How to Use the Pain Gate Control Theory During Labor

The Pain Gate Control Theory is about flooding your brain with positive stimulus while using your five senses. When you do this, your brain accepts the more positive stimulus and minimizes the negative stimulus such as pain. Using all of your senses won't take the pain completely away, but it will help to minimize the discomfort of labor. Here is how to do it.

Things You'll Need

  • Scented lotion or oil
  • Massager
  • Music
  • Photos or pleasant objects
  • Breath mints or candy


    • 1

      Engage your sense of touch. Have your partner use a lavender lotion or oil and give you a nice, relaxing hand massage. He can also massage your back, neck or hips. Relaxing touch in these areas can really help send positive messages to your brain which releases endorphins, your body' s natural pain medicine.

    • 2

      Engage your sense of smell. If your partner massaged your hand with lavender lotion, bring it to your nose during the next contraction. Inhale softly. You can also use any type of oil, perfume, fruit--anything that provides a scent that you like.

    • 3

      Engage your sense of hearing. Bring music to play during your labor. If you don't want to play it out loud, you can bring an MP3 or IPod player with headphones. Pop in some of your favorite tunes and either sing along or rock to the rhythm using your birthing ball.

    • 4

      Engage your sense of sight. Use pleasing visuals to get you further in your labor. You can bring a picture of your ultrasound, your wedding photo or maybe a photo of your favorite aunt. You can use anything you want as a focal point or memory. If you don't have an object to bring and want to be more creative, take yourself on a beautiful journey during contractions and visualize your scenery.

    • 5

      Engage your sense of taste. While this may prove to be challenging for hospital births, it can be done. Ice doesn't cut it very well, so use a Listerine strip or a Tic Tac mint. Although it won't give you the same effect or energy as eating will, it may help to take your mind off of the pain you're feeling.

    • 6

      Use a few senses at once for better relief. Chew a Tic Tac while you are getting a hand massage. Then, as the contraction hits, you will have two other things to focus on instead of just the pain of the contraction. Combine as many things as you can and switch them up until you find what works for you.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you choose to use a scent like a perfume or an oil, put it on a cotton ball instead of spraying it in the room. If you don't like it, you will be able to remove it very quickly.
  • If you decide to bring a CD player to the hospital, make sure you bring enough batteries to last. Plugging it in may not be an option.
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