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!

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. Lisa Damron Avatar
    Lisa Damron

    Hello! I am a new reader to your blog, and I apologize for not reading through all the comments to see if you’ve already answered this, but could you please let me know which research you used for the comment, “first time v-bacs are often longer since the uterus can take time to contract effectively.” ? I have been discussing it with several people in a local ICAN group, and we’re curious as to the facts behind it. Thank you so much!

  2. Jesse Avatar

    I’m only 12 wks but I’m trying to mentally get ready to do a natural birth (when I put my mind to something I follow through) & helpful excercise. I am planning on an at home birth too! I really feel that will help keep me feeling secure & relaxed. I have really severe cramps when I’m on my period & always ended up squatting on the floor at the end of the bed with my back against the bed & that helps a lot. I am curious how the at home births work though. How is the mess contained?

  3. Michelle Avatar

    For me there were a few things that helped to create a perfect birth story for my son, who blessed our family last October. Firstly, being well-informed about what to expect and the process of labor, as well as being on the same page with my husband about how he could best support me was crucial. For months leading up to the birth I read a lot of women’s birth stories and tried to learn from their experiences. I loved reading anything by Ina May Gaskin, I love her approach and advice. As the whole process unfolded, I felt like I was sitting back in my head and thinking OK, I read about this, I must be dilating. I really tried to focus on surrendering to the process and would imagine how an animal just surrenders when they know they can’t fight their way out. I wanted to accept the process and allow it to happen. I also refused to ever get mean or swear and really tried to keep my energy focused on that if the contractions were faster and harder than I was going to meet my baby soon.

    Prior to the actual labor and delivery I also drank red raspberry leaf tea from about week 37. My midwife had warned me that after 30 years practicing she has seen it help to support efficient 10 hour labors, and my labor was 9 hrs and 48 minutes from water breaking to the birth of my son. This was my first birth by the way. My contractions were so effective, it only took 15 minutes of pushing and he was out. They were so strong it felt absolutely insane when he pushed through, but then it was over and he was out. I literally had no control over this, I felt like I was just sitting back and watching my body become an absolute powerhouse. Thank God I was in a tub because the birth happened so fast I probably would have tore more if I didn’t have warm water to help stretch the skin. As it was I only needed 2 stitches. My birth was completely natural by the way, no drugs.

    Throughout my pregnancy I also listened to my cravings and would try to do what felt right. I often craved healthy food, but as it got closer I craved a lot of carbs and figured this made sense since I was basically preparing for a marathon. I rested a lot towards the end, but when it felt right I would go on brisk walks and swim.

    I think a combination of all of these things helped me, but mostly I think my Grandmother was watching out for me and was by my side ushering my son’s safe arrival. She had died days before he was born and I know she was there in spirit with us.

  4. Mary Avatar

    I had some a question for you. Most lactation consultants say to increase your consumption of certain grains to increase milk production. Since the grains seem to have such a negative impact; what do you suggest to use instead?

    1. candice h Avatar
      candice h

      soak your grains-and seeds and nuts too!- for your oats–overnight in water with whey (look up technique-super easy in the nourishing traditions cookbook)… probably the same for other grains too…but lactation support can come from better things than grains…read Making more milk…it saved my life!
      Think goats rue tincture, funegreek (once baby is here), making your own pregnancy and lactation herb blend… Take your tinctures regularly and drink your red raspberry leaf tea before delivery and for a week or so after (Making more milk suggests discontinuing use after 2 weeks if using while lactating and not pregnant)… Motherlove brand products are also fantastic for stimulating or increasing milk as is consuming nutrient rich foods like liver-Raw is best (I make frozen liver squares I can swallow) and gelatin, bone broth, ikura, raw grassfed dairy-look into Weston A Price for nutritional info on that-research and traditional cultural lifestyles don’t lie—a lot of the wellness mama followers are paleo so may disagree about dairy… I am not allergic to dairy (if its raw) and I consume lots of it and I have great dietary and lifestyle success with dairy.

      I am lactation research overloaded since I struggled with my first BF experience…
      hope this helps.

  5. Meghan Avatar

    All three of my babies were born in a free-standing birth center, no medications or interventions, but all three were different. Baby #1 was born at 40 weeks 4 days after a 13 hour labor that included 4 hours of pushing. She was 8 lbs 1 oz and I had a small tear. Following her birth I retained placenta, had a postpartum hemorrhage, and had to be transferred by ambulance to the local ER for a blood transfusion. Scary stuff. But, when I became pregnant with baby #2 I talked to my midwife about how to avoid another traumatic birth. We agreed that I was very stressed, exhausted, and dehydrated, which contributed to the hemorrhage. I also had scar tissue from a previous surgery for endometriosis. With baby #2 I started drinking red raspberry leaf tea in the third trimester to tone my uterus and make contractions more efficient. RRL tea is also high in magnesium and calcium. After 40 weeks I was up to a quart per day. He was born at 41 weeks 5 days after a 2.5 hour labor with 20 minutes of pushing. 8 lbs 15 oz. no tearing. With baby #3, I knew two things (I thought) were certain: I’d have a fast labor, and I’d be pregnant past 40 weeks. Because we were certain I’d have a super fast labor, we planned an unassisted home birth. Again I drank RRL tea in the third trimester. Imagine my surprise when I went to my midwife for my 38 week appointment and was told my contractions were not just Braxton Hicks! He was born that day after 1.5 hours of labor (yep 90 minutes) and born head to toe in one push.

