Emerson’s Clough Birthing Center offers a range of options for natural pain relief


Pain is known to be subjective. Most women approach childbirth with a sense of how they will be most comfortable during labor, but they might have to adjust their plans. Emerson provides women with the option of medication, nitrous oxide and epidurals for the purpose of relieving their pain. For women who would like a more natural approach to pain relief, there are a variety of options:

Hydrotherapy tub. The tub is a popular place for women during labor, and for good reason: being in water increases the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. Water also makes muscles relax, which allows women to change position, so that they can kneel or squat comfortably, and encourages the baby to move down the birth canal. Those who don’t want to use the tub find relief using a shower.

Birthing balls. These help women get into a more comfortable position. There are various types, designed to sit on or lean over. The peanut ball, which fits between the legs, has been shown to provide a modest reduction in pain.

Hypnobirthing. Emerson nurses are knowledgeable in using this technique, which is most effective when practiced throughout the pregnancy.

Essential oils. Women are welcome to use aromatherapy, which can be a pleasant distraction. Lavender, clary sage, frankincense and rose are popular. Peppermint can help with nausea.

Reiki. Emerson has several experienced reiki practitioners on staff, and they can often provide a relaxation treatment during labor.

Music. The Birthing Center has music available, and patients are encouraged to bring their own music along.

Cold and warm packs. Some women develop back pain late in their pregnancy, which may increase during labor. Cold and warm packs are often used to alleviate pain.

Massage. Therapeutic massage is another way to release endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. Counter-pressure to the lower back and hips can be helpful. Nurse-midwives and nurses can provide this or instruct partners on these helpful techniques.