Even before becoming pregnant, we had begun the shift toward holistic approaches to life – weaning off of allergy medication, trying healthier snack recipes, consuming homemade bone broth regularly, and many others. So we knew that when it came to pregnancy and childbirth, we wanted to take a natural path.
I did extensive research to find all the best natural pain management tools. We even took a 6 week natural childbirth class. Ultimately, I didn’t use all of these tools, but we were able to have a natural labor and delivery without the use of pain medications, which was our goal (You can read Pt. 1, Pt. 2 and Pt. 3 if you’re into that sort of thing). Hopefully some of these will help you!
- Birthing Ball – I list this one first because it was my favorite. I had a ton of hip and low pelvic pain during my last 15wks or so and I basically lived on my birthing ball. Once early labor kicked in, rocking and breathing through contractions while watching TV was the perfect combination to help with pain and distract from anxiety and fear.
- Heat – Heat has always been my go-to for pain relief. I love my rice neck wrap and I have spent way too much money on those adhesive heat wraps from the store. We took my neck wrap with us to the hospital but didn’t end up using it. However, many women report warm water being sprayed low on their back/bum to be very soothing. We will definitely pack the neck wrap again next time around.
- Water – Water birth has become huge lately. We didn’t have a water birth but I spent time in the bath a couple of times during labor. The first time, soon after we were admitted and contractions were picking up, I’m pretty sure I fell asleep in the bath because I don’t remember it! Later, when we were trying to get V to switch from posterior to anterior, my midwives had me lie with my stomach in the water and rock side to side. The motion was very soothing. Warm water was also extremely soothing during crowning.
- Counter pressure – There are several ways (and places) to apply counter pressure. The ones we used the most were the double hip squeeze and taking two tennis balls and rolling them on my low back. We put two together in one leg of a panty hose. Still today they are great for neck/back aches!
- Position Change – I almost didn’t include this because while it was super effective, I wasn’t sure if I’d consider it a natural pain management tool. But it was too helpful not to include it. Get up, move around, change position. Rinse and repeat. I cannot stress how helpful that was for me! We practiced several positions during our birthing class but there are a ton of great resources online for different positions. My favorite was leaning over the birthing ball (both on my knees on the floor and standing with the ball on the bed). Later in labor, squatting was the only thing that felt comfortable. My entire body ached from hanging from the squatting bar (I now know this was my body trying to turn V) but it seriously felt like such sweet relief every time I did it.
- Essential Oils – I am still somewhat of a novice with essential oils and I tent to err on the side of caution so I decided against using any oils that had a possible contraindication with pregnancy or babies, and any that may inhibit blood clotting. Because I was still super new to them at that point and wanted to be overly cautious, my go-to was frankincense. I had a rollerball of frank diluted in sweet almond oil. I didn’t end up using it during labor but I did use it afterward on some muscle aches and it definitely offers some relief. I also had peppermint in my bag in case I ended up nauseated during labor. I may try some other options next time around. Here are a couple of resources I looked at and will reference again next time.
- Affirmations/Hypnobirthing/Distraction – I didn’t prepare more than simply reading a book about hypnobirthing but I felt maybe it wasn’t a perfect fit. However, I know lots of women who had great success with using it. I had a sort of mantra for early labor, which was saying the Hail Mary over and over and over again while I rocked and paced. I also know several women who have said music, movies and humor helped a ton, especially in early labor. I watched my favorite Gilmore Girls episodes while in early labor and that definitely helped.
So there they are – my top 7 natural pain management tools. What would you add?