Tips to manage your contractions…
Stay upright and on the move
- The longer you stay active and upright, the quicker your labour is likely to progress
- You can listen to your body and move into positions which help to ease the pain and allow your pelvis to be open
Find a comfortable position to rest
- Balance being active with resting – listen to your body and rest when you need to
- Use your birthing ball or a chair to rest. If you want to lie down, try to lie on your left side
Try to relax
- Being relaxed prevents you and your womb becoming too tired
- It helps to conserve your energy
- It helps your baby to cope with labour. If you are relaxed you won’t flood your baby’s system with stress hormones which cause his heart rate to speed up
- You will feel calm and in greater control, especially if you need to make decisions
What helps you to relax?
Support from a birthing partner
- Being well supported in labour aids a positive birth experience for you and your baby. Less pain relief is often needed, the first stage of labour is likely to be shorter, and there is less chance of a ventouse/forceps delivery or a Caesarean.
- Birthing partners can give reassurance as well as cuddles and kisses to help you feel secure
- Even if you are accompanied by your partner, you may benefit from the continuous presence of another birthing partner. Where midwives provide continuous, one-to-one care they fulfill this function
Massage and touch
- This stimulates your body to release endorphins, which is your natural painkiller
- It can be helpful to massage the shoulders, especially if the birthing partner sees that they tense
- Some women feel their contractions in the lower back. A soft massage in early labour can be soothing and aid relaxation and by applying more pressure as the contractions increase in intensity to help relieve some of the pain.
Use your breathing
- When you are tense and frightened breathing becomes shallow and rapid. This can be exhausting and it reduces the oxygen for you and your baby.
- In labour, aim to keep your breathing rhythmical. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth
Simple breathing techniques
- Think of the word RELAX
- As you breathe in, think RE to yourself and as you breathe out, think LAX
- Don’t let your mind wander away from repeating RELAX in tune with your breathing
- When you breathe out, try to let go of any tension in your body
- Remember every time you breathe out think LAAAAX
- The out breath is the one to focus on, the in breath takes care of itself!
- As you breathe in, count slowly up to 3 or 4 (or whatever number is comfortable for you)
- And as your breathe out, count again
- You might find that it is comfortable to breathe in to a count of 3 and out to a count of 4
Support with your breathing
It can be hard to keep your breathing rhythmical and relaxed so support from birth partner can be essential. He or she can breathe with you, can use a breathing technique and maintain eye contact to help you focus on your breathing and your contractions
- MIDIRS – Support in labour
- Pregnancy and Birth by Janet Balaskas and Yehudi Gordon
- Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
a specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting