What do I mean by birth wellbeing? Well, it’s really easy to focus on contractions and to forget to think about what you might need to be physically and mentally well during labour and birth.
Labour and birth has it’s own pace, it can demand a lot from you and that is normal and to be expected. No-one knows what the pace of their labour will be before it starts so realistic preparation so you can look after you is important.
The thought of labour and birth can make expectant parents question things that they wouldn’t normally think about – can I eat, will I be allowed to move, what if I need the toilet? what if I don’t understand what’s happening? will I be allowed off the bed? So let’s run through the essentials of birth wellbeing so you feel less detached from your basic needs.
Ideas for your birth wellbeing…
Everyone’s labour and birth is different and you will have your own needs, which is why focusing on what you need is important for your wellbeing.
- eat – little and often and as you need to because you and your baby need fuel. Labour & birth can use the same amount of calories as running a marathon. Eat normally in early labour and top up in labour.
- drink – always have water with you, drink and sip regularly so you don’t become dehydrated.
- breathe – focus on your breathing so it stays calm and stable. It’s really easy for your breathing to become shallow and rapid if you are a bit overwhelmed or anxious and it’s also common for women to hold their breathe in labour. Let’s keep the oxygen flowing.
- move – go with what feels right so wander, sit, kneel, lean, stand, rock, sway and step as you need to to rest, feel comfortable and to work with contractions.
- wee – try to empty your bladder regularly, at least every hour. It’s really easy to forget to go when you are busy working with contractions but a full bladder can make you uncomfortable, it can slow labour and it can move your baby into an unhelpful position.
- relax – labour works best when there’s no tension so it’s important to be able to relax your muscles. Relax your jaw, your shoulders, your hands and your pelvic floor, calm any fidgety movements and slow your breathing.
- accept your contractions – you need them so it’s not helpful to battle with them. Work with them and if they are too challenging, look at your options for pain management. If you are greeting each one with a tense, closed body and maybe holding your breathe, feeling scared – see if working with them feels better. It has to be worth a try.
- rest – this can be overlooked as well because there can be a lot of focus on being active and having gravity. Listen to what your body needs – move and be upright with contractions but flop, rest and conserve energy in-between contractions.
- what do you need? quieter room, dimmed lights, to connect with someone, words of reassurance and encouragement
- how are you feeling? if you are anxious, worried, panicky or just can’t settle something needs to change – firstly slow your breathing to take control of feeling overwhelmed and then try to say what you need. Information, reassurance and encouragement can make all the difference, along with being listened to. Talk to your partner, doula and midwife about your pain relief options if you feel like you are struggling and feeling distressed.
- put yourself at the centre of your care – you don’t have to wait for permission to do anything so move as you need to, eat, drink, go to the loo, change the room around. It’s also okay if your birth is different than expected and you need to make different decisions around pain relief.
- gather information – so you know more about your options and what is available for you such as using a birth pool or is there a bath/shower as an alternative. As the contractions intensify you may not want to communicate so birth partners need to take over asking questions.
To enhance your birth preparation, you can complete my antenatal course, a birth workshop and book consultations with me. My job is to build you up, to give you the space to talk, discuss and ask questions so you have more knowledge and confidence for your labour and birth.
You can just message me below with any questions or queries.
My face-to-face sessions are ideal for parents across Newcastle & Tyneside. With video sessions and digital courses, I also work with parents and families from across the UK as well as internationally.
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Copyright: Janine Smith 2022