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Hello mom-to-be and congratulations on your pregnancy – so exciting! I bet if you landed on this page you are really hoping for a natural birth but you are really scared about the pain, and you are wondering if it is possible to give birth without the agony. Or you already know it is possible, but have lots of questions about how you can actually achieve that.
Let me answer the first question straight away for you: yes it is possible! There are many stories of women who gave birth without pain (mine included). But one think that will become apparent after you start reading a few of them is the fact that all those women that had a painless delivery prepared for the day in advance: it was no luck or magic. Instead, it was the result of lots of (hard) work and believing in themselves.
Forget the stories you’ve heard of women that had the baby in the car on the way to the hospital or in the shower at home because the baby came out so quick. Those, yes, are mostly women that had luck in having a short labor, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it was a pain free birth.
And forget the movies scenes with women screaming from the top of their lungs and their baby coming out 5 minutes after the water broke: that’s just Hollywood drama. It definitely doesn’t happen that way.
Having a painless delivery without an epidural is possible, it just takes practice and being (mentally and physically) prepared. So, I have gathered here all of my best tips on how to give birth naturally without pain for you to read and get ready. If having a pain free birth is also a dream of yours, then I am confident these tips will really help you achieve your goal.
Note: if you are mainly looking for tips on how to give birth naturally without an epidural and are just a bit scared about the pain, I encourage you to also have a look at these tips on how to achieve an unmedicated birth and, at the same time, also help manage pain during labor.
- How I had a natural and pain free birth thanks to hypnobirthing
- 23 Tips for a Birth without Epidural (Yes, you can do it!)
Why do you want a Natural Birth?
Before I dive into my painless normal delivery tips, I just want to touch base on why you chose to have a natural (unmedicated) birth in the first place. Is it because you want to see what your body can do and you believe women were born to give birth without medical intervention? Do you need to prove to someone (or yourself) that you can do it? Or are you scared of the side effects of an epidural?
They reason I ask is because I strongly believe that no woman needs to prove anything to anyone when giving birth. Each person is unique in the way they experience bringing a life into this world and having an epidural or a c-section doesn’t make you less of anything, certainly not less of a mother.
I personally really wanted to have a painless normal birth and was lucky enough to have one without complications. That said, I did mentally prepare for an epidural as well, and knew that it was an option for when I was going into labor.
While I acknowledge the fact that having an epidural has some (rare) risk factors and can interfere with the birthing and postpartum process, I also believe that for some women it is the only way to have a much more comfortable and less painful birth, and it can become a medical necessity if there are complications. You can actually read lots of positive birth stories of women that gave birth with an epidural here.
What I am trying to say is: work towards the goal of a natural birth because you believe it’s the best thing for you and your child, not because you are worried about what other people may think of you if you don’t. I don’t want you to read this article thinking: “I need to have a natural birth and I am so scared of the pain, so let’s research how I can meet everyone’s expectations with as little pain as possible”. Instead, I want you to go through these tips thinking: “I am excited about the idea of having a natural birth, because that’s what I have always dreamt of. Let’s see if it’s true that it I can also give birth naturally without pain”.
As you’ll come to learn below, a shift in mindset can actually make all the difference during labor and delivery.
How to Give Birth Naturally without Pain
Without further ado, here’s all of my best painless normal delivery tips.
1) Knowledge is Power
My first and most important tip is to learn about the birthing process: know how the body works during labor, what to expect, what you can do minimize any discomfort, but also what sort of complications could arise and how to deal with them. The old saying “knowledge is power” applies very well to giving birth.
In fact, the main reason why women feel pain during labor and delivery is the fact that they don’t know what to expect and what to do. They don’t know what position to be in to facilitate the birthing process, or how to breathe in-between and during contractions. They are also usually scared about what’s going to happen, whether that be pain or complications, and all of these feelings create a lot of tension in body, which prevents their muscles from working as they should.
Don’t be tricked into thinking that, as a woman, your body is designed to give birth and that instinct will kick in when the time comes. That’s a whole lot of bullsxxt. Particularly at present, when giving birth in hospital means being surrounded by medical staff that only wants to get baby out as soon as possible and women’s wishes are often ignored. Not to mention it’s impossible to find a doctor who actually believes that natural births can be painless.
