As you near the end of your pregnancy, you might be wondering how to stay comfortable and lessen pain during childbirth. Perhaps a few friends have shared their own painful childbirth experiences. It's normal to be anxious or scared, and wondering, “on the childbirth pain scale of 1-10, just how bad is childbirth pain, really?”.  

Tinyhood Childbirth 101: Learn About Labor Through Postpartum

The truth is, childbirth pain is relative and depends on not only your personal labor experience but also your pain tolerance. During your childbirth classes, you probably learned what to expect from labor and delivery, and even some tips on how to manage pain during childbirth. But it’s important to remember the pain is different for everyone and depends on a variety of factors. It also can be different with each birth. Because of this we can’t really tell you how severe it will be for you, but we can give you the information you need to go into labor and feel prepared. 

While it is difficult to quantify the pain on a scale, the good news is, according to a study done by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, most women surveyed reported childbirth pain to be less than they expected.


What Are My Pain Management Options for Childbirth?
Managing pain is the biggest fear for most parents, and being anxious is normal, but remember our bodies were built to do this and there are options to help you manage the scale of pain experienced along the way. Some options available to you are

Medications: When it comes to managing pain in labor, most people’s minds go straight to epidurals. An epidural is a way to eliminate pain while allowing you to be mentally alert and have the ability to push when the time comes. Some benefits of an epidural include: Pain relief, potentially lowering chances of a c-section, and allowing you the chance to rest. Some downsides are: you’ll be hooked to an IV which means less mobility, you receive continuous fetal monitoring, and get frequent vital sign checks.

Some other options include: Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) and is inhaled by the mother. It helps manage pain throughout the whole body without loss of feeling or movement, It can also be used during all stages of labor including after birth to take the edge off. It can also give you a sense of detachment, and make you feel loopy or dizzy. 

If you’re planning on trying for an unmedicated birth, that’s great, but it’s worth knowing all your options to have them as tools in your toolbelt should you need them. 

Relaxation: Everyone can benefit from implementing relaxation techniques during labor whether you plan to medicate or not. Try practicing some of these things before you’re in labor, with your support person: 

  • Create a soothing environment using aromatherapy, music and lights
  • Visualization or guided imagery
  • Massage (include your partner in this!)
  • Effleurage
  • Hip squeezes/counterpressure
  • Knee press
  • Acupressure
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Water therapy


Breathing Techniques: Breathing during labor helps calm the body, relieve pain, lower stress, and can give you a sense of control. There are 3 techniques our expert recommends laboring parents use: 

  • Slow paced breathing
  • Moderate paced breathing
  • Patterned breathing

One thing to note is that if you ever feel short of breath or lightheaded during a breathing exercise, stop and resume your normal breathing pattern. 


How Can I Prepare for Labor and Delivery
One great way to prepare for labor and delivery is by taking one of the many types of childbirth courses available to you.

In most birthing classes you will learn about labor, birth and the postpartum period — helping you feel more confident and prepared as you embark on your childbirth journey. In our online course, Childbirth 101, you’ll not only learn what to expect from your body, your baby, and your providers, but our expert will walk you through how to effectively manage pain (no matter how you plan to or end up delivering!), birthing positions, stages of labor, packing your hospital bag and so much more. 

Another way to prepare for childbirth is creating a “To Do” list of items that will get you and your home ready for baby. Our expert recommends: 

  1. Staying positive
  2. Think through logistics
  3. Establish birth preferences
  4. Do some nesting
  5. Pack your hospital bag
  6. Set things up for Postpartum

Read more about each of these items here

For more expert tips and in depth explanations of each way to manage pain and prepare for childbirth, check out our online course Childbirth 101: From Labor through Postpartum.  Taught by experienced Labor and Delivery Nurse and Childbirth Educator, Ashley Derderian Sousa, you’ll learn everything you need to know —and what other parents wish they had known — about labor and childbirth. Including what to expect during the final weeks of pregnancy (including how find relief from common aches and pains), how to know you are in labor and when to head to the hospital, a deep dive on the phases of labor, all the ways labor can go, what to expect in the first few hours and days after birth, and what to expect postpartum.

Tinyhood Childbirth 101: Taught By A Labor and Delivery Nurse