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The University of Chicago Medicine - The Family Birth Center

Natural & Drug-Free Labor Pain Management

Labor pain can be intense, but you have options to help you cope — without medication, an epidural block, or spinal anesthesia. If it's safe for you and your baby, you may even choose not to take pain medication at all.

At the Family Birth Center, we offer several natural and low intervention pain management options, including:

Our new natural birthing suites are equipped with built-in warm water immersion therapy (hydrotherapy) tubs. For women who are in active labor, hydrotherapy can offer pain relief and other benefits prior to delivery. The water is kept at a controlled temperature to avoid dehydration.

Particularly recommended for prolonged, obstructed labors with low risk, the advantages of warm water immersion may include:

  • Soothing labor pain
  • Softening the perineum, which may reduce the chance of episiotomy
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Increasing blood circulation, allowing more oxygen in the womb
  • Enhancing comfort and flexibility in positioning
  • Mental and physical relaxation

Whether you need to rock, squat, bounce or walk, we offer a selection of labor and birth aids to help you move through pain and discomfort. Our midwives can coach you through movement and positioning exercises and apply physical touch to help you cope with contractions and other types of labor pain. Our midwives offer hands on support for:

  • Counter pressure
  • Hip squeeze
  • Pelvic presses

We encourage you to choose freely from our services and amenities for comfort and support during labor.

When you think of natural pain relief, injections may not come to mind. However, at the Family Birth Center, we now offer sterile water injections — an evidence-based method for relieving back pain during labor. Sterile water papules are injected just beneath the skin in the lower back. The injection may sting initially, as it stimulates nerves to provide relief within minutes.

Our midwives can support you through pain management exercises based on focus and distraction techniques, including:

  • Breathing
  • Relaxation
  • Visualization
  • Vocalization