicted in all the TV drama of labor and delivery.  But it’s not always the way we need to focus. 

Some of the pre-natal classes I meantioned above will include breath focus, or picking a spot on the wall (avoid looking at a clock if you can) or some other physical thing to take your mind off the pain. 

My focus during labor turned out to be humming, I’m rather musically inclined so this makes sense for me.  I hummed through the majority of the labor in the birth centre. 

During the transition stage and actual delivery part I focused on twisting my husbands wrist as much as I could… don’t worry he didn’t have anything to recover from, but I found a good wrist lock rather amusing at the time. 😉 

Find something to focus on through the pain. I sung the ABC’s in my head because it was the best I could think of at the time. I also thought of a color and tried to find it around the room while spelling it out. All in my head of course.

Rachel @ www.ThisCraftyHome.com

Keep on Moving / Walk / Dance it out

It’s a natural inclination for most of us when we are in pain, or even just uncomfortable.  Often we don’t give it a lot of thought, it just happens.  We may uncross our legs or stand up, and possibly even stretch to try and get into a more comfortable position.

If you are uncomfortable, or even confined to a bed it can increase your pain levels and possibly the need for medication to control them.  So if possible get up and move.  

If you need to sit but still want to move a birthing ball can be a big help.  You can sit on it and rock or bounce, or lean on it.  Which can also open up your pelvis and help the baby come down.   Bonus, you can use it pre-natal and postpartum as well. 

And don’t just move any old way, listen to your body, it will tell you what it wants and what you need to do.  This listening will also help baby move down into the birth canal.

Bonus – movement can also shorten your labor 😉  as it helps the baby move down the birth canal.

Get out of your head / mind

Ok, this one may not work for everyone. But the sooner you can get out of your concious mind and let your body control what is happening the easier things are going to get. Your body is truely an amazing thing! I mean really YOU GREW A HUMAN! And now you are going to get to meet that human.

There are a lot of amazing and wonderful things that have to happen for you to be IN this position.

And most of them did NOT include your concious mind.

Most of the ways you can do this should be taught in your Pre-natal classes, but you can do it without that help by focusing on the sensations going on in your body.

I had one physical focal point I used (humming) through out the whole labour, it pushed me to go so far internal that I had a hard time hearing what was happening around me.

I also had a second physical focal point that I found a tad amusing when near the end I started twisting my husband’s wrist… it’s a game we have played throughout our relationship and something I’ve found relaxing every time. So I started using it about 30 minutes before baby came, it’s a great memory and it meant that I didn’t feel the need to consciously engage my brain to do it either.

Massage / Counter Pressure

I highly recommend getting your partner or doula to help massage your body. 

Sometimes this is more of an applying of pressure to the right spots.   When I was humoring my doula and husband about the labor, my doula would push on my low back in one area, this helped release the little bit of discomfort I was having due to back labor. 

Granted that also meant it took a tad longer to convince me I was in labor because it still wasn’t hurting…

Labour Pain Management tips.  Natural Uncomplicated Childbirth doesn't have to be excruciatingly painful.... here are 15 tips for your scream-free labour.
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

“Natural” childbirth doesn’t have to be excruciatingly painful.  In my experience, it is wonderful, uplifting and empowering.  And yeah it CAN be painful.  But with the help of your team and a plan going in you can reduce the amount or severity of pain. 

And there is always the option of using the medication, it’s there for a reason.  And there should NEVER be any shame in saying you need or want that medication.  So please don’t make yourself deliver in a way you don’t want to.  These tips are focused on the ways that I used and was told to try because I hoped to avoid the medications.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t also look at what I could expect if I needed to go that route. 

I think sometimes it takes more courage to ask for the help we want & need then to tough it out.  At the same point, I believe that if you had an uncomplicated pregnancy, and are having an uncomplicated delivery it is possible to have a pain free birth.  I know I did.

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