Quick Relaxation and Pain Management Techniques for Birth

Visualize this serene peaceful stream running over stones in lush green woods for pain management

Here at Doulas of Northern Virginia, we provide judgment-free support for every parent’s right to choose the kind of birth experience they want. Whether you choose to deliver at home or in a hospital, with or without pain medication, we are here to help. These quick relaxation and pain management techniques can be used at any point in labor and even before labor begins (because the end of pregnancy isn’t a walk in the park for many expecting parents!). Print out this list, go over it with your partner, doctor or midwife, and doula, and then tuck it in your hospital bag or post it in the bathroom for easy access.


  • Deep, slow, rhythmic breathing
  • Visualization of a happy or relaxed time and place (Try printing some photos of a great trip, celebrated occasion, or time in your life that brings you happiness. Find a great playlist or music station that helps transport you.)
  • Play music that you like and sing along
  • Recite positive mantras: I can do this. My body is strong. Yes, I can.  I am safe. I am ready. 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Talking to your partner or a trained birth doula

Pain Management:

  • Movement (walking, swaying, changing positions, rolling on a birth ball)
  • Water (showering, bathing, warm or cool washcloths on your head, neck or chest)
  • Aromatherapy (lavender for relaxation, peppermint for nausea, orange for a quick pick-me-up). Pro-tip: Put any essential oil drops on cotton balls and store in plastic bags so you can change or get rid of scents quickly if your preferences change.
  • Touch techniques, including counter pressure, massage, and sacral pressure
  • Squeeze a comb on acupressure points in the hand to release endorphins
  • Making noise, such as low moaning or humming, instead of screaming. Screaming causes tension. If that’s what you need to do, though, try to relax your jaw and keep your vocalizations low-pitched. 
  • Spinal block or epidural
  • IV narcotics
  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)

Remember, your birth experience matters. Our trained birth doulas can provide the hands, head, and heart you need for birth to be positive and as peaceful as possible.