One at a Time
It will really help you if you try and live in the moment, breathe through your contraction, and take each one as it comes. Don’t think about what’s happening next or how many more there will be; you’ll feel far more powerful if you concentrate solely on the one you are having.
Every woman will birth differently; there’s no right or wrong way! It’s vital that you labour as YOU feel like doing. If you let yourself be you then your natural rhythm to give birth won’t be ignored.
You will instinctively find your own way of coping to reduce the pain and move forward so you are closer to meeting your baby.
You may be silent, sway from side to side, moan, cry, swear or whatever you feel like doing; but please be true to yourself as your body is trying to help you the best way it knows how.
Don’t be surprised if some of what you feel like doing is not what you’d expected!
Watch the temperature of the water if you are having either a bath or using a birthing pool. Water that is too hot can reduce the blood flow to your baby. Being in water can help you relax, lower high blood pressure, can sometimes act as a pain relief and will let you move around a bit more freely. ALWAYS make sure you have someone with you.
Make sure to bring one as not only may you want to squeeze it during labour, but your birth partner can roll it along the bottom of your back which can act as a natural pain relief.
But not hot! Your body will relax more when it’s warm but you don’t want to overheat as you will feel less energetic.
Eat and Drink
Try and have something every few hours, especially in early labour, as this will give you energy for later when you may not feel like eating.
Keep the food light and easily digestible and it might be worth asking your partner to remind you to have something as, amazingly, eating and drinking in labour has been shown to reduce the total length of labour by as much as 1½ hours!
You may feel like a massage, or you may not. Make your partner aware that this could be the case, so they aren’t offended if you don’t want to be touched.
Anywhere on the body is great as it will help you feel relaxed and loved, but a tip is to try having your feet and hands massaged as these are hairless parts of the body and it can reduce the sensation of pain.
Cold Face Cloth
Especially a soft one from home that smells of your own washing. Get your partner to regularly wipe your face as women in labour are like hot water bottles!
You will instinctively want to breathe deeply as this will keep your mind busy, give you energy, but it also keeps the oxygen circulating around your body to you and your baby.
Tip: I used to think in my head “I’m going to meet my baby” and say it several times when breathing in and then would breathe out thinking “soon, soon, soon” which gave me something to think about and I would know I had taken a deep enough breath. It’s tempting to hold your breath as we naturally do with pain but really try to breathe deeply as this will help you stay relaxed.
Remember that feeling stressed or anxious can slow your labour down and that’s the last thing you want to do; you’ve waited 9 months already! It’s a proven fact that fear in labour will increase the pain so try and stay as chilled as you can. Relax between contractions; you may even be able to have a few minutes kip (this is how animals deal with labour, because they aren’t waiting for the next one).
You Produce Your Own Drugs
As the pain builds up in your body while you are labouring you will produce endorphins to help you. During your labour, your brain will release Beta Endorphine which is a natural equivalent to painkillers with the bonus of giving you that ‘floating’ feeling.
Interestingly it also encourages us to follow our instincts … BUT if you are stressed by everything your body will instead produce Adrenalin which works against the endorphins and will slow everything down.
Your body is trying to help you and so you can help it by trying to stay as relaxed as possible.
Make Your Nest
If allowed, surround yourself with things that may relax you; a favourite blanket, candles, earphones so you can listen to favourite music alone, cosy socks, your own pillow or anything that makes you feel safe.
Crazy as it sounds, try humming as when you do you will be relaxing your birthing muscles.
Believe in Yourself
You really can do this, it’s nearly time to meet your baby and your body has been designed to take you there.
You are AMAZING … keep reminding yourself of that!