Birth Experience

Peaceful Birth – Natural Birth Relaxation Techniques

27 Comments 13 March 2010

Giving birth naturally requires stamina, determination and mastering the skill of relaxation.

Although it may seem relaxing is not a skill, it very much is. Between each contraction, you must fully relax – let go – and retain the energy needed to endure the marathon that natural labor and birth can be.

Pam England, author of Birthing From Within, challenges women to the “ice cube test,” asking that you hold an ice cube at the moment you feel most relaxed. Can you maintain that relaxation?

The physical act of birthing a baby is the process of your body opening to let your baby through. Your muscles must be relaxed, not tense. A tense muscle will work against the process of your baby descending.

Visualize the process of birth.

Each time you have a contraction, visualize something in relation to what your body is doing, whether that be your uterus itself, or another type of scenario.

For instance, when I thought of my daughter’s birth, (I even created birth art around this daydream) my mind envisioned a seal swimming up through a hole in the ice. I’m not sure why I thought of this, but it was such a calm and serene thing to imagine.

I also thought of the process in a very objective way – that my uterus was a big, great and well working muscle that with each contraction was tightening around my baby and inching her downward.

These two thoughts created a very constructive foundation of relaxation and acceptance surrounding each contraction.

Music can calm your nerves.

Do you ever play music to relax when you’re feeling uptight?

What CD do you pick out to listen to when you feel like relaxing? Think about this and set aside a variety of music that calms you down to listen to during labor.

I listened to the same CD over and over again until I didn’t care about music playing anymore (when I was deep in the throws of labor, nothing mattered other than focusing on labor).

Hydrotherapy – Calming Waters

Using water as pain control during labor has been used for centuries. Immersing one’s laboring body into water is amazingly effective in reducing pain.

Warm water raises the body temperature causing blood cells to dilate, thus increasing circulation. This lowers a woman’s blood pressure and eases inflammation.

There are three unique benefits to laboring in water, specifically in a whirlpool tub – heat, buoyancy and massage.

Laboring in my claw-foot tub was the one place I could completely relax. I would lean my head back and close my eyes – the pain relief was evident immediately. I got in and out of the tub 5-6 times during the duration of my labor.

Labor does not have to be painful.

Hypnobirthing is a relaxation technique used to create a calm and relaxed presence and attitude within the birthing mother.

Hypnobirthing is a technique as much as it is a philosophy that teaches complete relaxation through awareness, trust and acceptance of your body’s natural ability to birth.

Educators of hypnobirthing teach women and their companions (birth team) to release all fear binding thoughts. A woman’s body will naturally release endorphines that help reduce pain – our bodies have been created with such awesome design!

Labor Massage

It is absolutely natural for your muscles to tense up during labor. Your body is working very hard – muscles and bones are shifting, stretching and straining.

Massage during labor is a wonderful tool to ease tension in your muscles and applying counter-pressure to areas that need it provides tremendous relief.

I recommend hiring someone who knows how to perform labor massage such as a doula or massage therapist who specializes in prenatal or labor massage.

My doula was literally my saving grace during some rather intense back labor. She knew just where to apply pressure on my lower back.

Own your natural labor and birth.

The positive aspects of natural childbirth include being present for each moment while recognizing some discomfort may be involved. Natural childbirth demands your interaction, accountability and attention.

Women who choose (it is a choice) natural birth are aware and involved in the process of birth, as their bodies our naturally intended.

Move around and choose positions as you deem necessary. Tap into your internal resources and don’t forget to use your breath.

I’d love to hear from you! What relaxation techniques did you use during your natural labor and childbirth?

Your Comments

27 Comments so far

  1. Stephanie says:

    I also spent my entire labor up to pushing in a tub. Warm water did wonders to relieve discomfort!

  2. Toni says:

    This is great! I remember how important relaxation was for me during my labor. I kept repeating “let go.” “release.” “give in to the contraction.” I was so focused and every time I would get distracted from my mantra, the contraction would be unbearable. I also did a lot of visualization, I kept imagining I was a blooming flower, opening up to let my baby out. :)

  3. bringbirthhome says:

    Learn about many more relaxation techniques straight from the mouths of mothers:

  4. Erica Grande says:

    Wow. Simply amazing stuff here. Comments included! I’m due any day now and am having my FIRST…and it’s a UC. I need every piece of advice on relaxation I can find. I’ll be REPOSTING here once he’s out and sharing what worked for me. Thanks again!

