9 Ways to Labour Naturally
LABOUR: Natural ways of handling labour pain generally focus on trying to take your mind off the pain or helping you to cope with it, whereas medical methods work by actually alleviating the pain. Many women at least start off by using natural methods.
Although there is now a growing number of alternatives to help you get through your labour and delivery, bear in mind that various ‘natural’ facilities or services may still not be offered, or are limited, in your area. It is therefore important that you speak to your healthcare professional to find out if the approach that you are interested in is available (and at the time when you are due to give birth), if it is suitable or even practical.
Aromatherapy in pregnancy, which involves the use of aromatic oils, may ease your pain during labour.
It is believed to work by stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body’s own natural painkillers. Aromatherapy has been claimed to relieve nausea, cramping and tension, as well as increasing the rate or intensity of contractions, and to improve emotional wellbeing during childbirth.
If you feel that aromatherapy may help you while you give birth, then ask your partner to massage some aromatic oils into your back during labour. Note that there are some aromatherapy oils that are not recommended for use during pregnancy, so consult your doctor or midwife for advice.
Endorphins are produced naturally by your body to relieve pain. Their production is stimulated in large amounts at a certain point in labour, making labour pain more bearable.
Endorphins build up as your contractions worsen, and the more natural your labour, the quicker they are formed and take effect. This is a bit like the effects of endorphins released during exercise, which help marathon runners cope. On the other hand, women who are frightened release lots of adrenaline, which can interfere with contractions and make the labour last longer.
Herbalists have used herbs in labour, and found them useful natural remedies for childbirth. Camomile, for example, is one herb that may produce a calming effect and ease pain. Jasmine, lemon balm and lavender are known to have a relaxing effect.
If you are keen to use herbal therapy during childbirth, it is advisable to speak to a specialist/therapist so that you are prescribed the appropriate remedy for your needs. In general, herbal medicines are not tested in the same way as conventional medicines and are not manufactured to the same standards.
Certain homeopathic remedies are said to encourage a positive response to pain and discomfort during labour. Since there are many to choose from, you may want to seek advice from a practitioner so that you can find the one that best suits your requirements.
Some women have found that hypnotherapy has helped them to cope with childbirth, by reducing the duration of labour, the pain of the contractions and improving their emotional status. For some women, hypnotherapy can induce an almost anaesthetic-like state.
If you are interested in hypnosis during childbirth, then it may be wise to undergo a few classes with a qualified hypnobirthing expert prior to your due date.
Movement during labour, or active birth as it is sometimes known, means that you are not restricted to a bed or lying down during childbirth, but rather are free to move around and give birth in a position that you find most comfortable.
It has been found that lying down during childbirth means that you have to work harder to push your baby out, which can wear you out easily. It may also increase pain, prolong labour, raise the chances of other complications developing, including lower back problems, and inhibit spontaneous expulsion of the placenta. Additionally, the likelihood of assisted delivery or a Caesarean section is lower in women who move around in labour, although this may be because they do not already have complications, and thus are not restricted to bed by monitors and epidurals.
Changing position by walking around or rocking, or adopting an upright position (such as squatting, standing, sitting or kneeling), can be far more comfortable than lying on your back when giving birth and can help to reduce pain. Moving around may also help your baby to move downwards due to the effect of gravity. Try to guide yourself with whatever makes you feel comfortable to find the best position for giving birth. However, if you have regional anaesthesia, such as an epidural, it may not be possible to move around safely as your legs may feel too weak to bear your weight.
Reflexology, which involves gently massaging or placing pressure on certain areas of the feet or hands which relate to other parts of the body, has been claimed to provide pain relief, stimulate the uterus and help to open up the cervix and expedite labour during childbirth.
Some women find that vocalisation (by singing, shouting, moaning or groaning) can make them feel much better while giving birth since it may help to release tension, relieve anxiety and diffuse pain.
You may also find it easier to take your mind off your contractions and cope with pain if you listen to some relaxing music during labour.
Some women find that labour pains in their legs or back can be eased through massage in labour, and also that placing a hot-water bottle or compresses against areas that ache can be soothing.
Did you labour naturally? What tips and advice do you have to share with our members? Leave your comment below to let us know