Natural Remedies to Cope with Labour Pain

6 min read
Natural Remedies to Cope with Labour Pain

Childbirth is one of those events in a woman’s life that can be filled with both excitement as well as anxiety.  Preparing for the big day is the best approach so you can go with the flow and enjoy this special moment in time.

Having worked as a naturopath and doula for years, I got to witness first-hand what worked and what didn’t.  These are my top tips for coping with labour pain.

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Sterile Water Injections
to Ease Labour Pains

During your pregnancy, ask your midwife or obstetrician about sterile water injections during labour for back pain. This can provide relief from back pain for up to 90 minutes and can be repeated throughout labour.

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Massage Can Ease Labour Pains

If you experience back pain, massage can offer great relief. Have your birthing partner use some aromatherapy massage oil and starting at the sacrum, press hard across the lower back towards your hips. Popular aromatherapy oils for labour include Clary sage, Jasmine, Rose and Lavender.

Increasing Oxytocin

Kissing and cuddling your partner during labour is a great way to keep the oxytocin flowing which in turn speeds up labour.  During very early labour, having sex is a great way to pass the time and really gets things moving!

Herbal Medicine

Red raspberry leaf tea is traditionally consumed during labour rather than during pregnancy in the weeks leading up to labour. However, this herb is often taken from about 28 weeks to prepare the body for labour.

A study published in 1999 involving 108 women found that raspberry leaf shortened labour and an unexpected finding was that the women were less likely to require artificial rupture of their membranes, caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth (ventouse). The majority of these women started taking raspberry leaf between 30 to 34 weeks gestation.

In 2001, a follow up trial by the same authors of 192 women, found that when they took 1.2 grams of raspberry leaf twice daily from 32 weeks of pregnancy to labour, it reduced the second stage of labour (the pushing stage) by an average of 9.6 minutes! There was also a lower rate of forceps deliveries.

Squaw vine is another herb traditionally used in the third trimester to prepare for labour and in combination with red raspberry, can assist with recovery postpartum due to its uterine tonic and astringent qualities. An astringent is a substance that causes constriction of mucus membranes and exposed tissues, reducing blood flow.


You will need to see a homeopath if you want to get hold of the following high-potency homeopathic remedies:

Arnica 10M should be taken as soon as labour starts (the first intense contraction, not period pain/Braxton Hicks type contractions). This helps prevent bruising and swelling, ensures a speedy recovery and helps to make labour faster and less painful as it helps muscle contraction. You can also use Arnica after labour if you are in shock – tell your birth partner to watch for signs of chilliness and shaking.  There is no evidence that Arnica is a blood thinner so it can be taken prior to a caesarean to help speed recovery.

Caullophylum 10M gives the uterus a boost and can help dilate a rigid cervix thus making labour more efficient.

Homeopathic remedies are also fantastic for helping you to recover post-birth. Take Arnica 1M 1 dose 3 times over a 24-hour period (1 dose every 8 hours) followed 24 hours later by Bellis Perenius 1M 1 dose 3 times over a 24-hour period. Arnica helps to speed recovery and Bellis Perenius has an affinity for the uterus.

10 Birthing Gowns for Labour and Delivery
10 Birthing Gowns for Labour and Delivery

Breathing Techniques

Learning some breathing techniques prior to labour helps you to stay focussed during contractions. Try breathing in for 4 and out for 6.  If you feel yourself clenching and holding your breath during labour, try consciously relaxing your jaw and blowing out forcefully for a count of 6.


Attending Hypnobirthing or Calmbirth antenatal classes can really help prepare you for the big day. You will learn how to breathe through contractions (or surges as they like to call them).  The techniques used are designed to help you stay calm and reduce anxiety.  

Fear and anxiety promote tension which then increases pain, so the idea behind these techniques helps to promote a calm and relaxed state which in turn, reduces pain.


Heat two wheat bags and apply one to your stomach and have your partner apply one to your back if you have back pain.


Put together a Spotify list of your favourite songs. Easy listening music can help you to relax and soothe your nervous system.

Keep Lights Low

Get in the zone by keeping curtains drawn and lights low. If you’re having a homebirth, you could try setting up a relaxing atmosphere with candlelight and aromatherapy. Another tip for having a homebirth is to find a midwife who has prescribing rights. This will allow her to bring gas and air if required. Although sucking on gas and air doesn’t reduce pain, it can help to soothe your mind and maybe the difference between a successful homebirth or a trip to the hospital for an epidural.

Water Immersion

A hot shower is great for early labour, and you could try sitting on a fit ball in the shower.  When you are in active labour, immersing yourself in a bath or hot tub is a great way to relieve pressure and pain. Make sure you are guided by your midwife as hopping in the tub too early can slow things down.  Also, ask your midwife for some knee pads as kneeling in the bath with a heavy belly is extremely uncomfortable for your knees!

Positive Affirmations

Ask your birthing partner to read these out so you can repeat them.

I am calm and relaxed

With each contraction, my cervix is dilating more and more, and baby is descending

My breathing is slow and even

My legs and hands are relaxed; my face, shoulders, stomach and abdomen are relaxed

My pelvis is relaxed, my cervix is relaxed

Soon my baby will be here

What works for one woman, may not necessarily work for another.  However, the beauty of most first labours is you have plenty of time to figure out what works best for you!

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Nikki Warren

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