  6. Gayla Avatar

    I had 3 children completely natural–except they were in Naval hospitals. Most women don’t take this lightly, but I had the first in 5 hours; the second in 3 and the last in 1 1/2 hours. My mother said it must be the Native American on my father’s side and suggested I could have just squatted using a tree. LOL

    I rarely had nausea, just queasiness with certain thins–like red meat hitting the pan–it made me very nauseous, but eased quickly.

    Please accept my sympathies to all of you that labored harder or longer. I don’t think I could have done it!

  7. Christa Avatar

    I was very committed to going to the chiropractor while pregnant with my second daughter. I felt so much better when I would go! I definitely think it helped shorten my labor. We had planned to have a home birth (with midwives) but from my first contraction to my little lady making her appearance was only an hour! Our midwife did not make it in time! I agree being at home makes a huge difference. We felt safe and comfortable, and unpressured. Being fully relaxed I’m sure helped move things along and my tiny gal pal was born straight into her daddy’s arms healthy and perfect!

  8. Fae Avatar

    Oh! And because I was going to beauty school I was on my feet a lot and having too many contractions. I ended up stopping because I was so swollen and would have contractions for two hrs once I was home again. (With no consistent time in between).

    Once I stopped I went to the chiropractor at least once a week especially towards the end, and I am convinced to this day that I would have had a preterm baby if I hadn’t started going to the chiropractor. Having my body in align when carrying another human was a huge benefit when it came to labor, I felt anyway.

  9. Fae Avatar

    One of the things that really helped me with labor was having lavender lotion thatmy nurse ended up having. The smell and the soothing of being touched between contractions was distracting as well as relaxing. I will have it the next time.

    I also used evening primrose oil once I got to 3 wks before due date and took it orally except for 3 times as I wanted to have some oil inside to help with stretching during birth. I only did it a little because I did not think doing it all the time was a good thing.

    I also took aloe vera with fennel seed (natures way) to help with the constipation; it was the only thing that worked.

  10. Sara Avatar

    Just found out i am pregnant with baby #2, and i have to say i love your posts about motherhood. I used a chiropractor every other week during the last half of my first pregnancy and i reallybelieve it helped me have an easy birth. That, and hypnobirthing – it rocks!

  11. Racheal Avatar

    Yes, being at home makes a difference! My first two were home births and they were short (maximum 4.5 hours), relaxed and no intervention needed. No problems occurred. The next three were at hospital. #3 and #4 I had hemorrhaging, which seemed weird after no trouble on the first two births. Then for #5 I was still at the hospital, but in their birth centre with an excellent Christian midwife who looked at my records and said the bleeding was probably purely because I was out of my comfort zone and so she focused on making me completely confident and relaxed about the birth…and what do you know, I didn’t hemorrhage!
    I found raspberry leaf tincture, via a prescription from my naturopath made a huge difference to my 5th birth. I took this diluted in water daily for the last 4-6 weeks of the pregnancy. At first I wasn’t sure I was in labour because the pain was so mild, and was more like a back ache than the contractions I was used to. We thought labour wasn’t progressing because contractions weren’t getting much worse, so the midwife checked and she could feel my son’s head about to come out! The tincture had conditioned me so well, it was a cruisy birth (it wasn’t pain free, but it was certainly pain reduced).

  12. Megan Avatar

    I had a very difficult pregnancy but a very easy natural labor; for me it was doing yoga. I had a video that demonstrated adaptations for each trimester and I did it every night before bed to relax and it helped me to get to sleep because at the end I would be so relaxed sometimes that I would fall asleep on the living room floor! It also helped me to learn to control my breathing as it related to contracting/relaxing muscles which I think really helped me during labor. The nurses commented that I was incredibly “focused”. Next time I am going to try your suggestion of magnesium because I had those leg cramps really bad, especially in the middle of the night!

    1. Crystal Avatar

      May I ask what yoga video it was? I just found out I am pregnant, have done a little bit of yoga in the past and would really like to start doing it again. Thanks!

