Natural methods to manage your pain in labor

Natural methods to manage your pain in labor

At some point during labor, every woman will need to manage her pain naturally – whether she plans for the entire course of her labor to be unmedicated or she plans to use pain medication. Whether it is several minutes or several hours, here are some tips for managing discomfort during contractions and labor.  

Keep yourself moving

Change positions throughout the course of your labor. In many cases, your nurse will help you to get into different positions throughout your labor. This is also something your partner can remind you and help you to do. You may find that walking feels good, swaying side to side or leaning into someone or something in your labor room. Sometimes, lying in bed may feel good, especially if labor is in the middle of the night and you are resting in between contractions. Try getting down on all fours and rocking back and forth in your labor bed as well. This may help relieve back pain and assists the baby in moving through the birth canal.   

Birthing balls 

Squatting or sitting on a birthing ball may feel good during contractions, and it helps the baby to descend through the birth canal by opening up the pelvis. You can try leaning on all fours into the birthing ball and rocking back and forth. You may also notice that your hospital has a peanut shaped birthing ball. These can be used when you are lying on your side to help relax and open the pelvis. These can be helpful to rotate your baby’s position during labor as they lower into the pelvis.  


Depending upon where you choose to deliver, your hospital may have a tub for you to sit in during your labor, or for an actual water birth. If tubs are not accessible, there are usually showers where a woman can sit to allow hot water to run onto her belly or back during contractions to help with pain. The hot water not only offers relaxation, but may provide pain relief. If you are still at home and you are in early labor, this is a great time to take advantage of using your own tub or shower during contractions.


Applying massage, pressure, or touch during labor may help to reduce a woman’s pain, especially in areas like the lower back, the head, neck, or shoulders. Your partner or your nurse can massage or apply pressure to these areas to see if it is helpful for you during your labor. Some women may very much enjoy massage during their labor, while others might find it irritating or unhelpful. Try a gentle pressure and then a stronger counter pressure to see if either method works or is helpful for you.

Deep breathing

While there is no “right” way to breathe during your labor, we find the most helpful is slow, deep breathing during contractions. Women will find that as their labor becomes more active, they can no longer talk during contractions and will have to focus on their breathing. Breathing should be comfortable and rhythmic. Every woman will find her “groove” or “rhythm” for how she is going to focus and breathe during labor. If breathing becomes too fast, or out of control, usually a nurse or partner will help to re-focus your energy and breathing. Explore the different ways of breathing during labor during your pregnancy. You might find a series of prenatal yoga classes are most beneficial to helping you prepare your mind and body for your labor.


A simple trick that can have a large impact on your pain in labor during contractions is applying intermittent heat to areas of discomfort. Most hospitals have heat packs on hand, and you can also use your own heating pad. Places that you may find heat to help include the abdomen and the lower back. Your partner can help to apply heat and pressure to the area simultaneously. It not only offers pain relief, but helps the muscles in that area of the body relax.  

About the author:
Boston NAPS, LLC is a Boston-based, private nursing company and team of qualified Registered Nurses that specializes in providing nursing care to expecting, new, and experienced parents and families. Boston NAPS services include prenatal, postpartum, lactation, and newborn support and education to families throughout Massachusetts. All services are offered in the privacy and comfort of your home, with some services also offered in a group setting. For more information about Boston NAPS, please visit their website at

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