Note: I started writing this over two years ago while in Idaho to help my daughter postpartum. My grandbaby is two years old now and so cute! Guess what? He’s now a big brother. My daughter had another baby boy last month so I decided this post is WAAAY past due. I finally finished the draft so here you go!
My daughter gave birth last fall (correction: two years ago) so I’m a grandma now! Wow!! I am in baby land as I play the role of Granny Nanny so be prepared for a bunch of baby-related posts. It’s so fun to visit baby land without entering it through pregnancy and birth, LOL! This birth of my grandson motivated me to gather up all my tips for dealing with labor pain to share with my dear daughter.
I’ve had five natural births and two with epidurals. Yes, epidurals make birth so much easier and pain-free. They do have their risks though. Natural birth is so much more empowering, I have to say. Natural birth not only allowed me to give birth to a baby without complications but to a new me! This empowering confidence helped me as a mother tackle challenges I had no idea existed.
My natural births opened me up to a new quantum leap level of confidence. So if you are pregnant and don’t have undue stress in your life, I encourage you to learn all you can about natural birth and pain relief techniques, read tons of natural birth stories, assemble these resources, and practice relaxing and focusing despite stress. Take a childbirth prep class, like a Bradley class, or some other class that is not sponsored by a hospital. (Hospital classes prepare you to give birth in the hospital, most likely with standard hospital procedures.) Then go for it! Give birth without any drugs.
Giving birth without drugs is so empowering! You will emerge as a new woman with such increased confidence in yourself, in nature and God your Creator. As long as you don’t have undue stress to complicate matters, which I totally understand, as I did with my last birth, leading to a hospital birth, it is totally worth it to give birth to a new, empowered you! It’s such a terrific way to start off the call of being a mother with a newly-born you. I was at a higher level of being able to trust my instincts which helps so much in mothering.
I want to have another baby just so I can try them all these tips together! That’s not likely though at my age, LOL, unless I happen to hit the same fate as the actress, Laura Linney, who played Abigal Adams in the HBO series on John, and gave birth at an advanced age. It’s taken me seven births, lots of research, experiment, and talking with lots of people to learn all these tips and put them in one place! For all of these, I am assuming that you have a labor support person. Hire a doula certified by DONA if you have the money. If you don’t, ask around to find a doula in training who will do it for free to count for her training. If you can’t find one, ask your husband to be that person if you are both comfortable with that. If not, then ask a woman who has had a natural birth and then meet with her a few times before the birth to discuss these strategies and how you are going to do them together as a team. It is super important that you have a doula/labor support person. That’s the foundation for all of these tips.
OK, here are my tips:
1. Labor in a quiet, private place so you can feel totally uninhibited, relax as much as possible, and focus inward on opening up. Of course, having a home birth makes this a lot easier. You completely control who is there, how the room is arranged, what equipment you can use, and the mood. I love how Dr. Bradley taught in his book above that animals naturally seek private, quiet dark places to birth naturally. We can learn from them. For my home births, I loved dimming the lights, lighting candles, playing soft music, and using a birthing tub with warm water.
2. Get a Binsy birth skirt and a nursing bra to wear during labor, or whatever else helps you feel confidently glamorous, feminine, and pretty. Maybe a nursing swimsuit top if you want a combination top with an attached swingy skirt. I have a sassy black one that I wished I had thought to use for birthing. Truth be told, you will probably be at least half-naked if not totally stark naked by the time you give birth but at least start out with something you can nurse the baby in for when you get dressed again.
3. Take arnica 200. Josette Calabrese, homeopathic guru, claims it really helps.
4. Drink raw milk during pregnancy. Sarah Pope says that raw milk is a big labor pain reliever when you have had it a regular part of your pregnancy diet.
5. Use Bach’s Rescue Remedy. My friend Aneladee swears by this.
6. Use quiet music. I’ve used Enya, Michael Dowdle’s hymn arrangements on guitar, and a CD my friend compiled for me of several artists, including the Anne of Green Gables theme.
7. Use doterra’s Deep Blue on your abdomen, diluted with fractionated coconut oil. Oh, I love the smell of that stuff! Wintergreen oil!
Photo Credit: sophiemessager.com
8. Use the rebozo shifting technique to jiggle the contracting belly. Ooh it looks so delicious! I found this article here of a mom who shaved 33 hours off her labor by using it. She said it felt nearly as good as an epidural. If I were to do it all over again, I would practice this with my husband every night starting at 35 weeks or so. Oh, the relief of something else besides my own muscles supporting that big belly sounds so utterly glorious!
9. Have your husband or doula push on your knees during a contraction. This has helped me so much with all of my labors except for the first before I knew about it. The rebozo video above shows how to combine the rebozo with pushing on the knees. It looks wonderful!
10. Use belly dancing during a contraction. I have a girlfriend who was just telling me about this. She said she had a pain free birth because of it. I really want to try it!
11. Sing hymns using low, guttural tones deep from within your body. This totally worked for Baby #4, my 19 year old son, maybe a little too much, as the contractions/surges got so fast they were back to back! Singing the sacred words of the hymns invites the Spirit into the room, and also helps you relax and open up. This is another reason to have a quiet, private place where you can feel uninhibited to vocalize to your heart’s content.
12. Have something to squeeze. My hairdresser swears by this. She did this with her labors and tells all her pregnant clients about it. She says they all come back to her and say it works. She says you can use a bean bag or a small stuffed animal toy. Much better to use than your mother-in-law’s poor hand. 🙂
13. Write out a birthing prayer, full of affirmations that are directed to God in the form of a prayer. Have it handy so that whenever you start to feel “at the end of your rope” (transition) you can have your husband, doula, or another close friend, read it aloud. Focus on the gratitude you feel for the strong body God created you and the baby he created for you. Remember Christ’s pain that He suffered for you, and as you feel any pain turn it over to Him and use it to remember Him, that He felt that pain for you because He loves you. Focus on feeling any leftover pain for God and the gift you get at the end of this process, your beautiful baby! I did this with my last four births and it helped greatly!
14. Rock in a rocking chair during contractions. I did this with all of my home births. For many of them, I did this until I was ready to get into the pool.
15. Use a heating pad on your abdomen at the same time you are rocking in the rocking chair.
16. Use a birthing pool full of warm water. This worked for two of my births, easing the pain up through transition. At that point the water made me feel too buoyant, and I wanted something firm to grab onto, besides my husband, because I didn’t want to crush his shoulders to pieces. 🙂 I have had two water births. With my last one, I wanted to labor in water but then get out when I hit transition. This leads me to the next point, which is what I have wanted to try out but haven’t yet.
17. Have a big stick/dowel to lean on, pushing into the floor, for when the contractions are the most intense. This is my substitute for having a rope to hang from, which is a job to install unless you want to labor outside using a rope hanging from a tree. 🙂 If I could labor again I would combine using a stick with belly dancing,
I know these will help you! Of course, clear all these tips with your health care provider before using. Please let me know in the comments below what else has worked for you for pain relief in natural birth. I would love to hear!