Birthing and Relaxation: Not Mutually Exclusive

Medicine is now more open to complementary and alternative therapies (now often called integrative medicine). People are now looking into new methods to deliver their babies. And there are more birthing choices than ever before.

Giving Moms a Helping Hand

A doula is a person hired by parents to be at their child's birth. They serve the role of support and coach for the laboring person. They do not replace the role of a partner and is not part of the healthcare team. They are trained in childbirth and can stand in for a partner who can't be there.

Not all doctors have worked with a doula before. This is why they go to prenatal visits to meet the doctor before the big day. The staff is more likely to welcome a doula when they know they are there for support and not to replace care.

Doulas can start working before the baby is born by answering questions from a nervous pregnant person. They can also be helpful after birth when the mother and baby come home. They can help with feeding, healing, and newborn care. They can also help with the changes a family faces with a new baby in the home.

The Wetter, the Better

Water can ease aches and tension. It's no surprise that many pregnant people choose to give birth in a birthing pool. It may result in:

  • Less pain —a pregnant person can move into any position that is best for them, which may make birth easier
  • Less trauma —people who use this method say it is less traumatic
  • A smoother transition —the water is like the womb in that it muffles sounds and keeps out harsh light


The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not support immersion in water during labor and delivery. Rarely, serious problems can happen during the birth of the baby. There also haven't been enough studies to support it. Anyone who wants to give birth this way should talk to their doctor about the benefits and risks involved.

Pain, Pain, Go Away

Labor always involves some pain. The good news is that there are many ways to deal with it.

Relaxation Methods

The first step to manage pain is to relax. Tension results in more pain. Even in the hospital, you can dim the lights, play soft music, light candles, or use aromatherapy to relax. Other methods include massage, showers, and baths.

The mind is one of the best pain-fighting tools around. Hypnotism, visualization, and imagery are all methods that have been used to ease pain.

Other Methods

Acupressure and acupuncture have been studied as natural ways to ease labor pain. They may offer some benefits, but more research is needed.

Have It Your Way

Look into all the options and think about what works best for you when planning your baby's birth. Work with your healthcare provider and be sure to check the policies of the hospital or birthing center you've chosen. For example, some may have policies against things like candles. Be flexible. Even the best plans may need to change when you go into labor.


DONA International
Waterbirth International


Canadian Women's Health Network
Women's Health Matters


Comfort measures (nonpharmacologic) during labor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed November 1, 2021.
Having a doula: What are the benefits? American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: Accessed November 1, 2021.
Immersion in water during labor and delivery. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists websites. Available at: Accessed November 1, 2021.
Management of routine labor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed November 1, 2021.
Postpartum doula. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: Accessed November 1, 2021.
Pregnancy support. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: Accessed November 1, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 11/1/2021

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