Jewish Moms' Top 10 Tips for a Drug-Free Pain-Free Birth

Two weeks ago I asked for recommendations based on your own birth experiences about how to make birth easier and better…Here are some of the highlights from the amazing tips you moms sent in:

Tip #1: Hypnotherapy CD by Shawn Gallagher

Midwife L says: I would like to tell everyone that birth can be relatively painless and deeply beautiful. For my births I used an incredible hypnotherapy CD from the hypnotherapist Shawn Gallagher‏. See her website: The CD contains birthing suggestions, quick self-hypnosis, and pregnancy relaxation.

The woman who made the CD says if one does not have time to listen to the CD during the day, just put it on when you go to sleep at night. It will work on your subconscious while you are asleep. That’s exactly what I did and…it worked beautifully.

Tip #2: The Mongan Method Hypobirthing Book/CD Set

Sari says: Another hypnobirthing CD is from the Hypnobirthing book/CD set by Marie Mongan ( ) Many women can find Hypnobirthing classes in their cities- if I could find one in rural NH, I know they must be everywhere!…

I had a natural, drug-free VBAC birth with my second baby.  One thing that really struck me about the sensations of childbirth is that to me it wasn’t scary b/c I knew it was not pathological, I knew it was serving a purpose. In addition, the relief between the pain of the contractions was so beautifully the opposite-of-pain that it was pure bliss. Really being able to relax in between the work of contractions was very helpful to me.

Tip #3: Get Empowered about the Birth!

Tamar says: Thank G-d, I have been blessed with 2 births so far…What I believe helped me the most during my labors was feeling EMPOWERED. I got to this place by reading a lot about labor. I highly recommend Rachel Broncher’s book “A Labor of Love.” I… wrote up my own Birth Plan and jotted down a few important notes on an index card to give to my midwife at the hospital. My midwife was amazing and complied to all my requests…even dimming the lights in the delivery room!

My one piece of advice is that you must take birthing into your own hands and not succumb to the hospital all the time…you are your best advocate!

Although there is so much about birthing that is out of our control…there is still a lot in our control, especially our own positive thinking and affirmations that we instill in ourselves to ensure an amazing labor. And [don’t forget to] daven, daven, daven!!

Tip #4: Let go of Fear

Doula Ruchi says: I agree with all the other posters that birth is a very individual experience and that everyone needs to make their own choices. There is no one way that is right for everybody. However, what is universal is the need for a woman to let go of all her fears of pregnancy and childbirth etc. The message we get that birth is painful, something we need to “endure” etc. is very deeply rooted in most of us. When we are tense, we stop breathing and clench all our muscles. We are essentially fighting the natural labor process of opening up.

If we could find a way to be calmer- with the help of a doula or other support person, or through breathing, relaxation CDs or whatever works for you- it would allow our bodies to relax and allow the process of childbirth to unfold. Things would go much smoother and we could finally see that our bodies were indeed created for this. For more information, go to

Tip #5: G-d’s Name
Chana says: During my 3rd birth, when the contractions got really strong and I didn’t know how to cope with them, a friend told me to concentrate on the 4 letters of G-d’s name “Yud Heh Vuv Heh.” During each contraction I would say these letters over and over to myself, and the pain-relieving effect was nothing short of miraculous. It really took away the pain. This has worked just as miraculously during the 2 births I’ve had since.

I also find it really helpful during the contractions to focus on different Torah verses recommended by Rabbi Ginsburg. They help me to really feel how G-d is helping me through the birth, rather than on the intensity of the contractions.

I would also recommend to every mom to go to the birth with a Doula/ Labor Coach. Even if you plan to get an epidural the moment you get into the delivery room, or plan to go to the birth with your husband, I cannot stress enough how much easier and better birth is when you go with a woman who can provide a positive, calming, and confident been-there-done-that presence during your birth. I experienced my first 2 births without a doula, and the following three births with, and I will never ever go again without a doula!

Tip #6: Listen to Positive Birth Stories

Adi says: …I wonder if more women were exposed to positive, enthusiastic, embracing stories about childbirth and experienced less fear and anxiety about it, if they would in turn be more calm and well prepared emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, and physically for birth, and then in turn have happier, calmer, more positive birth experiences themselves?

Tip #7: The Bradley Method

Elana says: If you want to really get the specifics on how to realize labor and birth not as a process of pain and agony but as a gorgeous, natural transition where you get to meet and see your baby and help bring him/her into the world after 10 months of being inside your body, read an instructional book about The Bradley Method.

It’s full of drawings of what is going on in the woman’s body during labor so that you have a clear mental picture of what to focus on.

It gives exercises to practice so that you go into labor totally prepared about how to handle the strong sensations of the uterine muscles flexing.

(It’s supposed to be husband-coached childbirth but I did it on my own — for my MD husband it’s a little too hippie-dippie and he kept laughing through the exercises. Hey — you gotta know what you have to work with!)

