Best 5 Tips For Pain Relief In Labor And Delivery: Naturally Managing Pain During Childbirth

We all know how uncomfortable labor and delivery can be, and for first-time moms especially, it’s usually the potential level of pain that scares them most. It is a natural thing to be focused on being able to relieve pain as labor progresses. Questions around issues of pain medication options such as nitrous oxide or more significant anesthesia such as epidurals naturally arise.

In this blog post, we will share five pain management tips without using an epidural, while it won’t eliminate the pain, it will greatly assist during labor. 

Non-Medical Pain Relief Options Useful Regardless Of Epidural Or Natural Childbirth

You might be hoping to do your whole labor without an epidural, but you’re not really sure about what to do to help with the pain of labor without getting an epidural. 

Alternatively, you may want to get an epidural but not until later, allowing you to have as long as possible to labor at home or just move around as much as you can until things progress towards the final stages of labor. Either way, if you want to push off getting that epidural, these five tips are going to help you deal with the pain of labor without using an epidural.

Perception Of Pain: How The Brain Processes It

Firstly, a little on how the brain receives and processes pleasure and pain sensations. Both pain and pleasure go through a nerve gate into the brain to be processed but the brain can only process one or the other and so what we want to do is trick the brain into feeling pleasure over the pain by flooding the nerve gates with pleasurable sensations and limit the space it has to process painful sensations. This results in various relaxation techniques acting to reduce pain during labor and delivery.

Tip 1: Take Deep Purposeful Breaths And Add-In A Pleasurable Smell

Rightly so, there is a strong focus on breathing techniques when it comes to pain relief during labor and delivery. The first way to help trick your brain into feeling pleasure over pain is to breathe in a pleasurable smell such as an essential oil. One of the best things that you can do for yourself during labor is to remind yourself to take deep purposeful breaths all throughout your contractions and in between as well – all throughout your labor. If you add to that the sensation of a pleasurable smell you enjoy, it can act to trick your brain into feeling pleasure over pain. It’s going to get your brain to focus on those good scents instead of the discomfort that you’re feeling in your body. Many women will bring in their essential oils and they’ll either diffuse them with a diffuser or just have the little bottles close by that they can smell. Scents like:

  • Lavender, which is good for calming. 
  • Peppermint is good for nausea, 
  • Sage is just a nice smell but also can help with uterine contractions.
  • Jasmine is just a nice floral scent
  • or even a citrus smell.

So it is really whatever you know you like as your personal preference. For one woman that’s going to be lavender and they won’t stand something like peppermint, while another will love it. It’s really whatever is going to make you feel good is going to help trick your brain into focusing on what feels good and downplaying what is painful. This acts to reduce anxiety.

Tip 2: Focal Points And Visualization For Pain Management Of Labour Pain

Focal Points

Another technique for you to trick your brain into feeling pleasure is to use focal points and visualization. Focal points are exactly what it sounds. It is taking a point and focusing on it so this can be your partner’s eyes or it can be a picture that means something to do to you, or it can be just a smudge on the window that you stare at. Basically what it’s doing is that your brain is focusing on the information that it’s taking in through your eyes and it’s only giving the energy to process that instead of processing the pain. Is is a good way to take your mind off of the discomfort of labor. 


Visualization is a little bit different because it is not an external thing that you’re focusing on but an internal image that you are creating in your mind. It can be one that you make up, or it can be like a recollection of an event that actually happened to you. Whatever the case, you want to make sure that you are really focusing in detail on all the aspects of that event. You really want to recreate it in your mind down to the details of the sights, the sounds, the smells, the textures the tastes of what you remember about it. You really want to pour all your energy into that process so that your brain is being tricked into focusing its attention on that, and not on the discomfort that your body is in,

Tip 3: Music And Mantras


The third thing that many people find helpful is music and mantras. Music is a really good way just to motivate yourself and to get your mind off the challenges and the discomfort that you’re feeling. It also encourages movement which is great for the laboring woman because the more that you’re up and about and you’re changing positions, the better it is for your baby to get in an optimal position in order to pass through that birth canal.

You can pick music that you like. Prepare a playlist beforehand. Sometimes music works for one woman and it doesn’t work for another, so do what works for you. But best to have a playlist ready to go for your labor in case it works well for you. 


The second part of that is mantras. Mantras are just statements or slogans that are said over and over that are positive and so by doing that you are focusing on those words. You want them to be positive and act as kind of gentle commands to your body. 

Let it be breathing in peace, and then breathing out the tension as you say the mantra. Something as simple as “any progress is good progress” or “pretty soon he/she’ll be in my arms”. These are things that allow your brain to focus on the encouragement and not on the discomfort.

Tip 4: Relaxation Through Touch And Hot/Cold Therapy

Relaxing Touch

The fourth technique is relaxing touch and hot and cold therapy. Relaxing touch is exactly what it sounds like. It’s just touch that is going to help you relax and be comfortable and be at ease. For example, it may be counter pressure through the double hip squeeze that your doula or your partner can do (if they’ve been trained). Counter pressure is really good as you are feeling a lot of pressure from the contraction. It can be very helpful in relaxing you. Another option is acupressure points.

It may be just a light scratch on the arm towards the beginning of labor that is effective, but as a woman gets towards active and hard labor, sometimes those gentle touches can be really agitating. So for the partners out there just be willing to try different things to see what is going to work, and if it doesn’t you’ll be told. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work, but doing things that she likes such as rubbing her shoulders, or giving her head a nice scratch or massage, is going to help take her mind off of what’s not feeling good in her body and let her focus on what is feeling relaxing and calming to her.

Hot and cold therapy

Hot and cold therapy is just a fancy way of saying using cool washcloths to help put on her head, shoulders, and neck when she’s feeling hot and overwhelmed. Add to this a warm hot pack to her back if she has bad back labor or on muscles that are tense. It doesn’t have to be an electric heating pad, it can just be a hot pack you warm in the microwave for a few minutes. You can even make your own with a sock, a pillowcase filled with rice and warmed in the microwave. Any muscle that’s tense when treated like this should help bring relaxation and assist her brain to focus less on the tension and more on the ability to relax.

Tip 5: Water Therapy

Last but not least is water. Water is a super-effective way in helping relax and trick your brain into feeling pleasure over pain during labor. A lot of women will hop into a bath early on in their labor just to help them calm down and relax and prepare for the long labor ahead of them. 

Most hospitals have showers, and so if you’re already at the hospital you’re able to hop in the shower if you’re feeling like you’re just overwhelmed and you just need a little bit of a break, water oftentimes provides a lot of relief to a laboring woman.

Studies show that women who aren’t progressing in their labor past 5 centimeters and have had a really long and already challenging labor, can hop into a bathtub or have a nice warm shower, and then be ready to push within one to two hours. This alone shows just how powerful water is in labor to help trick your brain into feeling pleasure and relaxation over pain and discomfort.


We hope these five ways to trick your brain into feeling pleasure over pain and help you manage that labor pain without an epidural has really helped you. 

Please be sure to share this with someone who might need to hear this information, especially if they are going to be a first-time mom and are feeling anxious about the pain management side of things.

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