There are several different labor methods that most women use to control pain, anxiety, and to bring their babies into the world peacefully. Here you'll find information on the most commonly used methods with links to more detailed websites and classes.
HypnoBirthing® - The Mongan Method is as much a philosophy as it is a technique. The concept of HypnoBirthing® is not new, but rather a "rebirth" of the philosophy of birthing as it existed thousands of years ago and as it was recaptured in the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who, in the 1920s, was one of the first to forward the concept of natural birthing. The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor.
You will gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony--as they were designed to--when your body is sufficiently relaxed and you trust birth. You will learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, free of the resistance that fear creates, and you will learn to use your natural birthing instincts for a calm, serene and comfortable birth. (hypnobirthing.com)
This method does require preparation in order to be used correctly and effectively, but it is well worth the time and energy. There are books available with relaxation CD's and also classes that you can take to get the full experience of Hypnobirthing. I have personally used this method with a few women and the experience was incredible.
For more information click the following link Hypnobirthing.
The Bradley Method® teaches natural childbirth and views birth as a natural process. The Bradley Method® is a system of natural labor techniques in which a woman and her coach play an active part. It is a simple method of increasing self-awareness, teaching a woman how to deal with the stress of labor by tuning in to her own body. The Bradley Method® encourages mothers to trust their bodies using natural breathing, relaxation, nutrition, exercise, and education. (bradleybirth.com)
This is the birthing technique I personally refer to when helping women. It is the easiest to apply, even if you've never picked up the book, and really brings a sense of control and peace to the mother and her husband. This is also the best method for dads to feel involved as there is lots for the husband to do.
Follow this link to learn more and to find a Bradley class near by Bradley Method
Known benefits of water labor and waterbirth
Placing a pool of water in a birth room changes the atmosphere immediately. Voices get softer, the mother stays calmer and everyone becomes less stressed.There also becomes an obvious 'imaginary' wall between the laboring mother or couple and the nurses and Dr. thus leaving her/them to labor more intimately together.
The effects of buoyancy that deep water immersion creates allows spontaneous movement of the mother. No one has to help the mother get into a new position. She moves as her body and the position of the baby decide. Movement helps open the pelvis, allowing the baby to descend.
When a woman in labor relaxes in a warm deep tub, free from gravity's pull on her body, with sensory stimulation reduced, her body is less likely to secrete stress-related hormones. This allows her body to produce the pain inhibitors-endorphins-that complement labor. Noradrenaline and catecholamines, the hormones that are released during stress, actually raise the blood pressure and can inhibit or slow labor. A laboring woman who is able to relax physically, is able to relax mentally as well. Many women, midwives, and doctors acknowledge the reduction in pain due to the effects of water. Thousands of mothers have stated they would never be able to consider laboring without water again.
For further information and documentation on water birth visit Waterbirth.org
Here is a link to an article on CNN about how valuable a doula is and what a doulas' role is.