a pregnant woman sitting on an exercise ball outdoors

Are you afraid that giving birth will be incredibly painful? You must have been watching too many of those “Miracle of Life” videos of women cursing at their husbands and reaching for the morphine drip while the nurses held her down recently. But that’s not entirely an accurate representation of giving birth.

Don’t get us wrong — it can be, especially if you’re delivering a particularly large baby, or you didn’t prepare. But there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your chances of a severely painful childbirth. And that matters if you want to have additional children. Think about it: if round one is unbearable, then you may slash the idea of making your baby a sibling! Here are ways to make childbirth less painful (though it will never be painless).


Studies have found that women who undergo acupuncture need less pharmacological or invasive methods for controlling pain during labor. The needles can release tension that intensifies labor pains.


There’s a reason we often consider the “Pilates Body” a long and lean one; the exercise lengthens muscles. It can do that for the muscles you’ll be using during labor, too, which can help the process go much smoother.


Yoga teaches you to sustain a muscle-challenging position for a couple of minutes while holding your breath and not focusing on the pain. Sounds a lot like contractions, huh?


When you have stronger arm muscles, you can push more without becoming exhausted; when you have stronger vaginal wall muscles, you can also push more without becoming exhausted. And the great news is that it’s safe to do Kegels at any point during your pregnancy.


Studies have shown that aerobic exercise during pregnancy can increase one’s stamina, and speed up childbirth. The shorter labor is, the less pain you’ll be in.


If you don’t want to do aerobic exercise, some studies have shown that simply going on regular walks during pregnancy can shorten labor, and reduce pain.

Have more pain, regularly

Don’t inflict pain on yourself for goodness sake, but consider trying exercises that you consider very uncomfortable. Studies have shown that women who reportedly experienced more pain throughout life experienced less of it during labor.


Smelling essential oils is the quickest way to let their benefits seep into your blood stream. These oils have been shown to be effective in managing pain in several types of patients.

Essential oil massage

Research also suggests that if you can counteract the pain signals being sent to your brain with pleasure ones, then giving birth could be less painful. Massage is one way to do this, and if you use essential oils, you’ll get twice the benefits.

Try these oils

For an increase in stamina and better circulation during labor, try sniffing black pepper oil. Rose oil can help reduce muscle spasms, and lavender oil can reduce vaginal inflammation.


It may sound unconventional, but studies have shown that hypnotherapy can result in a nearly painless childbirth. Because hypnotherapy essentially pauses and calms your mind, you do not panic during childbirth—panic can make your muscles tense up which can increase pain.


Homeopathy has been shown to be effective in reducing pain during labor, as well as help with abnormal labor where the baby must be repositioned.

Try these

Chamomilla can help alleviate back pain during labor, and arnica can help regulate severe contractions. There are also lesser-known forms of homeopathy that can be used, like Nux Vomica, which can alleviate irregular pains if labor is at a stand still.

Water birth

Having a water birth has been shown to reduce pain. Since your entire body, including the baby inside of it, feels lighter in the water, this can relieve some of the pressure that causes pain. It’s no surprise that the maternity ward of many hospitals has bath tubs.

Positive imaging

Some labor experts suggest playing calming music, taking deep breaths and visualizing your body expanding to release the baby, and the baby descending.

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