Non-medical pain relief options for childbirth

Are you pregnant and have been thinking about labour and ways to make it easy? Labour pain is different for different women and it always helps if you are prepared with a few options to deal with it. That way you can start with the easiest ones and take things up a notch if you need more help.

All non-medical pain relief options can be used in conjunction with medical methods, so there is no danger in trying these out. Also, invasive methods of pain management come with side effects and so many women prefer complementary methods to manage pain. Here are top tried and tested methods.

Hypnobirthing: Hypnosis has been used for a long time to increase confidence and reduce the perception of pain and anxiety during labour. Hypnosis techniques used during the birthing process help a person relax and focus inwards while being able to shut out their awareness of external distractions. Hypnobirthing classes like the The Hypno Room help you feel empowered and teach you how you can have more control during your baby’s birth as opposed to letting others tell you what is best for you and your baby. You might be taught how to use a combination of music, aromatherapy and visualizations to relax the body and control sensations during labour.

It has no known side effects for mother or baby and can be alone or in combination with other methods of pain relief.

TENS: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or a TENS machine has electrodes that you tape on to your back and which you control through a small battery-powered stimulator that you hold in your hand. You give yourself small amounts of current through the electrodes which are believed to work by stimulating the body to produce more of its own natural painkillers, called endorphins. It also reduces the number of pain signals sent to the brain by the spinal cord. You can move around while you use TENS. TENS may also be useful while you’re at home in the early stages of labour or if you plan to give birth at home.

It has no known side effects for mother or baby and can be alone or in combination with other methods of pain relief.

Accupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique for relieving pain and curing various ailments. Fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points on the body to work on different conditions. Accupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and

positively affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress.

You need a qualified professional to have acupuncture during pregnancy or labour. Many hospitals and birthing centres now have an acupuncture practitioner, so it might be worth finding out ahead of time. Accupuncture can also be tried to bring on labour.

Reflexology: Reflexology is the practice of application of pressure to areas on the feet in order to stimulate different parts of the body. Similar to acupuncture, the theory behind reflexology is that areas of the foot correspond to organs and systems of the body. Reflexology is known to be relaxing and can help reduce stress. It could also help with headaches, constipation, backache and pelvic pain. During labour, reflexology is said to promote the production of endorphins and oxytocin that play a primary role in the birth process. Find a therapist qualified to work with pregnant women and tell them your medical history prior to any treatment.

Homeopathy: This is another natural therapy

that can enhance your body’s own healing ability, bringing balance and well-being and in most cases the elimination of symptoms and overall improvement in health. There are remedies for each step of the way from bringing on labour to helping with contractions and post birth pains.

Water, massage, aromatherapy and music: A warm bath, a gentle massage and soothing music are all time tested methods of relaxation. They are very helpful tools during labour and birth too. Your perception of pain and ability to cope with it greatly depend on your state of mind and how relaxed you are.