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Manage Labor and Delivery Pain - 3 Ways

Laugh it off. Go Royal. Wake Up and Smell the Roses:

Three Ways for Women to Manage Pain During Labor and Delivery

Giving birth is called labor for a reason; it's hard work for a new mom! And while there are many ways to reduce pain, including the hee hee hoo hoo breathing of the Lamaze technique, there are now a host of additional effective forms of natural pain control for moms-to-be to try.

Laugh it Off with Nitrous Oxide

Labor and delivery are no laughing matter. Yet nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas is now an option in the labor and delivery room.

Nitrous Oxide might be commonplace at your dentist’s office, but it’s now being used for labor pain. It’s a mixture of 50% nitrous gas and 50% oxygen that is inhaled through a mask that the woman holds and self-administers. Nitrous oxide reduces pain and anxiety and works best when the patient starts to breathe in the gas mixture about 30 seconds before a contraction begins. This allows pain relief to occur when the contraction reaches its peak. Many women are choosing to use nitrous oxide until they are ready for their epidural.

Patients might feel a bit drowsy, lightheaded, or nauseous while using the gas, but these common side effects go away when the patient stops breathing the nitrous oxide. The benefits of the gas are it helps with coping with contractions, lowers anxiety, and provides pain relief. Plus, there are no known effects on the baby.

There are some women, however, who may not be the right candidates for nitrous oxide. Women who cannot hold their own facemask, have pernicious anemia, or have taken opioids, narcotics, or sedatives within the last five days are not able to utilize this new tool. As always, it’s important to speak with your physician or nurse before starting this treatment.

A Royal Hypnobirthing Experience

Labor pain is one of the biggest fears of all pregnant women, but the technique is known as HypnoBirthing®: The Mongan Method can dramatically change that. The philosophy behind the trend is based on using the power of the mind to manage pain, and it’s purportedly used by the British Royals, the Duchess of Windsor, Kate Middleton, and most recently by her sister-in-law Meghan Markle.

I wanted my baby to be born in a peaceful environment,” says Martha, who took HypnoBirthing®: The Mongan Method classes at Memorial Hospital Miramar.

According to Luisa Shulruff, a specialist in HypnoBirthing®: The Mongan Method, who coordinates the class program at Memorial Hospital Miramar, overcoming your childbirth fears is an essential component. “When you are not afraid, you are not tense, your muscles are relaxed, and the labor process is quick and less traumatic,” says the instructor.

The program consists of five classes, two and a half hours each, during which both expectant mothers and their partners learn breathing, meditation, and affirmation techniques to arrive at a state of connection with the body and the baby who is about to be born. Martha Esperon learned in the class that “the mind is a powerful thing and hypnobirthing teaches you how to control it and relax your body. The visualizations were powerful, and it definitely lessened the pain of childbirth to a massive degree.”


With women today using aromatherapy and mindfulness in their daily life to manage stressful situations, it seems only natural to incorporate those practices into the delivery room. Hospital stays and giving birth can be stressful, so some hospitals strive to create a calming atmosphere for moms to deliver. They offer a wide array of essential oils to help moms-to-be relax and destress, sleep better, stay calm, and in some cases, reduce nausea.

Some of the blends that are distributed in satchels, which has proven to help women cope with labor pains are:

  • Lavender for relaxation and anti-partum for sleep

  • Clary Sage to relieve stress

  • Bergamot for relaxation

Nurse Manager Kandyce Villar at Memorial Healthcare System has seen her patient’s heart rates decrease, breathing slow down, and a calmer mood just from using the aromatherapy. “Our goal is to make a welcoming, calm, and soothing environment for our patients,” she said. Aromatherapy at MHS is not used in diffusers, just individual satchels so as to not overwhelm other patients or staff. It should not be used in the first trimester, as this can cause early labor. And if a patient is sensitive to smells or has allergies, aromatherapy should be avoided as well.

As we continue into a new decade, the push is on to bring natural childbirth back into the hospital setting and put the patient in control. These three options are wonderful ways to manage pain and stress during childbirth. And when all else fails, the epidural option is still available. No judgment allowed!

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