  13. April T Avatar

    I’ve had four natural births in the past 12 years. The first two were with doctors in a hospital; the last two at HOME – lovely! My last one was also breech, but it was my easiest labor and delivery; and by far, the easiest recovery. I literally had no soreness and only had mild after-birth pains the first night. I really didn’t even feel like I’d had a baby. Plus, he was born so quickly that my midwife didn’t make it for the birth, oops! 🙂 It was a lovely experience!
    I am now pregnant again, and really looking forward to the birth again. During my last pregnancy, I had regular acupuncture treatments, which I know made a huge difference in my comfort, and I really believe it helped my labor and recovery. I am starting them again now and will continue until delivery.
    I have done squats through all of my pregnancies, as well as drinking raspberry leaf tea. Those things do wonders to build up the muscles and prevent tearing.
    Of course, being at home makes a WORLD of difference. I will never plan to go to a hospital again for something so natural as (normal) childbirth. I am passionate about homebirth!

  14. Amanda Avatar

    I had both of my children naturally at a hospital with midwives. The midwives were great. The second birth was much faster, but more intense than the first. Baby 2 was delivered within 2 hours of getting to the hospital. Somethings that I think help having a natural birth and then breastfeeding successfully are sheer determination. Both can be challenging, but if you don’t consider alternatives it you can drive yourself to stick to it. Also with baby 2, I drank red raspberry leaf tea at the end of the pregnancy. I also was very physically active during my pregnancy and squatting really helped to stretch and tone the muscles needed for delivery. With my first I took childbirth classes at the hospital, they were okay at prepping you for what to expect, but not at pain management. With number 2, I read Hypnobirthing. I didn’t want to shell out the money for the class, but the book had some very useful relaxation tips (think meditation) and visualization exercises. I think these really helped me to progress in labor. There was still pain, but it was manageable. Might consider the class if and when baby 3 comes along. Women have been doing this for centuries without drugs…Why can’t we?

  15. Mary B. Worthington Avatar
    Mary B. Worthington

    HI Katie– would you mind telling me which magnesium supplement you used? Thanks!

  16. Stazia Avatar

    I had an amazing 6hr natural labor (I was at 3cm before labor actually started) and I took many an Epsom salt bath and took and oral magnesium (disgusting), I couldn’t exercise as I had preterm labor and was on bed rest for quite some time…but I think the biggest factor was environment. I was at a birth center, a quiet, relaxed, safe, supportive environment. Having spent quite a lot of time in the hospital with pre term contractions I can honestly say I could NOT have done it naturally and as pleasantly in a hospital… It’s just stressful being there and being checked and stuck and uncomfortable. The biggest factor for me was freedom and being comfortable. I loved the post and have some things to add for next time! I will say though, that as one of the rare people who suffered from HG the magnesium/morning sickness correlation makes me want to hurl wet cats at someone. Lol. I’m glad it has worked for people, but relief just was not that simple for me (and other HG mamas)

  17. Carrie Lambourne Avatar
    Carrie Lambourne

    having baby #5 in a few months, will be my third home birth. I love giving birth at home with experienced midwives. It really is an option more people should look into. For many, many women, it’s in fact a MORE safe option (statistics don’t lie!). A great book I read on the subject was “Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born” by Tina Cassidy. The author is not a crazy, biased, home-birth mama, but just a journalist who was interested in the history of birth after having her own son. Great read.

  18. Juli Avatar

    I was induced at 41 weeks and had epidural with #1. #2 I had a 16 hour natural labor (about 6-8 hours of it was painful). I did a lot of squatting (with rocking) during my third trimester. I took red raspberry leaf. I practiced relaxing my jaw, shoulders, hands and feet and thought a lot about my mother and grandmother who had 6 and 8 sucessful natural births respectively. During early labor, I did chores and practiced my jaw, shoulder, hands and feet relaxation. I also got my bag ready and a labor playlist. I hopped in the shower and promptly vomited. I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible. Key things I took to the hospital: laptop with my labor music, coconut water, honey candy and chamomile tea. Got to the hospital at 7 cm. I drank the tea and ate the candy constantly. I danced to my labor music on the hospital-provided birth ball. I tried to conciously relax my tension hot spots (jaw, shoulders, hands, feet). I spent a lot of time in the shower. It was tough. I begged for an epidural (it was way too late for that) but I made it through and delivered my 8 lb 5 oz baby boy.

  19. sarita coren Avatar
    sarita coren

    Very helpful! I also drank red raspberry leaf tea and nettles throughout my pregnancies and it definitely made a difference. Also, I supplemented with a liquid iron that was non-constipating. These kept my iron levels up. Great post! Thanks.

  20. ellenhunt.doula Avatar

    A great post, especially the advice on exercise/squats. This site is a wealth of knowledge. I’m currently in Australia studying to become a doula as well and I’m so glad there are so many enlightened people out there that I can learn from!

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