Labour & birth can be raw, unpredictable, powerful, beautiful, brilliant, emotional, raw, tough going, painful, exhausting and exhilarating. It can be quick, it can be long, it can be brilliant, it can be calm. It’s a huge event, there’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of conflicting information so good birth preparation is worth investing it, and you can only benefit from looking after yourself in pregnancy and preparing well.
Tip 1: Relax & Breathe
Focusing on your breathing can be a soothing activity – it can provide calm for you and your baby and it can help with the management of stress and anxiety. Practising and using your breathing can give you a boost, it can give you energy, it can help to clear your head.
Focusing on your breathing can provide you with a positive focus – in pregnancy and in labour – and it can also reduce adrenaline and cortisol and boost your endorphins. This means it can be great for discomfort and pain, for back ache, for headaches as well as for contractions.
By slowing your heart rate, knowing how to use your breathing can help with blood pressure and with any feelings of panic.
Staying calm and being able to use your breathing and relax your body is essential in labour and for birth – it means you have skills to stay calm, to work with your contractions, to manage any changes to your birth-plan and to be involved in any decisions.
Tips 2: Build Your Knowledge
You will benefit from preparing your head for labour & birth – educating yourself well, knowing your options, asking questions, building your knowledge of different options and knowing a range of coping strategies and skills.
Individualised care in good antenatal classes/birth preparation sessions enables you to think about what you might need and it helps you to develop realistic expectations for labour & birth.
It can be helpful to think about and write down your preferences, what you feel you might need to manage your contractions, to rest, to stay calm, to get all the support you need.
You will benefit from doing any birth preparation together with your birth partner so they are also gathering information and practical skills to be able to offer you effective support.
Tip 3: Quiet Time
Give yourself a chance to slow down, to have some quiet time during your pregnancy.
This can be about using your breathing and relaxing your body throughout the day and in the evening or just allowing yourself to stop doing and giving yourself the opportunity to rest and relax.
Having some quiet time can allow you to focus on needing to relax and let go of any tension, especially if you have a lot going on. I can give you the chance to recharge and refocus.
Focusing on using your breathing every day will benefit you and your baby – it can provide balance, more energy and calm, along with a sense of wellbeing which can only ever be a good thing.
Tip 4: Be Active
Exercise in pregnancy has brilliant benefits – it can provide muscle strength, tone, better sleep, more energy and wellbeing, it could also help to ease some of the aches and pains of pregnancy.
To be stronger and fitter is no bad thing – but you don’t need to take up marathon running, you will benefit from gentle exercise throughout your pregnancy which could be pilates, an exercise class, walks or swimming.
Tips 5: Accept Your Contractions
As part of your preparation for labour & birth, it is important to have a positive mindset about your contractions – to accept your contractions rather than just fear them and plan to battle with them.
Right from early labour they begin, they peak, they pass and you need them, they are bringing you your baby.
It can be helpful to plan how to work with them, to move, to breathe and manage them as you need to. Even if you are planning an epidural, you still need to reach established labour before this is an option so you may have hours of contractions to work with.
And there is no right length of labour – if you can breathe, rest and be guided by your body you are doing everything to be calm and to help your contractions to be an effective as possible. And the breaks in-between your contractions are all about physical and mental rest, recharging, refocusing and getting ready for the next contraction.
For more information about getting prepared, informed and reassured for the birth of your baby, get in touch.
a specialist in pregnancy, birth and parent support