What does “easy labor” even mean? If you are wondering how to have an easy labor, you might have been stumped by the fact that many women have said labor is a horrible, terrible thing that you just have to get through. But that’s not necessarily true. In fact, labor can be made easier, more comfortable and even less stressful with the use of a few techniques that are proven to help women through those tough hours. Here’s what you need to know about making labor easier.

How to Have an Easy Labor: 12 Things to Do Before Delivery

There comes a moment in every pregnancy when you realize you will have to push that baby out, and that means labor! You can start preparing for labor long before it starts with these tips that can keep you happier, healthier, and looking forward to an easier labor.

1. Keep Fit and Healthy

The fitter you are, the more endurance you have. Besides that, being fit means that you just might have a shorter labor than someone who is sedentary. Start now with easy exercises, such as walking, biking or swimming which can keep your health in a good place.

2. Take a Class

When you understand what is happening to your body during labor, you are much more likely to handle it well. The anxiety of the unknown can actually make your labor longer and harder. Take a childbirth class with your partner, and ask plenty of questions about what happens during labor, what it feels like and more.

3. Have a Tour of the Hospital in Advance

Long before it’s time for labor, look at the place where you will deliver your baby. Knowing where you will be can help relieve some of the anxiety about what is to come. It can also help you plan on what you need to bring, such as pillows, birthing balls, etc.

4. Consider Water Birth

If you are very comfortable in the water, consider a water birth. Look for a hospital that has a birthing pool or tub for you to use. The soothing water can help make the transition into the world easier for your baby, too.

5. Time to Sit “Up”

To help your baby get into the best position for birth, start early. Try to make sure your pelvis is above your knees while you are sitting down, such as during the time you are watching television. Doing this often can go a long way toward having an easier labor.

6. Distract Your Attention

When you do go into the early stages of labor, try to stay calm and relaxed. Now is the time to distract yourself. Don’t start counting or timing contractions until they are coming at regular intervals. Before that, take a walk, watch a movie, cuddle with your partner and do other things that take your mind off the impending birth of your baby.

7. Have a Warm Shower or Bath

When you are anticipating pain, your body tenses up and that can lead to even more pain. Try to counteract that with a warm shower or bath. The water will be a comfortable cocoon around you, easing the tension out of your body. If you can get into a bathtub that has jets, the motion of that water can soothe the pain of contractions.

8. Have a Massage

Massages are great for pregnant women at any point during the pregnancy, but they are especially nice when you are dealing with early contractions. Ask your partner to take a class in massage so that he can give you the touch you need right when you need it. Something as simple as a scalp massage can work wonders to relax your entire body.

9. Have Plenty of Water

Stay very hydrated during labor and any other time during your pregnancy. When you start to feel contractions, drink plenty of water. The water will give you more energy to push, allow you to have more endurance, and might save you from having an IV. At the hospital, you can also ask for ice chips, which are soothing and relaxing to most moms-to-be.

10. Snack Wisely

When you first go into labor, have a snack. You won’t be able to eat much of anything at the hospital, so now is the time to get something in you in order to keep your blood sugar levels up. Snack on something like pasta or dry toast, good carbohydrates that will fuel your body for longer.

11. Smell Scents

Essential oils can trigger wonderful feelings, and that in turn can make labor much easier. Lavender is known for calming effects, so add some of it to a carrier oil and ask your partner to massage you with it. However, you have to be careful with clary sage if you are in later pregnancy or you don’t want to speed up your contractions, as it has great effect for enhancing contractions.

12. Walking Can Help

Get moving! You should be walking during your pregnancy, but it is important to walk during labor, too. Women who are upright throughout their labor tend to have shorter durations of labor and delivery.

How to Have an Easy Labor: Methods to Use During Delivery

In answering the question of how to have an easy labor, sometimes you need a little more help. Here are some methods that might make labor easier.

1. Medical Methods

  • Take medication. There are numerous medications your doctor can prescribe that will help you through the worst of labor and delivery. Commonly used are relaxant medication and Narcotic pain medication. The upper one can help you relax during labor. However, it can affect your baby, so your doctor only gives these if you are truly anxious and scared. While the latter one, a kind of much strong medication, is often given through your IV or as an injection into the thigh or arm. They are often given during hard labor but not during the pushing phase, as they can make you too drowsy to push. 
  • Epidural anesthesia. This local anesthetic can help dull the pain of contractions for several hours. However, epidurals can’t be given late in the game, because they can inhibit your ability to push effectively. “Walking epidurals” are low-dose epidurals that dull the pain enough for you to enjoy the experience of your baby coming into the world, but not too high to prevent you from pushing.
  • Gas and air. Often known as “laughing gas,” this medication is delivered through a nose mask and can make you feel giddy, lessen contractions, and make you much less anxious. Good timing is essential to make sure that the effects of the gas coincide with the contractions.
  • Transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS). This device delivers small electric shocks to your lower back, thus easing the muscular pain that you might have there during contractions. Be aware that this works for some women; for others, it doesn’t seem to work at all.

2. Non-Medical Methods

  • Change positions. Remember that when you are in labor, you can use any position that feels right for you and lessens your pain. Change positions as often as you want to, and talk to the nurses about how you can be monitored and still move about during the labor.
  • Use breathing techniques. Learning good breathing techniques for labor can help you get through it with less pain. Patterned breathing can calm you down, give you a sense of control, help you respond to increasing pain and make contractions more productive.
  • Have support by your side. The more support you have, the more likely you will have an easier labor. Midwives who are in constant contact with you can help make that happen. A partner who is calm and collected can also help you feel that way. Finally, look for a doula who will stay by your side the entire time and help you through the worst of it.

Here’s more for those who want to learn how to have an easy labor: