5 Factors That Make Natural Labor Easier

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5 Factors That Made My Natural Labor Easier
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » 5 Factors That Make Natural Labor Easier

I’ve had several births that I had the honor of being a doula at in the last month and it made me think about my own birth experiences and the difference between them. For reference, I had (full saga here) :

  • A typical intervention hospital birth that thankfully did not end in a c-section
  • A 26 hour long labor that ended in a great natural birth with midwives in the hospital
  • An unavoidable c-section due to placenta previa and a hemorrhage at 35 weeks
  • A 25 hour natural labor that ended with a successful v-bac (hospital, with midwives)
  • A perfect, wonderful, 13 hour natural home birth of a frank breech perfect baby girl

When a friend and I were talking about birth experiences, I said that I’d had the gamut of birth experiences and could just have normal births from now on and she responded: “No you haven’t. You haven’t had multiples yet.” Here’s to hoping we didn’t speak that into existence! (I’m happy to have one at a time!).

What I did notice in reflecting on my births was a big change in my most recent labor, especially considering some factors. I’ve been to a lot of labors and though I’m slightly jealous of women who are able to breeze through (seemingly) without pain or noise, I am not those women.

Looking back though, I realized that I’ve never had a “normal” labor (is there even such a thing) to see what would happen. After my first birth I was nervous and afraid I couldn’t do it. Then, after the c-section, my labor was still long and I was discouraged, but after research I realized that first time v-bacs are often longer since the uterus can take time to contract effectively.

Then, even with a breech baby and my apprehensions about that, plus the fact that she wasn’t even sitting on my cervix until that lovely time when I went from 6-10 centimeters in approximately 1 contraction, my labor was still a full 10 hours less than my other labors and not any more intense. (And my daughter was born healthy and wonderful but you can read the full story here)

So, this is a long way of saying that I think there were a several factors that helped make my most recent labor my easiest. I’d love to hear if you’ve tried any of these factors and what made a difference for your labors, so please share in the comments! Of course, check with your doctor or midwife before making any changes when you are pregnant and always research for yourself anything you do while pregnant!


I’ve written before about how much I love magnesium and how we use it at our house, but I really noticed the difference during my last pregnancy!

I used several methods of magnesium supplementation, but most often, magnesium body butter (here’s the recipe) and magnesium oil (how to make magnesium oil). These are applied topically so the body only absorbs what it needs.

Magnesium was really the only dietary/supplement change I made during my last pregnancy and I noticed these things during pregnancy:

  • No leg cramps (really bad cramps in the past)
  • I slept great and never had the insomnia I’d had before
  • No morning sickness-  I had minor queasiness a few times but none of the vomiting or nausea I’d had in past pregnancies

I also think that magnesium was part of the reason that my labor was so much easier this time. Magnesium is needed for proper hormone function and muscle health and I really think that for me, optimizing these factors with magnesium made a big difference.

While it is safe to assume that about 50% of us are magnesium deficient (and pregnancy increases this need even more), check with your doctor for the best magnesium dose for you. Too much of a good thing can be bad! Remember, magnesium relaxes muscles, so it can not only affect contractions, but in too high of a dose could also affect other serious matters like heart contraction and diaphragm movement needed for breathing.


I discovered a great blog KatySays.com written by Katy Bowman who is an expert in biomechanics. She has some incredible information on her blog about pelvic alignment and she also just released her first five years of blogging as a book.

Thanks to her info, I stopped doing kegels and started focusing on pelvic alignment and squatting. If you haven’t already, check out her post, “You Don’t Know Squat” (and Part II).

I especially found her info (and my daily practice) useful when I had to push in a hands and knees/modified squat position (of which there are pictures that nobody shall ever ever see!)

I think another factor is that I used a Squatty Potty (I reviewed it here) which made elimination easier while pregnant and which also was the reason for dilating 4 centimeters in one contraction.


I’d had some Chiropractic adjustment during all of my pregnancies but it was sporadic and I often didn’t make it a priority at the end when the crazy nesting kicked in.

This time, because she was breech, I was at the Chiropractor twice a week without fail for the last 8 weeks of pregnancy. My chiropractor focused on pelvic alignment and the webster technique, which has a good track record of getting breech babies to flip.

I’m convinced that my little one just wanted to hit the ground running (which she did and hasn’t stopped since) but she was delivered breech. Even though the chiropractic didn’t get her to flip, I think it did help make labor easier.

Healthy Fats

Fats are needed for proper hormone production and the body needs certain kinds of fats to make hormones correctly. Specifically, the body needs more saturated fats and absolutely no artificial fats like vegetable oils and margarine.

This pregnancy, I made it an absolute priority to consume a lot of saturated fats from sources like coconut oil, butter, tallow, animal products, etc and avoid completely all sources of vegetable oils. I also consumed plenty of Omega-3s from wild caught fish, fermented cod liver oil and chia seeds.

Being at Home

I know this won’t be a popular opinion with everyone, but I really do think that being at home during my labor made a big difference for me. Obviously it isn’t always the best option and even for me, a c-section save my son’s life (and mine).

For my specific birth in my specific case, it was the right decision and I also think it shortened my labor a lot since I was in a completely comfortable and safe environment and was able to really relax.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Betsy Greenleaf, the first board certified female urogynecologist in the United States. She is double board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Have you had a natural labor? Was there anything that made your labor easier or harder? Tell me below!


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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


60 responses to “5 Factors That Make Natural Labor Easier”

  1. Katie Avatar

    My first was a 3 1/2 hour natural labor – painful as anything and very intense, but could not have been happier with how it turned out. I agree that squats helped a ton! The last hour and a half I was on my knees leaning against the upright back of the hospital bed. Also, regular stretching and being mindful of how I sat. At work I used a birthing ball and at home I sat on the floor. Probably the greatest thing was getting Mayan Massages (Arvigo Massage Therapy) – highly recommended.

  2. Amy Avatar

    I’ve had 7, all at home – thankfully! I do like it and totally think it helps me relax. The biggest differences I have seen seem to be in physical make-up of the baby. We seem to produce 3 distinct body types and so far, each has copied the labor and delivery of the ones before them that had a similar body type. Strange, I know. One type is very difficult, one is ‘typical’ and the 3rd is fast – daddy had to deliver the last one like that!
    I ate dates the month preceding the birth of my 6th and her labor was the best of all. Why I didn’t eat them for the 7th is a slip up on my part and his was all but the worst and almost put me in the hospital. I’m expecting the 8th now and will totally be eating dates again!

  3. Wyndham Avatar

    Hi Katie! I love this post! I’m prepping for my 3rd natural labor in July. I’m pretty nervous b/c the previous 2 were very painful and very fast. I had absolutely terrible back labor and tore with both. With my second I had hemoraging that required large amounts of drugs to stop in order to save my life. How can I avoid back labor, tearing, and hemoraging for future births, particularly this next one? Would magnesium help with these concerns?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’d definitely bring up these concerns with a midwife or doctor. Personally, I’d check out spinningbabies.com for positioning to help avoid back labor (sometimes caused by a posterior baby who is rotating during labor). I also take red raspberry leaf, magnesium, and dates in the third trimester to help with labor (definitely all made a difference this time) and take Vitamin K2 (MK-7) and consume lots of leafy greens and chlorophyll to avoid excess bleeding…

  4. Tabetha Avatar

    Okay, a little off topic. I’ve been reading about how fetal lung surfactant is thought to be what causes the mother’s body to go into labor when the surfactant causes an inflammatory response in the uterus.

    Anyway, through my lay person’s research, I’ve found that these surfactants are made up of saturated fats, and it makes me wonder if increasing saturated fats (or the body’s ability to produce its own good cholesterol) might be somewhat toward inducing labor naturally.

    Of course, I don’t think anyone should really “induce” labor, and precisely because the baby may not be ready yet. Some premature babies may be over producing these surfactants or the mother’s uterus may overreact to them. However, in a normal pregnancy, I wonder if there is anything behind the idea of eating more saturated fats at the end of pregnancy.

    You mentioned healthy fats in your pregnancy and feeling like they were beneficial, I wonder if the amount of saturated fat has anything to do with babies arriving sooner instead of later?

    Just a thought!

  5. Carol Avatar

    With my first pregnancy I walked a lot! During labor I stayed mobile, sat on a birthing ball and stood as much as I could. I had an 8lb 8oz little girl in 4 hours. My second child (third pregnancy), I was induced, I did not walk at all and ended up with, not one, but TWO epidurals, and just sat for the entire delivery. It was a miserable delivery and I couldn’t stand for so long afterward! My second baby girl was 7lbs 14 oz and it took 10 hours to have her. She also had some health issues after being born, and I feel very strongly that it was from all of the meds given to me during labor. ? If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have done it differently.

  6. Rachel H. Avatar

    My first two pregnancies and births, which were both natural, I didn’t follow any of the above.I did have a good quality prenatal vitamin and drank loads of raspberry leaf tea in my third trimester. My first labor was 4.5 hours and my second labor was 2 hours. I’d say that they were both easy births. I’m currently pregnant with my third baby and I use homemade magnesium lotion nightly and it has caused a significant difference in my energy levels- even though I’m chasing two toddlers ages 2.5 and 1.5 🙂

    I am only 22 years old and this pregnancy has given me pretty bad varicose veins, even though I’ve been the healthiest this time around with food and exercise. Do you have any recommendations to lessen them?

  7. Sarah Avatar

    I had a natural, intervention-free, hospital birth, and yes, I enjoyed giving birth!

    I agree with you environment is so important, and I did most of the laboring at home. The warm shower, bath, bed and birthing ball were all things that helped me manage the pain.

    We followed the Bradley method, which I cannot recommend enough. It got me through 43 hours of labor.

    I ate a ton of eggs during my pregnancy (2/day) which helped promote healthy membranes to keep my bag of waters intact as long as possible. My water didn’t break until 2 hours before I was ready to push. This was a huge help as labor was much more painful after my water broke. Plus eggs are a great source of healthy fats!

    I did squats as well and they are so beneficial! Other exercises I found helpful were kegels, pelvic rocks and walking!

    2 days before I went into labor, I started drinking red raspberry tea and taking evening primrose oil supplements. I can’t say that those things induced labor as most research suggests evidence to support the notion is just anecdotal. But, it did help me feel like I was doing something to progress!

    So that was my experience! I enjoy reading what others have done! I find it encouraging and interesting!

  8. Iryna Avatar

    What helped to have a natural birth – is a good preparation, not just physical but also mental. Before I got pregnant I watched Business of Being Born and I decided to give birth with a midwife. That was the first step. I read a lot about childbirth, I watched videos of birth, but not terrifying ones, but inspiring videos. (eg. woman gave birth in the wild) I’m not saying I wanted to follow it, but it gave me the perception of how natural the process should be without all the intervention.
    I went to child-birthing classes. they taught me how to properly breath during contractions.
    I ate medjol dates, drank a lot of raspberry leaf tea, I exercised. I had my workout even on the day I went into labor. Also, I stayed at home for good portion of my labor. My midwife did a good a job, she just was sitting next to me and observing the process. She knew I was planning a natural birth. The whole process took 16 hours. My pushing stage was a little long, more than 2 hours, I was so exhausted. The midwife suggested to give a little pitocin, because my contractions were almost insensible, I didn’t know when to push. I said yes, because I was too tired, but I really don’t know if it helped me because I made a final push and my daughter was born. Overall, I’m very satisfied with my experience. I teach all my friends who go into labor to release all the fear and to be determined to have birth as natural as possible.

  9. Chelsea Paurus Avatar
    Chelsea Paurus

    Does anyone have any input on V-bacs? My 2nd baby is due May 3rd. My 1st baby was stuck and had to be delivered emergency c-section. Trying to decide whether or not I should try V-bac or just schedule another c-section.

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