It’s amazing how mind over matter can influence one’s experience, turning it from scary to positive and totally under control…The Bradley Method is a very effective way to actualize the inspiration and have a great, natural birth, G-d willing.

Tip #8: EFT

Rachael Leah says: I imagine birth to be a joyful, supportive, ecstatic experience for women, and there are so many tools out there to help laboring women to stay relaxed and calm during the birth process. I highly recommend Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which I used a lot during my second pregnancy and labor to help release my fear and anxiety…EFT and Hypnobirthing together was just such a great combination, really helping me feel calm and empowered during the labor. Afterward I kept saying how I felt like a mother lion, powerful and great, guiding this huge amazing process going on inside me, focused completely on me and the baby, it was such a huge amazing experience! I would NEVER have traded it for ANYTHING – no way!

Tip #9: Do Yoga

Michelle says: Giving birth to my daughter is one of the best memories I have…Every time I pass the hospital I feel a rush of joy and gratitude wash over me as I remember that amazing day.

My advice: Do yoga at least 3-4 days/week your entire pregnancy. I did it up until the day of the birth (I was literally in yoga class a couple hours before my water broke, a week overdue), and this allowed most of the labor to progress pain-free.

Tip #10: Read Ina May

“Mother in Jerusalem” says: Ina May Gaskin ( is my birthing guru/rebbe/muse/hero/whatever you want to call it. Giving birth to my daughter was probably the most amazing experience of my life yet, and I think that reading “Spiritual Midwifery” and “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” and hearing Ina May speak about two months before I gave birth helped me experience birth in this way…

Anyway, I want to tell everyone that my labor was NOT PAINFUL AT ALL!!!! I would instead say that it was intense and something that I had to focus all of my attention and energies on, but it basically felt like I was riding waves, and if I breathed the right way, I could just kind of ride the waves peacefully.

Photo courtesy of user Renske


  1. While reading though your tips, I realized that this is yet another “Birth will be great if you just stay positive”-article that, in my case, made me feel miserable for weeks after my birth.

    I did most of the things described in the article and was really looking forward to the birth of my first child. After being 10 days overdue, I was induced at the recommendation of both the doctors and our Rabbi who is also a Doctor.

    Despite my positive attitude ( we even have a video of me singing in the beginning of the contractions), a jewish doula with me, my Hypnobirthing practice and reading “A labor of love”, the birth did not progress- after 24 hours of waiting, oxytocin and an epidural (which I for my part can only recommend, it made the birth 100% easier! Don’t know why this is so looked down upon these days) I had to have an emergency c-section as I was stuck at 4cm dilation and the heartbeat of the baby was getting worse.

    Why do I tell this? because, after getting through all this, my husband (who was a tremendous help and still is, he remember parts of the birth I cannot and therefore helps me to make my peace with it) was asked: “was the c-section really necessary?”

    We are now so used to these articles above that we think that if we really, really want and try, we’ll have the birth of our dreams. And if HaShem does not give us this, we feel like loosers. I have spoken with so many of my friends who felt betrayed after their birth because they prepared themselves with all these methods described above and still found birth tremendously hard- some even traumatic.

    Why do you even write “pain free birth”? How many women actually HAVE a pain free birth? When someone gets his wisdom teeth out, would we tell them it does not hurt? No, but getting a child out of your body will just be fine…

    It took me weeks to get over the fact that my birth was not as described by all these wonderful books, that I did not feel HaShems presence although I know He was there and that I had to have a c-section. And nowhere can I read an article about these feelings! How come?

    I appreciate that you’re trying to help women giving birth in the best possible way, but don’t sugarcoat or whitewash this experience- they might have a wonderful birth, but if they don’t, they’ll feel guilty that they should have tried harder (like I felt) or were not relaxed enough. This is like telling a sick person that if he just would think positive, he would be healthy again.

    From what I hear around me, we need more articles about women who learned how to cope with a birth trauma than yet another attempt to tell women that they can control the birth if they just breath right, prepare themselves etc. No, they can’t always, and that’s fine- but it would be nice to hear that from time to time.

  2. Great blog here! Also your site loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  3. Hi,
    This is in response to Michal about the Pitocin induction-epidural-emergency c-section story.

    I’m sorry you felt dissapointed. The thing is, lists like the one above apply mostly only to non-drugged births. Yours was with Pitocin, which is synthetic, and as such, is really, REALLY difficult to handle and doesn’t work with natural methods like the ones above. So, please don’t consider yours a case of not being able to be positive. Once you’re on Pitocin, you’re off the trajectory of lists like the one above.

    If in the future you would like to be able to implement a drug-free, and as pain free as possible birth, you can consult about how to avoid Pitocin altogether if you’d like.

    May you and your family know health and happiness, until 120.

    Kind regards,
    Doula, Jerusalem

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