Here are some of the best and most popular ways to decrease your stress and pain during childbirth. I have seen them all used is various ways and I have also noticed that different things work for different people. No matter how you choose to handle your labor, the most important thing is to maintain an atmosphere of calmness and comfort where you are free to be yourself and "do your own thing".
I find that these techniques help with more than just labor and birth. They are helpful in all kinds of situations. Don't believe me? Just try it.....
Relaxation. This keeps your muscles from tightening up, thus hurting more. You should especially be reminded to relax your forehead, jaw, shoulders, hands, and feet. When you can longer relax during a contraction, you must be reminded to relax in between contractions.
Slow, deep breathing. This clears your head, keeps you breathing, and may also keep you from hyperventilating. Plus, your baby will get the extra oxygen brought by your deep breaths.
If you are just finding yourself in a particularly stressful situation, try going alone into another room, close your eyes, and take a few deeeeeeep breaths. This exercise restores patience and works wonders!
Soaking in hot water. This is known as "Nature's Epidural". The deeper the water, and the more of you it covers, the better.
Massage/Counter Pressure. Tension is released, and the muscles get a chance to relax. This is especially helpful during back labor or if your legs are weak and shaky.
Visualization. May help your mind to focus on something besides the pain. Find a "safe place" or "happy place", or a fond memory to meditate on. Close yourself off to all that is going on around you, and just dwell in this safe place.
Hot compresses. These may be washcloths, bean bags, heating pads, rice socks, etc. Put them where you are feeling the most pain or intense pressure. It can feel wonderful!
Comfort Measures. Dim lights, candles, body oils and lotions, music, aromatherapy, warm bath, scalp massage, encouraging words, etc. All of these can increase your comfort level, thus increasing your pain tolerance.