A labour and birth checklist can help you remember the simple things that can be overlooked when you could be tired and in the thick of it with contractions.
All of these help to put you at the centre of it all – to focus on what you might need to be more comfortable and to give your body what it needs to work and help labour progress.
1. Do you feel safe?
It can make a difference to feel safe, secure and able to relax during labour, so you are not feeling tense or scared. This helps your body to produced oxytocin, which is needed to create strong and effective contractions.
- Do you need support/reassurance?
- Do you need to go to hospital?
- Do you need your midwife?
- Do you need quiet?
- Do you need lower lights?
- Do you need to focus on your breathing?
- Are you able to do what feels right for you?
2. What do you need?
- Put yourself at the centre of your care.
- Say what you need to feel supported, reassured, comfortable and safe.
3. Are you comfortable?
Listen to your body and move into positions can feel more comfortable and effective for you. Even if you need to be on a bed, movement is still possible.
- Can you change into a position that feels right for you so you are more comfortable for your contractions and to rest in-between?
4. Can you be more upright?
- If you are on the bed, you can still use gravity by sitting upright in labour and, with some support, getting up on your knees for birth.
- If you don’t need to be on the bed, try being off it and wandering or nesting, using a ball or a chair for support.
5. Are you drinking water?
It is easy to become dehydrated in labour and you can forget to drink because you are busy. This can be something that your birth partner focuses on.
- Regularly drinking water, even a few sips after each contraction, can help keep you stay hydrated. Pack some bendy straws to make this easier if you need to rest.
6. Do you need to eat?
It is largely a myth that you can’t eat in labour. It’s important to eat as normal in early labour – to give you the energy you need for later. When you have big, regular contractions you might not want a lot to eat but regular nibbles can boost your energy.
- You don’t have to eat a lot but nibbling on fruit and healthy snacks can help give you vital energy when you need it, especially if you are feeling hungry.
7. Are you going to the loo?
This is also easily overlooked – there’s a lot going on and you might not be aware that you need the loo. As you also need to be drinking plenty of water, it helps to go for a wee regularly, to empty your bladder – this makes you more comfortable and it gives your baby more room to get into a good position for birth.
- Try to have a wee each hour so you can keep your bladder empty.
8. Are you using your breathing?
Using your breathing so it slows and gives you focus is crucial – it keeps you calm and relaxed which helps your body produce the hormones it needs for powerful contractions and effective pain relief.
- If you are feeling tense or panicky, focus on your breathing to slow your heart-rate, to give you something positive to focus on and to get you back in control.
9. Are you able to rest?
Again, try to listen to your body and rest when you can and when you need to – you don’t have to be on the go all the time.
- You need to conserve your energy so flop, lean, relax, breathe and rest in-between your contractions even if they are close together.
10. Ask questions…
If something is suggested and you don’t know what it is, why you need it or if it just doesn’t feel right – ask for more information. No-one will mind and it can be important to feel informed and included in any next steps.
- What are the Benefits?
- What are the Risks?
- What are the Alternatives?
- What if we do Nothing?
It can seem like this is a lot to remember but it’s really just about being guided by your instincts and by your body.
And you’ve got this checklist to help you.
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Always seek medical support if you are concerned about yourself or your baby. Even if it is just a feeling that something isn’t right.
Copyright: Janine Smith