Natural Pain Relief During Childbirth
The key player in pain relief and even pleasure during birth is the hormone oxytocin. It diminishes pain, triggers pleasurable sensations and increases feelings of empathy. As the level of pain increases, as does oxytocin, allowing the body to experience both intense pain and intense pleasure at the same time. However, oxytocin is only released when a woman feels relaxed and safe. It is secreted in spurts and not continuously, and levels decrease over time unless you retrigger its release with stimulation. Anything that causes tenseness, anxiety, stress or fear can easily inhibit its release – turning a potentially pleasurable experience, into a horrifically painful one.
Pain relief is centered around getting the oxytocin flowing - creating a safe, relaxed, comfortable and stress free birth experience. Below is a list of factors that can greatly contribute to creating a pain free birth experience:
Confident, Supportive Midwife and Companions
Remember this is YOUR birth. It's an instinctive inclination to be in a private, secluded, safe location. A calm relaxed atmosphere is integral to birth pain management. Whether it be your partner, mother, sister, or best friend, choose companions who will create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. For instance a woman who has naturally given birth herself may provide much needed empathy and wisdom, while your partner may bring a sense of familiarity, security and safety.
For professional support, a doula is a trained birth support person, providing practical support and ensuring your birth choices are respected. The benefits of having a professional doula attend your birth are well documented:
- 50% reduction in the cesarean rate
- 25% shorter childbirth
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin use
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
- 40% reduction in forceps delivery
For more information about the role and benefits of a doula click here.
Repetitive movement helps you relax, helps prevent you from tensing your muscles too intensely, improves blood flow, and helps baby descend deeper into your pelvis.
Helps you focus and relax. You could try slow dancing, belly dancing, or simply swaying back and forth. Even if you prefer to sit you could still rock back and forth if you crave movement.
Provide excellent support to your pregnant body while allowing you to move relatively freely while sitting on them. You can also drape across them while you're on your knees or squatting.
Do not lie on your back
Below is a very informative and eye-opening clip about the risks of lying on your back in relation to newborn birth injuries. A must watch...
There are many other great positions to try during childbirth, for a more comprehensive list of positions have a look at any of these three charts available to download:
Imagine the walls of the cervix opening with ease and comfort, with no limit to their ability to open to whatever size needed.
Imagine the space inside your cervix getting larger and larger, opening to unimaginable proportions!
With every contraction imagine baby edging further and further down the wide open birth canal.
Imagine baby sliding down and out of the birth canal like a slippery, fun waterslide.Positive Birth Affirmation
Positive birth affirmations are the basis of the popular HypnoBirthing technique. By repeating positive birth affirmations we're able to turn negative perceptions about birth into positive ones - which has a profound affect when it comes to your ability to relax and manage pain. Here are some great examples from The Baby Dust Diaries...
"Birth is an easy and natural occurrence for which my body has been perfectly designed."
"My pelvis releases and opens as have those of countless women before me."
"My body knows how to have this baby just as my body knew how to grow this baby"
"I surrender my birthing over to my body."
"The strength of my uterine contractions is a sign of my feminine strength."
"Good strong contractions help my baby come into the world."
"I greet each contraction with openness and expansion."
"I allow my body's natural anesthesia to flow through my body."
"The power of birth strengthens me."
"I am now willing to experience all my feelings."
"This day, hour, and minute is sacred and blessed."A wonderful downloadable PDF packed choc with affirmations can be found here.
Affirmations are most effective when practiced in a meditative state, regularly throughout pregnancy, so they're well entrenched by the time the big day comes.
Massage during childbirth reduces pain, alleviates tension and anxiety, stimulates contractions, improves the flexibility of muscles, facilitates blood flow, circulation and fluid drainage, helps revitalize the mind and body, and offers a sense of emotional support. The areas of the body likely to need massage during childbirth include the back, buttocks, inner thighs, legs, feet, stomach and hands.
A laboring woman's back in particular can get extremely sore, and a good rub can make a world of difference. The back pain can be more intense than the contractions - this has been named 'back labor', and occurs in 25% of births. Usually the back pain is caused by baby being in the 'occput posterior position', in which baby's back is pushing against mum's spine. If your back is sore during childbirth, make sure you speak up, don't grin and bear it! It may mean you're experiencing 'back labor' and you need to change position onto your hands and knees to ease pressure on your spine, and receive a good back rub.
Geranium - Great for the circulation and helps breathing.
Jasmine - Warm and fragrant and has anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties. It is also very beneficial in a compress on the lower abdomen to help expel the placenta.
Lavender - Antiseptic and excellent for aching backs and limbs. It is recommended in a bath during the early stages and is wonderful for the healing of vaginal tears or episiotomy scars.
