I gave birth to my daughter this past spring. It was a mostly natural birth, but it wasn’t completely natural as I had originally planned. Ever since then, I have been reflecting on natural labor pain management.
I want to share with you the strategies I will employ in future births to apply labor pain management naturally. You can read about my birth story here. There are some techniques I failed to use the first time around that I believe will help me deal with labor pains naturally the next time.
Hip Openers for Labor Pain Management
I sat way too much during my first pregnancy. This was mostly due to my corporate job where I had to sit for most of the day. In future pregnancies, I plan on doing more hip opener exercises more frequently the next time around. I didn’t start doing them until the end of pregnancy.
When I was at home, I would sit on an exercise ball when I was working at my desk. There are many workplaces that are allowing employees to sit on exercise balls at their desks or buying standing or treadmill desks. This is awesome! I would love for all workplaces to consider these options in the future. You may be able to bring in your own exercise ball to work, so it is worth looking into this option.
Labor Pain Management Using Chiropractic Care
Anecdotally, I have heard from women that getting chiropractic care regularly during pregnancy made a huge difference in their labors and births. They were comparing from other pregnancies where they had no chiropractic care. Intrigued, I decided to do some additional research on the subject. It turns out there is evidence that chiropractic care during pregnancy is beneficial.
A 1991 study found that pregnant women experiencing back pain during pregnancy who received manual manipulation to treat their pain experienced less pain during labor. A 2008 study concluded that chiropractic care is associated with improvements in lower back pain during pregnancy. Although more research is needed to study lower back pain during pregnancy, there is enough evidence for me to give chiropractic care a try in my next pregnancy! There is no harm in me going to a chiropractor to get adjustments for natural labor pain management.
Homeopathy for Labor Pain Management
The next time I am in labor, I plan on taking Arnica and Hypericum for natural labor pain management. Both of these homeopathic remedies are powerful at reducing pain. I will alternate between the two and take other remedies to help speed labor along and help me progress. Check out what I included in my labor bag for the remedies I used to help speed labor along.
Birth Center or Home Birth
A birth center or your own home is a more relaxing setting than a sterile hospital. I progressed very quickly at home, but my labor began to stall on the way to the hospital and slowed down a lot by the time we arrived at the hospital. Many other women have reported that their labors slowed or stalled upon arriving at the hospital.
A new birth center opened up near me a few months after my daughter was born. Check out just how awesome it is in their Facebook live video. Built in bidets in the toilets, a birthing tub and shower with many adjustable settings, a comfy bed and a diffuser? This sounds like birth heaven (as much as possible) to me! It would have been nice to have labored there, but I will consider it the next time I am pregnant.
When I was showering during labor, directing the shower head at my lower back, it helped me manage my labor pain very well and took away most of the pain from my contractions. I had the same experience when I took a bath in the hospital. The warm water from the bath and shower were very effective natural labor pain management techniques. I fared better in the tub than out of the water.
Looking back, I was nervous about staying in the water too long since I was not progressing fast enough. I felt pressured to hurry things along since my water had broken hours before. If I had been able to stay in the water, I think I could have avoided the epidural. The next time I give birth, I want to have a water birth. I have read stories from other women that say the water made a huge difference in handling the pain.
I did not practice breathing techniques prior to going in labor. I watched a couple videos in an online birth course, but I did not actually practice them. Practicing them could have helped me get through some more intense labor contractions. Every time I had a painful contraction, I would scream at the top of my lungs.
My doctor and the nurse on duty eventually told me that I should breathe and exhale using a lower voice. I found that using a lower voice did help with the intensity of the pain, but it was a little bit late in the game unfortunately. Even though I was starting to handle it better, the contractions were coming one after the other and I hadn’t progressed far enough. I had no idea when my baby was coming and it could have been a long time from then. At that point I was ready for some major labor pain management. I believe if I would have practiced breathing techniques before, this would have helped me manage my labor pain better. If you are anything like me, you would probably benefit from an in person class like the Bradley Method to keep yourself accountable.
Although the online birth course I took had videos on birthing positions to help ease the pain, I did not practice them enough. I practiced them maybe once a week. When I was in labor, I nearly forgot all the labor positions I had learned in the class. I think going to a class in person will once again help me in this area. It will help me to practice the positions more and have my mind prepared for how to handle labor.
I did try to embrace birth affirmations before going into labor. I downloaded a couple recordings. They were a little cheesy to me, but I did try to use them. One especially helpful natural labor pain management technique during my labor was to meditate on Jesus’ suffering. I knew that as much pain as I was in was nothing compared to the suffering He went through to die for our sins.
This recommendation may be controversial. I am considering trying CBD oil for natural labor pain management in my next labor. It has been shown to reduce pain and even has a relaxing effect on oxytocin-induced uterine contractions (Source).
CBD oil or cannabidiol hemp oil is made from high-CBD, low-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) hemp. This is different than medical marijuana, which is typically made from plants with high concentrations of psychoactive THC. CBD oil is made from the hemp plant which only contains trace amounts of THC. Therefore CBD oil products are non-psychoactive. I would recommend only using high quality bio-available CBD oil.
I realize there is no way to eliminate pain 100% during labor, even with the epidural (I know this from experience now!). However, I don’t see a problem with managing the pain in a more natural way. I believe all the ways I outlined are effective at reducing labor pains.