Pregnancy is a very exiting time for most women but the labor and delivery process can bring much anticipation and fear. Maternal worry and discomfort lengthen labor and can contribute to fetal distress. There are many natural ways to help relieve pain and shorten the overall labor duration. More and more pregnant women are interested in natural methods that help to alleviate pain and discomfort during childbirth. These alternatives can be helpful during the birth and can replace the need for any pharmaceutical pain relief.
1. Essential oils have been shown to have psychological improvement in mood and anxiety. The oils draw on the healing power of plants to release the body’s own natural sedative by relaxing neurotransmitters. The oils can be inhaled or massaged into the skin and can begin working almost immediately. The use of these oils help to increase contractions, relieve some labor sensations and create a calming atmosphere.
2. Acupressure and massage are very effective in stimulating the body to release endorphins and inhibiting sensory conduction in the pain pathways. These techniques relax tense muscles and help to calm the birthing mother. Touch therapy can block pain impulses, promote blood circulation and stimulate the nervous system.
3. Hydrotherapy during labor encourages relaxation and can decrease pain without the risks caused by other treatments. Laboring women who took a bath or a shower for just 15 minutes reported a reduction in pain intensity compared to women who did not use hydrotherapy. Water is very successful in easing pain and anxiety associated with labor.
4. Relaxation utilizes mind body techniques that can be used to locate muscle tension and practice releasing that tension and maintaining relaxation throughout the process. Meditation, visualization and breathing techniques have a calming effect while providing distraction from the pain and discomfort.
5. Movement is very helpful in relieving labor pains as well as assisting in moving the baby down the birth canal. Changing positions can help the mother be in control of the pain. Lying down during labor has no known benefits for the mother, and actually has risks such as reducing blood pressure, interfering with blood flow to the baby and fetal heart rate irregularities. Frequently changing positions is beneficial for improving circulation and helping labor to progress.
6. Having a Doula present at the birth offers much guidance and support during the process. Having someone dedicated to creating an environment of relaxation and comfort will allow the body to release tension and facilitate labor. Woman who have a Doula present at their birth are less likely to have pain medication administered, less likely to have a cesarean and report having a more positive experience.
These methods can be used at any stage of labor in lieu of pharmaceutical drugs, posing less of a risk to mother and baby and ensuring a smoother birth experience. It is beneficial for the expecting mother to learn all methods beforehand and see which works best for her during the birthing process. With knowledge and practice the mother-to-be can take control of her birthing experience and labor with freedom and joy.