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Q&A: What can I do to make having a natural birth easier?

Melissa Overbey


Q What can I do to make having an natural birth easier?

A There are many things you can do to make your goal of a natural birth easier to cope with!

Position changes

Especially early on in labor, keep moving. Laying in bed can slow labor down, and can make you even more uncomfortable. Try different positions throughout your labor, one that might work in early labor, may not, in active labor. Vice versa. My suggestions are walking, during a contraction, leaning up against the wall or your labor support, sitting in a rocking chair and rocking, and getting on your hands and knees (rocking or not). While on the bed, put the head of the bed up and lean on it, leaning on the bed from the floor, "dancing" with your labor support (wrap your arms around their neck like slow dancing and when you get a contraction, hang on them) and another version of that where your back is to your partner, and they loop their forearms under your arms and you hang when you get a contraction, and squatting.


I also suggest to get in the water if you can. Your OB/midwife will be able to tell you if this is safe in your case or not. Warm water has shown to decrease the pain, and also take some of the weight/pressure off that the mother in labor feels. If you can't get in a tub of water, then ask if you can get in the shower, and let the stream of water hit your lower back, especially if you are having back labor.


If you have taken any birthing classes, you will have learned a breathing pattern, to help you cope with your contractions. They will be slower for early labor, a little faster for active labor, and very fast during transition. I believe breathing techniques work for some women, but not everyone. If you find it is actually harder for you to concentrate on a breathing pattern, and you are losing your concentration, then do what feels right. Don't hold your breath, that is one of the worst (and most common) things that women do.


Massage also helps. Some women do not like to be touched while in labor, and others want a continuous massage. It will be trial and error, what you find may help you and may not. Also, what may help you in one stage of labor, may not the next, as it gets more intense.


Perhaps one of the most important keys to coping with labor is relaxation. Tension and fear increase the pain you feel. Bring anything with you which helps you relax. Lotions for massage, pictures of children, pets, or favorite places to focus on, a favorite pillow, anything that is familiar, which will make you feel comfortable. There are tapes and videos out there, which can teach you relaxation techniques and labor coping skills. Pregnancy yoga and the new hypnobirthing are becoming pretty popular!

Coping skills and what works for you is trial and error. You won't know what will help, until you are in labor. As labor gets more intense, you may find you need more of one thing and less of another. Just take it as it comes and you will do fine!


Melissa is a part time working mother of three. Christian is 4 1/2, Kamryn and Kendyl are identical 18 month old twin girls. She is now pregnant with baby #4, due 12/5/00! She works as a tech on a mother/baby unit at a nearby hospital in Louisville, KY. She also highlights as a doula, in her spare time. She attended the doula workshop given by Birth, Babies, and Beyond in Atlanta, GA., in April of 1999. She has since then attended five births, (not including her own). She is currently working on her certification with DONA. (Doulas of North America)

Melissa has an apprentice/backup doula working under her, who will also attend Melissa's delivery in December. They plan on trying to start up their own business in the near future! Melissa has experience being a doula in labor and delivery, as a tech on the postpartum unit, newborn nursery, special care nursery, and gives breastfeeding support to new mothers.

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