The more you know about what happens during labor and delivery, the more you can be in control of our your birth is going to plan out. And the best way learn about all of this is to enroll in a birthing class. These usually cover:
- What happens in labor and what the different options for labor and delivery are, so you can feel confident about making your own birth plan
- Coping with labor, including different kinds of pain relief
- Exercising during and after pregnancy
- Caring for and feeding your baby
I have gathered here a list of some of the best online birth classes available at the moment, including some free classes. Take your time to go through them and choose the one that best suits your needs.
- 20 of the Best Online Birthing Classes (to prepare for and overcome your fears of birth)
- Printable Natural Birth Plan Template (FREE Word + PDF)
This second tip is closely relate to the first one, as hypnobirthing courses are very similar to birthing classes in some ways. However, I feel the need to be very specific about this one, because I truly believe I couldn’t have achieved a pain free birth if it hadn’t been for all the hypnobirthing techniques I learnt while still pregnant.
If you’ve already looked into how to give birth naturally without pain, you may have come across self-hypnosis techniques, and hypnobirthing falls under the same umbrella. However, don’t think it means giving birth while in trance, while someone moves a pendulum in front of your eyes (that’s what I thought it was at the beginning): it’s not that at all.
Hypnobirthing actually uses different techniques, such as deep relaxation, visualization, affirmations and special breathing techniques to relax and conquer any fear you may have about birth. During a hypnobirthing course you will learn the whole physiology of birth and why, throughout history, women have been taught to give birth in a way that’s against their nature, and how this, coupled with fear and tension, creates unnecessary pain during labor and delivery.
But don’t think taking a course is going to be it. The real success comes from mastering all the techniques and practicing them for as long as possible while still pregnant. It’s like running a marathon: you’d never do it without lots of training first.
So, if you had to ask me what is THE BEST WAY to give birth without pain, I would say: “take a hypnobirthing course and practice, practice, practice”.
I actually have a FREE introductory course to hypnobirthing that you can take if you just want to find out a little bit more about it!
- Hypnobirthing 101: the hypnobirthing basics for a positive birth experience
- Top 5 Hypnobirthing Online Classes
3) Breathing Techniques
I bet you could have guessed this one by now, so here it is! It’s extremely important that you learn proper breathing techniques to use during birth if you want to avoid any pain.
Proper breathing during labor allows your body to relax and send more oxygen down your uterus. This enables your muscles to work in harmony and efficiently while delivering baby, instead of tensing up and creating pain. Focusing on the breathing can also help distract you from the pain if you are feeling any.
This actually applies to any situation in life, and you might be familiar with it if you practice yoga or meditation. Have you ever realized how you tend to hold your breath of have shorted breaths while you are all tensed, while your body instantly relaxes if you start taking deep breaths and concentrate on your belly moving with the air coming in and going out?
Now, there are different breathing techniques out there for giving birth naturally you can practice. They all use different patterns of breathing at different stages of labor (you don’t breathe the same at the beginning of labor as you do when you are pushing baby out) and you might learn some of these at your birthing classes. If not, you can have a look at these suggestions from Parents.
If you are interested in following the Lamaze or Hypnobirthing birthing methods, you will find that they have their own breathing techniques. You can read more about the hypnobirthing breathing techniques here.
4) Believe in Yourself
Believing in yourself and your ability to have a natural painless birth is another very important aspect if you want to achieve one. And it’s actually one of the main thigs that you will learn if you enroll in a hypnobirthing course.
I won’t go into too much detail, but it a nutshell: if you are too scared of the pain or all the possible complications, and you don’t manage to overcome those fears, then you are already way more likely to “fail”. Fear is an incredibly powerful emotion and it will work by freezing your body during childbirth, preventing it from relaxing and progressing with labor.
Really try and remember that other women have achieved a birth without pain before you, so it can be done. Remind yourself that your body is designed to give birth and you can totally do it. Nothing can stop you: not the person doing your ultrasound saying that your baby is “very big”, not the yoga teacher telling you that your pelvis is “too small” (both happened to me).
You know yourself. You know your body. You know you can do it. And you are in control of your thoughts and what happens during birth.
5) Visualization Techniques
I have already mentioned visualization techniques when talking about hypnobirthing, however these are not specific to hypnobirthing and can be practiced on their own without taking a hypnobirthing course.
The main power of visualization techniques is that they create acceptance, belief and confidence in achieving the natural birth that you’ve always dreamed of. They can consist of visualizing your baby moving down and out of your body, your cervix opening up, or your pain flowing down and away from your body.
