Coping with labor pain

Labor pain feels different for every woman. Some women may feel a lot of pain and others may not. 

The size and position of your baby and the strength of your contractions can affect the amount of pain you feel. 

Some women help manage their pain by using breathing and relaxation techniques they learned in childbirth education classes. Other women find they need extra help to ease the pain. 

How can you make labor less painful?

Deciding about pain relief methods before your labor starts can help you relax and feel ready. You may decide you want medicine, like an epiduralspinal or narcotics. Or you may want to use natural methods of pain relief, like relaxation or water therapy. Talk to your health care provider to find out what’s right for you. 

When you choose a pain-relief method, write it on your birth plan. This is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth. Share your birth plan with your health care provider and the staff at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. 

You can ask for pain relief at any time during labor and birth. Learning about your pain-relief choices can help you have a more comfortable labor and birth. 

Which pain-relief method is right for you? 

Ask your provider these questions to help you decide about pain-relief methods: 

  • How does the method work? 
  • How does it affect you and your baby?  
  • How quickly does it work? 
  • How long does it last? 
  • At what point during labor can you start using it?
  • Can you combine this method with other types of pain relief? 
  • Is the method available where you’re planning to have your baby?


Last reviewed: June, 2014

Labor pain feels different for every woman. Some women may feel a lot of pain and others may not. 

The size and position of your baby and the strength of your contractions can affect the amount of pain you feel. 

Some women help manage their pain by using breathing and relaxation techniques they learned in childbirth education classes. Other women find they need extra help to ease the pain. 

How can you make labor less painful?

Deciding about pain relief methods before your labor starts can help you relax and feel ready. You may decide you want medicine, like an epiduralspinal or narcotics. Or you may want to use natural methods of pain relief, like relaxation or water therapy. Talk to your health care provider to find out what’s right for you. 

When you choose a pain-relief method, write it on your birth plan. This is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth. Share your birth plan with your health care provider and the staff at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. 

You can ask for pain relief at any time during labor and birth. Learning about your pain-relief choices can help you have a more comfortable labor and birth. 

Which pain-relief method is right for you? 

Ask your provider these questions to help you decide about pain-relief methods: 

  • How does the method work? 
  • How does it affect you and your baby?  
  • How quickly does it work? 
  • How long does it last? 
  • At what point during labor can you start using it?
  • Can you combine this method with other types of pain relief? 
  • Is the method available where you’re planning to have your baby?


Last reviewed: June, 2014