6 Natural birthing techniques that ease the pain of labor and delivery
Women today have many options for pain relief during labor and delivery both pharmaceutical and natural. In my opinion, it is every woman’s right to use the type of relief that best suits her and that she prefers, she should not be judged on any decision that she makes! However, it is important that she is informed about all the different options and the effects they may have on the labor and on her and her baby.
The beauty of using “natural” pain relief techniques is that mum and baby remain unaffected which tends to lead to a more satisfying birth experience and quicker recovery postnatally.
Here are the most commonly used “natural” pain relief techniques:
Massage and heat
This can be a wonderful way of involving dad in the labor process! Dads tend to like “hands-on” involvement and this is exactly that! There are plenty of resources available for parents to learn some really very useful techniques which tend to be incredibly effective in labor in my experience. As a doula, I often use my 2 favorite techniques which are counter pressure to the hips during surges and also firm sacral pressure using the heel of the hand or occasionally the actual heel! (This is most mums favorite).
The application of a heat pad/wheat bag can also be very soothing.
Immersion in water
I have talked about the benefits of laboring in water in a previous article and this is definitely something that should be considered if mum has no medical issues which would stop her being able to enter the water. The water is incredibly soothing and relaxing. There are different opinions about the most beneficial stage of labor to enter the water, but it is a definitely a really useful technique in early labor and then again once active labor is in progress (i.e. after 5cm dilated). There are several hospitals in the UAE who offer water facilities for during labor and birth.
Aromatherapy uses the healing power of plants with the use of essential oils. Not all essential oils should be used in pregnancy and labor so it is very important to consult a trained professional when choosing which oils to use. Both lavender and orange are used commonly.
As with aromatherapy, it is important to take professional advice when using homeopathy in pregnancy in labor. I have known lots of mums who have derived great benefit from following a homeopathic programme drawn up specifically for them.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of small needles into different parts of the body to correct the imbalance of energy during labor. This should be carried out by a trained professional and the technique is also very useful for labor preparation. I have definitely seen the advantages of many of my doula clients. Acupressure is the use of pressure on known acupuncture points. This is something both dad and a doula can easily learn.
TENS Machine (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
This is a battery powered, the hand-held controller which is connected by leads to four sticky pads which are placed on mums lower back. The machine sends small pulses of electrical current to our skin which give a buzzing sensation (the intensity of which you can control). These pulses help stimulate the lovely endorphin and oxytocin hormones, both highly beneficial during labor. Mum is in control and activates the machine as she feels a surge (contraction) beginning. I used a TENS machine during my labors and found it really effective, primarily as a distraction technique.
Please make sure to investigate each option with your doctor, doula, and spouse. Make your decision based on solid information and choose what is best for you and your baby.