You can even visualize waves on the ocean when the contractions come and imagine yourself riding over the waves. Anything that resonates with you and helps you.
If you enroll in a hypnobirthing course, you will learn a few different visualization techniques to help cope with labor.
6) Birth Affirmations
Another tip for a painless normal delivery is to use and practice birth affirmations. These are positive statements about the expecting or laboring mom, their baby and birth.
The amazing thing about birth affirmations is that the more you read them or listen to them, and keep repeating them, the more they become ingrained into your brain and you will start believing them. They will then turn any negative thought that you may have about giving birth into a positive one: this will reduce any stress and anxiety, and boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. As a consequence, your body will follow by relaxing and birthing more easily, thus dramatically reducing any labor pain.
Your can find 50 Positive Birth Affirmations here, including FREE printable cards.
7) Get in the Water
If you can, I strongly recommend you also get in the water. Laboring in the water helps your body relax, therefore decreasing any pain and shortening labor. It also reduces any chances of perineal trauma or of an episiotomy.
I wish I had a water birth, but unfortunately it never happened for me. The pool wasn’t ready by the time I got to hospital, and my labor progressed too quickly and I gave birth before it was full enough!
Wait to get in the water until your contractions are quite frequent and regular though, otherwise you may get too relaxed in there and your labor will slow down instead of progressing faster!
8) Birthing Positions
Did you know that the typical birthing position that you see in movies, with a woman lying down on a table and legs up in the air, is actually the worst birthing position you can possibly choose to give birth to a baby naturally!? If it’s possible to have painless labor contractions, it’s definitely NOT by being in that position.
I learnt this during my birthing class (I took both a birthing class and a hypnobirthing class) and it totally blew me away. I just couldn’t believe that that’s what women are brought up to believe by watching it in movies.
Lying on your back when giving birth narrows the pelvic outlet and increases your chances of a prolonged and painful labor, of having an episiotomy, a vacuum delivery or the use of forceps. It can also cause a reduced blood flow to the baby because of compression of major blood vessels located down your back, which can result in having a c-section.
On the other hand, other positions such as standing, sitting or squatting, use gravity to facilitate the downward movement of your baby. Squatting in particular is often the least painful way to give birth for many women because it can increase the size of the pelvis, providing more room for your baby to descend down the birth canal.
Even positions such as side-lying and semi-reclining have benefits compared to the supine position, by allowing the laboring mom to relax and rest in between contractions, which definitely helps with the pain.
The problem about birthing positions is that you won’t really know what feels comfortable for you until you are actually giving birth. I mean, you can try different ones at home, to see if they feel alright, but labor day will be the final judge.
I personally thought I was going to spend my whole laboring time on a birthing ball and deliver my baby squatting in the water. Turned out that I absolutely hated sitting on a ball and walked or rested in bed most of the time, and I delivered my baby while standing up on a hospital floor. Go figure!
Another good thing to know if you are wondering how you can give birth without pain is that a massage during labor can really help in reducing or eliminating any pain.
According to this article from Evidence Based Birth, there are two different ways that massage could work. The first is by flooding the body with pleasant sensations so that the brain does not perceive the painful sensations as much. The other is by sending a painful message itself to the brain that simulates the release of its own natural pain-relieving hormones called endorphins to the body.
Researchers also think that a massage during labor might work in reducing pain by decreasing the stress hormones (cortisol) and increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine (the hormones involved in promoting a happy mood and positive feelings) in your brain.
You can have a look at some massage techniques in the video below.
10) Relaxing Environment
In case I haven’t mentioned it enough already, the more you are relaxed the more your body will be able to work its magic, the less painful contractions are going to be, and the the more likely you are to be able to have a painless natural birth.
So, other than practicing breathing techniques or getting a massage, also do anything else you can to relax your body and mind: listen to some music, dim the lights, ask medical staff not to be interrupted unless necessary, try meditation in between contractions, etc. I spent most of my laboring time listening to relaxation music and birth affirmations from my hypnobirthing app!
For this tip in particular, I found that having a clear natural birth plan with you really helps. This is a document that includes all your choices and preferences for before, during and after labor and delivery, so that you can share them with all the doctors and nurses that will be taking care of you.
In my birth plan template here I include a lot of bullet points on how to have a relaxing environment and no unnecessary interruptions. Or you can also find a lot of birth plan templates when purchasing a pregnancy planner.
