Knowing what to do during labour and birth can make all the difference in keeping you comfortable, calm and involved.
While this knowledge starts in pregnancy, as part of good birth preparation, these intentions can sometimes get lost when the contractions start and the reality of labour takes over. Ands plans can feel redundant if labour is tougher or more complicated than expected.
Good birth preparation is knowing about your ideal labour and birth – and how you can work towards that and what you can do. It is also about knowing more about all births so you are better prepared and equipped for decisions, options and being involved if your labour and birth changes.
Knowing more about straightforward birth also means you are then better prepared to manage inductions, epidurals and other interventions, to think about what you can do to help labour continue to be as straightforward as possible.
1. Using effective strategies
Remember the strategies you thought about, planned and used in pregnancy – using positions and movement, your relax & breathe techniques and going with your instincts and what feels right.
You can use these techniques when labour is flowing, and they are all just as important if you have interventions such as an induction or epidural.
It’s about thinking about the positions that are most comfortable/instinctive for you to help you move around and to rest. And this includes with an induction, on the bed with an epidural and moving upright if labour slows.
2. Know what can help your labour and birth to progress
As labour and birth is all about hormones, it can be all about what makes those hormones flow.
Labour loves a calm environment where everyone is calm, where women feel safe, supported and able, where oxytocin, cortisol and endorphins can work to move your baby, to open you body and to give you natural pain relief.
Labour and birth can be helped by breathing and movement so you are as calm and as comfortable as possible, so you can work with your contractions and do what feels right for you.
3. Know what could slow progress and affect your ability to manage
Where there is pressure, lack of support, the closing down of options, noise, lack of privacy and fear, labour and birth can slow or stop or contractions can be harder to deal with.
If you are experiencing these things in labour, you may need to be patient, you may need to say what you need and you may need to ask why if something is suggested and you are not sure what it is or why it is needed. Birth partners can need to advocate and you may need to gather information so you know what your options are.
4. Say what you need
Sometimes assertiveness is needed, putting yourself at the centre of your care so you can say what you are doing, what you need to do to feel safe, calm amd as comfortable as possible.
And you can change your mind about what pain relief you use – go with what feels right and what you need. I have supported labouring women who have find that the birthing pool isn’t for them after all, I have worked with women who have needed an epidural, even though they were determined not to have one and I have also worked with women who loved the birthing pool despite not liking the idea of one. Keep your options open.
5. Look after your basic needs
It is easy to overlook the basic things you will need in labour. Labour can last for many hours so it is important to:
- eat – maybe little and often. It can be helpful for food to be available so you can graze if you want to.
- drink water regularly – after each contraction can be useful to prevent you becoming dehydrated and to give you energy
- wee often – to be more comfortable and to give your baby all the room he needs.
6. Ask questions, gather knowledge
You might not need much information but ask questions when you need to know more, if you need reassurance.
7. Rely on your breathing
Your breathing is an essential way of staying calm and
8. Don’t assume
Try not to assume that you have to do things in a particular way. It is a common assumption that women have to be on the bed when they are induced – you don’t.
You may need to be on the bed with an epidural but it could still be possible to have gravity and to move around on the bed.
For birth preparation, to ask questions or to talk through any concerns, you can book a session with me. I also have digital antenatal course/birth workshop packages available.
Pregnancy & Birth Services