Neroli - Helps combat any fear or apprehension.
Rose - A very feminine oil and is a uterine tonic which helps to regulate labour.
Ylang Ylang - Very calming and helps lower the blood pressure.
Clary sage - Can be used as it is a sedative, with analgesic properties.
Reflexology and Acupressure
Reflexology and accupressure both involve the application of pressure, to points on the feet or hands (reflexology) and the rest of the body (accupressure), which effectively correspond to various organs and systems in the body. Massaging and applying pressure to the following pressure points during childbirth effectively lessens pain:
Between the puffy pads under the big toe and next toe
Just below the centre of the ball of the foot
All along the inner ball of the foot
Upper buttocks between dimples
Between thumb and forefinger
Along the middle crease of the palm
Either side of the archilles
Arnica reduces fatigue, bruising, and trauma; it controls bleeding, prevents hemorrhaging, and minimizes the strain on soft tissues. After childbirth, it eases afterpains, assists in the contraction of the uterus and relieves retention of urine after long childbirth.
During childbirth it's recommended to take 200c potency Arnica every 3 hours, and continue this dosage throughout the day after delivery. From the second day onwards you can use the 30c potency every 3 hours.
A Wet Dose can be made by mixing the arnica with spring water.
Vitamin E prepares the cervix and perenium for stretching, encourages skin healing and reduces scarring after injury. It is recommended to take 800 units of Vitamin E every 3 hours during childbirth.
Hot or Cold Application
Face cloths or cloth nappies, and a bucket of steaming hot or icey cold water
Wheat or rice packs frozen or heated
Hot showersIt can be useful to focus the hot or cold on your back (especially when experiencing 'back labor') or lower abdomen. It can also be useful to have a washable pouch to place a hot or cold pack in, which has an elastic belt with velcro fastenings to wrap it around your abdomen and hold it in place.
Perineal Castor Oil Pack
Caster oil helps relieve prenatal pain, makes perineal tissues supple, helps prevent perineal tearing, and has healing and restorative properties. A heat pack increases blood flow to the area, relieves pain, and improves circulation. To make a caster oil pack...
Use only cold pressed castor oil.
Soak a soft cloth in the oil, wring it out, and put it on your perineum.
Place a heat pack on the cloth – make sure the heat pack has a waterproof cover or the caster oil will soak in and stain it.
Leave it as long as needed.
|A mini hot water bottle makes a|
great water proof hot pack
Perineal massage lubricates the tissue making it softer, more supple, and more flexibile. It also familiarizes you with the stretching sensations of birth, helping you learn to keep your perineal area relaxed, thus preventing tears.
Here are some excellent step-by-step instructions by Birthing Naturally…
Perineal massage is usually done by the mother herself, or her partner. It can be done for up to 10 minutes a day during the last four weeks of pregnancy.
Wash hands thoroughly. Ensure there are no sharp or long nails that may scratch the mother.
Locate the perineum, directly below the vagina. It is the skin between the vagina and the anus. Apply some cold pressed and pure oil (such as olive oil) to this skin.
Place the thumbs at the base of the vagina, allowing them the slide inside the vagina (to about the first joint) moving some oil with them.
Using gentle but firm pressure, move the thumbs from the base of the vagina up the side walls as if you were making a "U".
Return the thumbs to the base of the vagina, and repeat procedure.
As the mother becomes more comfortable with the stretch, you may increase the amount you stretch the skin.
Pelvic & Abdominal Muscle Exercise
The ability to relax the pelvic muscles during birth is immensely helpful. Think of the pelvic muscles like a door that needs to relax and open in order to let baby through. Tensing these muscles prolongs birth, increases pain, and increases the risk of perineal tearing.
The abdominal muscles, in particular the deep transverse abdominal muscles, aid in pushing baby out during the descent stage of birth. The combination of relaxed pelvic muscles and toned transverse abdominal muscles ensures you are using your body most effectively, instead of fighting against the surges (contractions). See this article for an excellent list of pregnancy exercises to help prepare the pelvic and abdominal muscles for birth.
Perineal Massage by BirthingNaturally.net
Avoiding Tears and Episiotomies by Rachel Silber
Labor Massage by NativeRemedies.com
Doula Statistics by ChildBirth.org
Point location Videos by Debra Betts
Positive Birth Affirmations by Baby Dust Diaries
Hypnobirthing Secrets by MyNaturalChildbirth.org
Natural pain relief during labor by BabyPartner.com
Arnica after birth by ABCHomeopathy.com
Unassisted Birth Tips by Pregnancy-and-giving-birth.com