- Best FREE Hypnobirthing Apps
- Printable Natural Birth Plan Template (FREE Word + PDF)
- 11 Best Pregnancy Planners (incl. FREE & Printable!)
11) Empty Bladder
Another simple thing to remember that could really help with pain during labor is to empty your bladder! With a full bladder baby has less space to move down the birth canal, which can make labor more uncomfortable and last longer.
12) Perineal Massage
Here’s another one of my best tips on how to give birth naturally without pain, or without epidural in general. In fact, practicing a perineal massage during pregnancy reduces the possibility of tearing, bruising or having an episiotomy (which equates to less if no pain!).
The way it works is by improving the health, blood flow, elasticity and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. When your perineal rim is soft and relaxed, the folds of the perineum open easily, and the baby can come out with less effort.
You can read more about how to massage your perineum here, including when to start and how often to do it leading up to your due date.
Exercising during pregnancy can help you achieve a natural, if not painless, delivery in two different ways:
- It releases endorphins (natural pain relieves) that help improve your mood, while reducing any stress or anxiety.
- Activities like prenatal yoga and Pilates can help you practice breathing, meditation and other calming methods that will help you manage labor pain.
- It can help strengthening your lower back and pelvic floor muscles, which are involved in delivering your baby.
Kegel exercises in particular are very important if you want to have a natural vaginal delivery. These help strengthening the pelvic floor, which is comprised of muscles inside your pelvis that stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front. These are the muscles that push the baby out during delivery, so the stronger they are, the easier your labor will be.
The great thing about doing Kegels is that you can do them anywhere at any time. You can be lying down or sitting up, it doesn’t matter. I used to do them while driving the car to work! This is how you do it:
- Squeeze the muscles around the vagina as if you are stopping the flow of urine or imagine that you are squeezing a tampon really tightly.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly release.
- Repeat for about 20 times.
- Do them as often as you can throughout the day, up to 5 times a day.
For more information on all exercises that you can do while pregnant, check out this related article: Best Pregnancy & Antenatal Exercises safe for all Trimesters (and for easier labor!)
While I haven’t personally used aromatherapy as a pain management technique during labor, I have heard of lots of women doing it. So much so that I have included it into my natural birth plan template.
Aromatherapy consists of a practice of using essential oils from plants in order to enhance well-being. These can be massaged into the skin, given in a warm bath, or diffused into the air using a diffuser.
There are actually several studies that confirm how using aromatherapy during labor can help manage pain and manage anxiety and, as a result, create a greater satisfaction with the childbirth experience.
15) Use a TENS Machine
Using a TENS machine for pain relief during labor started becoming popular in the 1990s and it’s effectiveness has been supported by several studies. It consists in a small device with wires connected to electrodes that are placed on the skin (usually on the lower back during labor) and its normal function is to stimulate the sensory nerve endings so that the stimulation keeps pain signal from reaching the brain.
It is usually used for relieving pain that is not necessarily muscular, such as tendonitis, cancer-related pains, etc. However, it’s electrical impulses can also stimulate the body to produce endorphins, a neurotransmitter that helps in relieving pain. For these reasons, it is often recommended as a drug-free method of controlling pain during labor and delivery and, as such, it’s often included in hospital bag checklists for childbirth.
Most TENS units are small and battery operated, so that you can easily carry it while walking around during labor. Plus you can regulate the intensity of the impulses by yourself during labor contractions.
Believe it or not, they can also used to simulate labor contractions (before you are pregnant!) and I have listed some of the best units for both labor pain simulation and pain relief during childbirth here.
16) Knowing when to Push
This painless normal delivery tip is also quite important, as we are all so accustomed to seeing movies in which women are told when to push during the final stage of labor. And this is actually a belief that’s still very prominent amongst most medical professionals: they all believe it’s their job to coach you through the final pushing stage of labor when, in reality, women are perfectly aware of when it’s the right time to push!
It’s actually amazing how your body changes as you transition into the pushing stage. It’s hard to explain it to someone who hasn’t gone through it yet but, believe me, when the time comes you’ll know. It’s like your body changes gear and is now 100% ready to get baby out, and there is no way that you can stop that.
That’s why it’s super important that you only listen to your body and not somebody else. Not pushing when your body is telling you to push, or the other way around, is only going to work against your body and create more pain and effort.
