Self-help to reduce pain in labour

Positions for labour and birth

Use a birthing ball, mats and beanbags to try different positions. This can help your baby move down the pelvis. Practice these during your pregnancy.

Keeping active during labour can distract you from any discomfort you may be feeling. It could also shorten the length of time your labour takes.

Breathing techniques

Practice breathing exercises and relaxation techniques during pregnancy. These are a great way to relieve stress. Developing a relaxed state of mind takes practice.

Going for a bath or shower

Water encourages relaxation and can make contractions seem less painful. It decreases pressure on your tummy muscles. Water also relaxes the perineum (perineal area). This is the area between your vagina and anus or bottom). It stretches during the birth.

Some hospitals may have birthing pools but a bath or shower can help too.

Aromatherapy and alternative therapies

Aromatherapy oils can be used in massage, in the bath, on a tissue or by diffuser. These may increase relaxation and reduce pain. Speak with a qualified aromatherapist and check with your maternity unit or hospital before using aromatherapy.

Other options include hypnosis (hypnobirthing), yoga, acupuncture or reflexology. These may not be offered in your maternity hospital or unit but may be available privately.

Talk to your midwife if you are considering any alternative methods of pain relief. Many hospitals do not provide these services but may accommodate you.

Page last reviewed: 4 December 2018
Next review due: 4 December 2021