What is natural childbirth?

Natural childbirth can refer to many different ways of giving birth without using pain medication, either in the home or at the hospital or birthing center.

Natural Forms of Pain Relief

Women who choose natural childbirth can use a number of natural ways to ease pain. These include1,2:

  • Emotional support
  • Relaxation techniques
  • A soothing atmosphere
  • Moving and changing positions frequently
  • Using a birthing ball
  • Using soothing phrases and mental images
  • Placing a heating pad or ice pack on the back or stomach
  • Massage
  • Taking a bath or shower
  • Hypnosis
  • Using soothing scents (aromatherapy)
  • Acupuncture or acupressure
  • Applying small doses of electrical stimulation to nerve fibers to activate the body’s own pain-relieving substances (called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS)
  • Injecting sterile water into the lower back, which can relieve the intense discomfort and pain in the lower back known as back labor

A woman should discuss the many aspects of labor with her health care provider well before labor begins to ensure that she understands all of the options, risks, and benefits of pain relief during labor and delivery. It might also be helpful to put all the decisions in writing to clarify the options chosen.


  1. March of Dimes. (2010). Natural relief for labor pains. Retrieved December 26, 2013, from http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/natural-relief-for-labor-pain.aspxExternal Web Site Policy
  2. Tournaire, M., & Theau-Yonneau, A. (2007). Complementary and alternative approaches to pain relief during labor. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4(4), 409–417. Retrieved December 31, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2176140

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