Labor pain is one of the primary fears expecting mothers have about the physical aspect of childbirth. Educating yourself on evidence-based and proven pain management techniques can help you make better decisions during labor and give you tools to manage your body AND your mind while birthing your baby.
Proven ways to cope with labor pain
FACT: Controlling your mind and what you’re thinking actually helps control labor pain! Scientists termed this the “central nervous system control method” of labor pain management and includes obtaining continuous physical and emotional support from a Birth Doula, doing deep breathing, utilizing hypnotherapy/hypnobirthing or hypnobabies, and incorporating relaxation tools such as aromatherapy with essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, and rose for relief of anxiety and fear, as well as music.
FACT: Scientist deem the “gate control theory” as a method of activating your nerves in a non-painful way at the same time you’re experiencing pain. It’s like a distraction. You involuntarily flood your nerves with other stimuli which blocks pain signals from reaching your brain! This is proven through experiencing comfort measures while in labor. These are tools Birth Doulas perform and/or also teach your partner to help you with while you’re in the process of delivering your baby. Methods include receiving massage on certain pressure points of your body, moving your body in certain positions and rocking with birth balls and rebozos, laboring in the shower or a warm tub of water, and using both warm packs and TENS units.
Support During Childbirth
FACT: Scientists concluded that expecting women who had support from a Birth Doula was one of the most effective methods, as each were given a tailored approach including a combination of multiple methods to address labor pain.
FACT: In 2014 researchers compiled all research ever conducted on non-drug approaches and found using both gate control and central nervous system methods to be very effective, actually decreasing the outcome of epidurals while increasing birth satisfaction rates. In fact, through random assignments of being offered drugs or a central nervous system method, scientists discovered that women who were first offered the central nervous system approach experienced a greater chance of natural birth: fewer interventions such as Pitocin to induce labor, fewer cesarians, forceps, and vacuum-assisted deliveries, and shorter labors!
FACT: ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, actually recommends women in labor be offered non-pharmacological methods because no adverse or no side effects have been found to these methods.
Learn more about the differences in pain and suffering by watching Rebecca Dekker’s Evidence Based Birth’s Pain Management Series below. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast.
- Dekker, Rebecca. Overview of Pain Management During Labor and Birth. Evidence Based Birth, 24 Jan. 2018.
- Habanananda T. Non-pharmacological pain relief in labour. J Med Assoc Thai. 2004 Oct;87 Suppl 3:S194-202. PubMed PMID: 21213523.
- American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Types of Pain Relief in Labor and Delivery.
- Chaillet, N., Belaid, L., Crochetière, C., et al. (2014). Nonpharmacologic approaches for pain management during labor compared with usual care: a meta-analysis. Birth, 41(2), 122-137.
- Simkin, P. and Hull, K. (2011). Pain, suffering, and trauma in labor and prevention of subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Perinatal Education; 20(3): 166–176.
- Leap N, Anderson T. (2004). The role of pain in normal birth and the empowerment of women. London: Churchill Livingstone.