Story by: Rebecca Hall on July 10, 2019
Women who choose to have a natural birth still face the challenge of how to relieve pain.
That’s where some familiar tools, and some unusual ones, can provide alternative pain relief methods during a natural delivery.
“The right natural pain relief tools allow the body to work effectively and enhance the labor process,” said Tara Garris, R.N., labor and delivery nurse manager at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital. “During labor, a lot of women do what their bodies tell them to do. Birthing tools and props help them find positions that are comfortable for them, and this differs from patient to patient.”
Here’s a look at five natural childbirth tools and how they’re used to support a natural delivery.
What it is: Spending time in warm water during labor is a method of pain relief during a natural childbirth. The buoyancy of water provides support and creates equal pressure, and the warm water helps women relax, which also eases pain and anxiety during labor.
How it’s used during a natural childbirth: Women have access to a tub room where they can get in and out of the warm water. There are also inflatable tubs that can be brought into women’s labor and delivery rooms so they can access hydrotherapy right in their rooms.
What it is: A birthing ball looks like a large exercise ball.
Explore your birthing options including natural birth and using a midwife.
How it’s used during a natural childbirth: Women may find comfort straddling the ball, bouncing on it, rocking back and forth, or even lying across it.
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What it is: Similar to a birthing ball, a peanut ball is made from two balls connected at the middle.
How it’s used during a natural childbirth: A peanut ball is often used while a woman is lying in bed. The ball is placed between the knees, which helps open the pelvis and encourages fetal descent, or downward movement of the baby.
According to Tara: “We use the peanut ball and magic happens!”
What it is: A birthing bar attaches to most labor beds and helps a woman get into a squatting position.
How it’s used during a natural childbirth: A birthing bar helps with positioning during labor, especially while pushing.
What it is: The Kaya birthing stool also helps with positioning during labor. It is a popular request by doulas and in prenatal classes.
How it’s used during a natural childbirth: The stool helps women get into comfortable positions during labor, including squatting and kneeling. The stool can also be put into a tub to be used with hydrotherapy.
According to Tara, these tools can assist women during labor even if they don’t choose to have a natural birth.
“Often women arrive at the hospital and say, ‘I’m not ready for an epidural, what else can you do for me?’,” Tara said. “This gives us an opportunity to encourage them to use these tools to increase their comfort and progress.”
Norton Women’s Care offers a number of resources to help women plan for a natural birth, including classes on natural childbirth, Lamaze and comfort techniques, as well as a printable birth plan.
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