Looking To Skip The Epidural? Here Are Some Non-Medicinal Options For You
With this method, you work with the pain, which may make labor more effective. The technique uses coping techniques often taught in childbirth education classes. Doulas or other birth assistants can help support you. With active birth, you are more in control and at less risk for medical interventions, which can make the experience very rewarding. On the down side, there may not be enough privacy or a supportive-enough atmosphere in the hospital. Sometimes you need more help with pain, especially if you labor for a long time.
Fragrant essential oils can help you relax, improving progression and control of labor. Your partner can take an active role by massaging you with the oils. Consult a doula or other caregiver for information on other aromatherapy options.
Acupuncture, acupressure and hypnosis
These can help reduce pain (or at least your perception of it), creating a sensation of well-being and control, and minimizing the likelihood of medical intervention. They can be used in conjunction with other forms of pain relief. However, they require consultation with and/or administration by trained practitioners.
With acupuncture and acupressure, thin needles or firm pressure is applied to specific pressure points on the body; they're most effective if used from the beginning of labor rather than at the onset of strong pain. In hypnosis, you call upon learned techniques of deep relaxation to eliminate the fear/tension/pain cycle.
A doula is a professional labor support person, there to help you through every moment of your labor and birth. Through her training and expertise, she can offer countless ways to help relieve your pain and progress labor. In fact, moms with doulas at their sides ask for epidurals 60 percent less often than moms without. (And, even if you have an epidural, your doula is there to support you and your decision.)
Water -- whether in a tub or a shower -- can help you relax between and during contractions. Showers can be very soothing during labor. If you want to actually labor in water (known as the "midwife's epidural"), a deep tub or a pool can be used. In the hospital, pools or tubs aren't always available when needed, and not all hospitals provide access.