  5. Tanashia says:

    I just had my first home & water birth 9wks ago! I had not planned on a water birth, but found it to be the most comfortable place during labor. I rented an Aqua Doula from my midwife. I used some of the breathing techniques I learned with hypnobirthing…. especially during the 2nd stage. Also, I had my favorite CD of music playing and the lights down.

  6. Michelle says:

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  9. Bethany says:

    I agree with everything you had to say except that HypnoBirthing IS hypnosis. I am a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and just wanted to clarify that it is, indeed, hypnosis. Hypnosis is a very familiar state in which our conscious minds are tuned out and our sub-conscious minds are tuned in. Your body is in a deep state of relaxation, and your mind remains focused on your desired goal. The founder of HypnoBirthing, Marie Mongan, is a certified Hypnotherapist. For more information, the website is

  10. Lisa Amerine says:

    I did Bikram Yoga through out both of my pregnancies and during my first labor was pleasantly surprised that during labor my yoga training came with me. Between surges I was able to hear some of my yoga teachers to go to savasana and be calm and don’t move, it is not helpful to be restless, make funny faces, grunt just be still. To do that for 2 minutes is a long time. Then during the intensity of a surge you can do anything for 30 – 45 seconds.

  11. Katie says:

    i focused on remaining completely limp. my face, jaw, shoulders and neck, all the way down to my toes.
    i also focused on deep belly breathing.
    and i continually told myself, relax, breathe deep, let go. relax, breath deep, let go…
    i also did some visualization of opening up like a blooming flower, letting my baby down and out, etc..
    i had a mostly pain-free labor and showed up at the hospital already 10cm! (would have loved a homebirth, was too high risk, :-/

  12. Jennifer S Jansky says:

    Water helped with my second, not so much with my third.

    Breathe, breathe, breathe! That is a big thing, blowing all that tension out.

    Making noises helped me a lot, tons of moaning and groaning.

    Prayers and singing hymns was a big part of how I got through this last one. It was shorter and much more intense, I would even repeat things over and over. I probably sounded nuts but I didn’t care, I had a baby coming out and I did what I had to do.

    At one point I even found myself just staring at the kids rubber ducky as I sat in the tub. :D

  13. Yanely says:

    I had everything ready for a home/water birth for my first delivery last December. My husband and I had attended hypnobirthing classes and even had several personal sessions where I felt inmensely relaxed. However, when my day came none of those breathing or visualization techniques worked. Neither did the help from my midwives. Nor the music, mor my mother’s prayers. I am a pretty mind over matter person and also took prenatal yoga. Although I felt my mind and body were read for a natural birth, after 10 hrs of contractions and being onkly 2cm I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I must say that this may work for women who’s water doesn’t break right away but for me that was the first thing that happened. When you run out of water, the contractions are felt 10x more intensely. Not to say that I won’t try a natural birth next time, but the curse of Eve is real.

    • m says:

      The curse may be real for You! But if you care about your fellow woman preparing for birth you should not pass along your negative thoughts. We are what we believe.

  14. Becky says:

    To help me relax I used water, massage, visualization (of my cervix opening, pelvic hinges opening, etc.), keeping my face limp, talking to the baby asking her to come down, and what worked most for me to ‘let got of control’ was vocalization..I used vocalizing most during the most intense contractions and during pushing. The harder the work of labor got the more I vocalized lol

  15. Joyanna says:

    During the final 7 hours of my labor, low lights, soothing music, and the privacy of my home with the presence of only my husband and midwife were most important for my relaxation. My sweet cat showed great concern for me, and followed my midwife back & forth as she filled the birthing pool with a pot because the hose was frozen. This provided some amusing comic relief. Getting in the birthing tub an hour before my baby was born completely relaxed me and turned the pain into pressure, making it the easiest part of my labor.

  16. Jenica says:

    I’m so jealous of how relaxing your labor looked. My dream homebirth (waterbirth outside) went so fast I didn’t have time for any extras. As soon as the tub filled I got in and had my baby 15min later. Next time I’ll hope to have pretty petals I’n my tub!!

  17. bringbirthhome says:

    Sorry ladies, the photo of the tub with flowers is not me!

  18. Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the
    images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

  19. JaneR says:

    I enjoyed reading many of the comments above, it fills me with hope and allays many fears. Has anyone heard of the Hypnobirthing Association and the techniques they suggest? There is so much information on the internet these days I am not quite sure which route to follow.


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