Nonmedical Options for Pain Relief in Childbirth

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You can try nonmedical options that can help with pain during childbirth. Some examples include breathing in a rhythm and getting a massage. You can also do things to distract yourself, such as reading, walking, or listening to music. For some people, these work very well.

What are some examples?

Nonmedical pain relief includes:

  • Breathing techniques. Breathing in a rhythm can distract you from pain. Childbirth classes can teach you how to do focused breathing.
  • Distraction. You can walk, play cards, listen to music, watch TV, take a shower, or read. These can help take your mind off your contractions.
  • Massage. You can ask someone to massage your shoulders and lower back during contractions.
  • Imagery. You can imagine a peaceful place. For instance, you can think of contractions as waves rolling over you.
  • Laboring in water. Soaking in warm water may help ease stress in early labor.
  • Acupuncture. This treatment during labor may help you manage pain.

What are the risks of nonmedical pain relief options?

Most nonmedical pain relief options for childbirth are safe. But for some people, they may not offer enough pain relief. Talk to your doctor or midwife about which techniques you plan to use. Depending on your health and how your labor goes, some methods may be safer and work better for you.

Related Information


Current as of: November 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine
John M. Freedman MD - Anesthesiology

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.