Not to mention that, according to this research, directed pushing (when you are instructed of when to push) can also contribute to deoxygenation of the fetus, cause damage to urinary, pelvic, and perineal structures, and challenge a woman’s confidence in her body.
17) Practice, Practice, Practice
I have already mentioned this before, but it’s very important to get ready for birth if you want to have an enjoyable and pain free experience. This means that you don’t just need to learn about the different techniques, but you also need to practice them as much as you can before you actually go into labor.
The breathing and visualization techniques need to become almost second nature and birth affirmations cards should be spread out around the house. Or a perineal massage should be done every day before going to bed!
I used to practice breathing while listening to relaxation music and doing my kegel exercises all the way to work and back when pregnant, and would do my perineal massage every night before bedtime.
You really need to be disciplined if you want to achieve a painless delivery. Do a little bit every day and never forget your goal 🙂
18) Other Forms of Pain Relief
I don’t know if you reached this article because you are hoping to achieve a painless normal delivery without any sort of medication or pain relief options, other than natural pain management techniques, or not. Either way, I strongly encourage you to research all your pain relief options so that you can make informed decisions no matter the circumstances.
Even though I prepared and was really hoping for a natural and unmedicated birth, I also mentally prepared for the possibility of taking some nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or even an epidural. At the end of the day, every woman can have different sensations and different birth experiences, and you never know if all the practice you did is actually going to pay our on the day until baby actually comes.
Plus, circumstances can be very different from women to women. I have a friend, for example, whose baby was back-to-back (baby’s back is against the mother’s spine), and this position is apparently extremely painful when giving birth and can make labor more difficult. So, you might want to opt for an epidural if that is the case.
Other pain relief options other than epidurals include nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or injections of pethidine or morphine. Make sure to discuss these with your health care provider and add these to the birth plan as needed.
The Best Way to Give Birth without Pain
Is there a best way to give birth without pain? I think so. But, as you may have realized from this article, it doesn’t come down to one single thing.
While there are some tools that can help, such as a massage or birth affirmations, achieving a painless birth is usually the result of having mastered different techniques and birthing positions, of knowing what’s happening to your body and believing in yourself. If you got to the end of this article you are definitely on the right track, but you probably have some work ahead of you to get ready!
How to Give Birth Naturally without Pain: Final Thoughts
Here it is mama, all my best tips on how to have a painless natural birth. I really hope these will help you out in achieving the birth of your dreams!
I would also encourage you to read my best tips for a birth without an epidural. Some of the tips there are the same that you’ve found here, but there’s also extra useful information that could really help you if you want to achieve an unmedicated birth.
In general though, remember that the most important thing if you want to give birth without pain (or with as little pain as possible) is to relax and let go. You really need to let go of any fear in your head, trust yourself and the birthing process, and work in harmony with your body.
You can totally do it. And I say this as someone who was totally terrified of the pain of giving birth. All I could think of when I got pregnant was my mom telling me that giving birth to me was long and excruciating! But I learned how I could make my experience different, I enrolled in a birthing class and then in a hypnobirthing class, I put my mind to it, I practiced every day, and I did do it.
For more information about hypnobirthing:
- Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques (All you need to know!)
- Best Free Hypnobirthing Apps
- 5 of the Best Hypnobirthing Online Classes
Here’s some articles to prepare for birth and postpartum:
- Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom, Baby and Partner (with FREE Printable)
- 12 Must-Have Clothes for After Delivery in Hospital
- Postpartum Care Kit Checklist (with all Essentials!)
- Printable Natural Birth Plan Template (FREE Word + PDF)
- Perineal Massage during Pregnancy: increasing your chances of an Easier Labor
- The Most Powerful Birth Affirmations for a Positive Birth Experience
- Positive Birth Stories (to conquer your fear of birth!)
And some related articles that will help you get through pregnancy:
- 8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety During Pregnancy
- Pregnancy Survival Kit (30+ Essentials for Mom & Dad)
- 20+ Fun & Creative Things to do while Pregnant
- Best Pregnancy & Antenatal Exercises safe for all Trimesters (and for easier labor!)
- 20+ Remedies for Heartburn during Pregnancy (and Tips on how to prevent it)
Do you have any question about any of the tips above on how to give birth without pain? Or have you already experienced a painless normal delivery and would like to share your story? Are there any other tips that you’d like to share with other moms-to-be? Then please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
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