Every Sunday I will be sharing personal stories, advice, tips and general chit chat about pregnancy, labour and birth. I’m actually starting off with some tips on how to prepare for labour. It’s always best to be well prepared and to start thinking about these things right from the beginning of pregnancy. I’m somebody who has to be prepared and know as much information as possible in order to alleviate any anxiety I may have. Every woman tends to fear labour a little, especially the first time around when it’s all the unknown. All you have to go off are other women’s birth stories, and these usually aren’t the most reassuring of stories. Also, every birth is so different, you really can’t predict what type of birth you’re going to have. When expectant mums ask me what labour is like, it’s very easy to get carried away with the gory details. However, we need to remember to share positive and useful advice with expectant mums, rather than scare them to death with what’s to come!
If you are interested in reading my birth story then click here, but as I previously mentioned – everyone will have a different experience of birth, some people have the most relaxing and empowering births. If you’re currently pregnant, I imagine you’re feeling a mixture of emotions. It’s incredibly exciting, but there’s always that underlying apprehension of what’s yet to come. I’ve teamed up with Marie Louise – ‘The Modern Midwife’ (@the_modern_midwife), to give you some really useful tips for a positive labour experience.
Marie is a senior midwife and maternity educator who also runs her own business, ‘Marie Louise Maternity’, selling ‘British pre-packed baby changing bags for labour, birth and beyond’. Check out her beautiful bags here. Before I share the interview I did with Marie, here are a few of my own personal tips.
My Tips For Labour:
- Buy a birthing ball and use it regularly at home leading up to labour. I used to do gentle bounces, small hip circles and gentle rocking on the ball whilst watching telly! It’s also really good if you have SPD or Pelvic Girdle Pain. Then take it with you to hospital just in case they don’t have one available. It will be really useful during labour as you want to remain as active as possible.
- Hire or purchase a tens machine. I just hired one off of ebay here. It’s great because these tens machines are quite expensive to buy, but you only need it for a day or two so it’s not worth buying one. You have it for 7 weeks too, so there’s no rush to send it back straight away. You will be able to labour at home for longer if you have one of these. I managed 8 hours at home in established labour just using my tens and rocking on my ball. Oh, and you’ll be so glad to have it for the car journey to hospital! I cranked it right up in the car as it was painful sitting down.
- Download some of your favourite music on to your ipod. Have a mixture of up-beat, motivational music and relaxing, soft music. Make sure you take your charger with you too!!
- Take plenty of snacks with you. During the early stages of labour it’s so important to stay well nourished and hydrated. Lucozade sport drinks are fantastic for hydration as they contain electrolytes to keep you hydrated and energised.
Now for some professional advice on how to have a positive, quick and smooth labour! Here’s the interview I did with Marie:
As a midwife, what do you believe is the most important thing for a smooth/positive labour experience?
1. Try not to be distracted or freak out, the big moment has arrived but it’s okay. Start with your mental strength early on so maintain your mindset. Try to turn off mental processes and allow your body to instinctively labour.
2. Have a warm bath, or use a hot water bottle on your lower back it really does help ease the height of contractions.
3. How you breathe is essential for managing labour, start practising your breathing in a calm relaxed environment during pregnancy. Relax your jaw completely, on the in breath take in clean nourishing oxygen. On the out breath, breathe away the pain and any fear or anxiety you may have. Focusing on your breathing relaxes the mind, increases the flow of oxygen and provides a helpful boost of energy.
4. Adopt good positions, upright, leaning over a counter or hold onto your birth partner, put the pelvis back and mobilize, this provides adequate space for your babys head to descend and gravity takes it’s course.
5. Cuddle your birth partner between contractions, literally lean on him/her and or hold hands, research shows that touch reduces pain. Your birth partner can and should help you stay focused on your breathing an keep reminding you of your techniques.
A lot of women I speak to feel unsure of the medical environment for giving birth. What would you say to women who fear the medical environment?
Do you need to give birth in a medical environment first off? Can you go to a midwifery led unit or have a home birth? If not then the best advice I have is don’t worry about something you can’t do anything about. If you build up a fear in your head prior to going into hospital it will become a really scary moment when you do, so just surrender to your circumstances and accept that’s the safest place for you to give birth. You can make the transition to hospital less daunting by doing small things like bringing your own pillow in with a few drops of lavender and having a labour playlist you’ve already put together. Listen to this playlist during your pregnancy in your favourite room in your house, with your eyes closed whilst siting on a birthing ball or the end of your bed. That way, when you’re in hospital you can put your music on, close your eye’s and you’ll be back in your favourite room.
What would you say is the best position for encouraging a shorter labour?
Your knees should be lower than your hips as much as possible. Good positions that allow this are…
1. All fours
3. Leaning over a surface
4. Siting on a birthing ball
Lastly, what are your top 5 essential items to pack in a hospital bag when preparing for labour/giving birth?
1.Hair ties. Not everyone needs them, but those that do will really appreciate these in labour! You may get hot and having hair stuck to and around your face in labour is irritating. If you are breastfeeding, you want to make sure that you can see your babies attachment properly. Plus, you can pop the hair tie on the wrist you last fed from so you don’t have to write it down or try to remember!
2. Really stretchy maternity knickers They should come up high to cover the abdomen in case of caesarian section and they are more supportive even if you have had a normal birth your tummy doesn’t go down right away. Everyone loves Bridget Jones style knickers postnatally.
3. Buttoned maternity nightshirt, perfect for breastfeeding Nightshirts are great as they unbutton for breastfeeding mummies and are also really accommodating if you’re struggling to bend over to sit on the loo. Not glamourous but you can simply stand and wee if you need to. Also if you do have a C-section you won’t have Pj bottoms irritating your wound. 4. 100% Organic Inlight NYP & baby balm cream It’s a dual purpose cream for cracked nipples and nappy rash. Skin is the human body’s largest organ and neonatal skin is 5x more permeable than yours so whatever you put on your newborn babies skin will be absorbed. Unfortunately, unlike organic food, there are no legal standards for organic cosmetic products. Inlight organic skincare contains the finest and most effective organic food-grade and cold-pressed oils, herbs, the purest essential oils and beeswax. That’s it!
5. Natural, unbleached maternity pads… They are more gentle on your skin and the environment. Your pads should be 100% chlorine free because this prevents the formation of dioxins, highly carcinogenic pollutants within the product. You maybe sore and sensitive so it’s important to look after it and not expose delicate areas to harsh chemicals and bleaches.
Thank you so much for taking the time to give such fantastic advice – I know this will be of great help to a lot of expectant mums.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post! I look forward to sharing more pregnancy, labour and birth advice with you next Sunday! If you’d like to get in touch with some ideas for future posts or just to say hello then head over to my instagram @tinytoeshealthyglows. Check out Maries instagram too @the_modern_midwife.
Big love x