Although pain during labour is a given, there are several natural techniques for pain relief. Here is the ultimate guide on managing pain naturally during childbirth for an easier delivery.

Pain during labour is caused by the contraction of uterine walls and pressure on the cervix as the baby pushes against it. This pressure can be quite intense and can be felt mostly in the abdomen with the back, groin, thighs and sides taking a hit too. This pain varies for different women - for some it is akin to intense menstrual cramps and for others, it can be described as severe pressure that comes in waves of pain.

As delivery nears, the contractions come in quick succession, giving the muscles little time to relax, which naturally calls for some pain relief. If you are not taking medication for the pain, here are several things you can do to relieve the pain.

Stay active: Being active during your pregnancy and the moments leading up to labour can help women manage the pain as well as shorten the length of labour. Simply take a walk, roll on a birthing ball or keep swaying. Movement is advantageous as it helps the baby move down the pelvic canal due to the force of gravity.

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Reflexology: This method is based on the premise that certain reflex zones on the feet correspond with different parts of the body and work to improve circulation and release tension from the body’s muscles. It is usually more effective in the early stages of labour as later on, most women prefer to be active as the contractions become less spaced.

Water therapy: Some health facilities have birthing pools and the reason is not just for water births. During labour, being in warm water soothes the muscles and women who have tried this method attest to its effectiveness in pain management. Warm water relaxes the muscles and aids in buoyancy, which takes off pressure from the pelvic region. Taking a warm shower also has some relaxing effect on the muscles.

Massage: The need for massage during the crucial hours before and even during delivery cannot be overstated. Massage works to counter the pressure caused by the baby pushing against the cervix. Massaging the lower back, temples or feet not only offers some pain relief but also distracts you from the actual pain through the repeated movements. It also makes one feel cared for which is a morale booster for the work ahead – they don’t call it labour for nothing!

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Relaxation and breathing exercises: During labour, it is important to have your body relaxed as the tenser you get, the more you will feel the pain of the contractions. You can use several techniques to relax your body such as meditation, listening to music, or focussing on your breathing. Breathing exercises help you focus in the deep inhaling and exhaling, which brings some relief and keeps you calm. Breathing exercises can also be drawn from Lamaze classes, which emphasise on giving women the confidence to feel like they can push.

Whatever the reason one opts for natural birth without medication, remember, there is no badge of honour for how much pain you can endure and it does not negate your worth as a mother if you opt for medication. The priority is for both you and the baby to be safe and healthy and in the event that the pain becomes too much to bear, do not be afraid to ask for help. Review your pain management options by finding out what will be the most effective.

This article was first published in the February Issue of Parents Magazine

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