We all know that childbirth is unique to every woman – it can be easy and straightforward but it can also be unpredictable, challenging and complicated. So how can you prepare for birth?
Here’s what can make a big difference in any labour…
Prepare well – go to some good antenatal classes and do your research, not all antenatal classes and teachers are the same. Look for an experienced antenatal teacher who aims to inform, empower and provide good practical skills, along with preparation for the realities of giving birth.
Birth requires you to dig deep, to work hard – don’t wing it or leave it to chance.
Listen to your body – let it move, rock, rest, sway as it needs to. Your body will help move your baby into a good position for birth and it will help you feel as comfortable as possible.
Do what feels right – you need to feel safe and comfortable in labour, listen to your instincts and to that little voice in your head to guide you.
Communicate – speak, shout, insist on getting whatever you need to feel comfortable, safe, informed and reassured
Breathe – use your breathing, slow your breathing to help you stay calm and in control. When you are tired and dealing with uncertainty and pain, panic is never far away – you need to be able to use your breathing to head off that panic.
Use your breathing if your labour becomes complicated or scary – use it to ground yourself so you can stay as calm as possible and so you can gain information and be involved in decisions if you need to be.
Drink – plenty of water, sip a sports drink for energy, nibble on some food for energy, go to the loo regularly.
Let go of any fear – talk to your midwife and/or your doula. Storing fear creates tension and it can slow your labour. Let it go as much as you can and take labour step by step.
Be flexible – believe that you will birth your baby – and this might need to be with more drugs and interventions than you had planned but you will do it. You may need to let go of the plan is in your head.
Try to take your labour one step – and one contraction – at a time. This can be a great way to stay in control and to stop any panic.
Hire a doula – A birth doula really can make a difference to your labour. With ongoing support from a doula you can feel safe and supported, better able to trust your instincts and to make decisions. She can be with you both from early labour when it is too soon to be booked into hospital and she is a continual presence if you have a change of midwife.
By Janine Rudin,
mum of three plus antenatal teacher and doula at Birth & Baby