Labour is a fitting word for giving birth; it can be hard work. There is the physical exercise of delivery. There is also lots of preparation to do before labour starts, particularly as you enter the third trimester. The good news is that investing a bit of time arranging your labour will help ensure it is an easier and less stressful process.
It is a super exciting period of your pregnancy as the due date gets closer. Follow these top tips, spend some time getting everything sorted, and you’ll be ready and relaxed when the big day comes.
1) Support for Labour
Being pregnant is a unique and exciting experience. However, like any new adventure there will be the odd day when you feel a bit wobbly or have a question.
The first step during your pregnancy is to set up support systems that are there when you need them but also give you a community to enjoy your pregnancy and share the excitement as labour approaches. This group will be made up of different types of people: your professional maternity team, other parents-to-be you might meet at pregnancy groups, family and friends who are parents or who are just keen and excited about being a nominated ‘auntie’. The huge popularity of online forums and social media related to pregnancy shows how many women find internet communities a good resource too.
2) Exercise in Pregnancy
Lots of people recommend pregnancy yoga as a brilliant prenatal exercise because it helps with breathing and loosening your pelvis. It is certainly a good choice but whatever you feel comfortable with and works for you will be likely to help.
It is widely acknowledged that upright positions can help shorten and make labour easier. If your exercise of choice encourages controlled breath, loosens your body when you feel tense, and gives you the stamina to stand during labour then stick with it.
3) Research Products
Babies grow so quickly that if you aren’t prepared you may only realise there was a product for your needs when it is too late. There is a lot on the market and you don’t need everything but there are ways to refine your search. Talk to friends with children about what worked for them (and you might even get some free second-hand bits and pieces!). Think about whether you or your partner has any specific requirements. For example, a bad back may cause problems lifting or carrying your baby. Also think about your specific circumstances. If you are having a caesarean you may not want to bend over much or if you are having twins you might struggle to move them both easily. Using a baby lifting hammock can make life so much easier and help with the ongoing effects of pregnancy back pain.
When you know exactly what you need it will be much easier to judge what to buy before you give birth.
There is nothing like confusion to increase stress-levels. The last thing you want as you go into labour is to be worrying about how your partner is going to get there or who will tell your friend.
Whether you want a private birth or all your friends and family present chat through different scenarios and arrange an easy notification system that takes the pressure off you. If you are giving birth in hospital discuss what will happen if your partner isn’t with you when labour starts.
This is important for your partner too as they will want to support you as much as possible. It also increases the chances of ensuring everyone who should be at the birth is there on time and able to share in this amazing moment with you
5) Relaxation During Pregnancy and Labour
Easier said than done when you are preparing to push a child out of your tummy! However, making sure you get lots of sleep could make a big difference. This might involve making changes such as getting body pillows or sleeping separately to your partner.
It may sound silly that you can practise relaxing but it’s true. Spend some time identifying what makes you feel stressed and what helps you relax. It may be you also feel negative or nervous about certain elements of giving birth and a chat with any professional support or friends could take away that worry.
A regular routine of pelvic exercises or attending prenatal classes often means you will feel ready and prepared when labour comes. Different activities at prenatal classes and even just talking to women who already have children will mean you are mentally processing and preparing to give birth. When labour starts you are far more likely to feel ready. Well, as ready as you can be!
6) Stay Positive
Similarly, staying positive and making sure you deal with any feelings of pressure or worry before labour starts is time well-spent. Some people find practising visualisation during pregnancy helpful for dealing with the pain during labour. Sometimes it is enough to focus on the reason for your labour – to welcome a child into the world!
Check that everyone around you is really positive and supportive. It sounds selfish, but if there is someone who is very pessimistic or quite negative about the experience then you might not want them around during labour. There are lots of other ways friends and families can support you without being in the delivery room. If you assess everyone’s attitude early on you can subtly ensure you are only surrounded by positive people who will get you through giving birth.
7) Know Your Options
Where Do I Have My Baby?……… Labour Pain Relief
It may seem like a difficult task while trying to stay positive and relaxed but it is a good idea to get familiar with different potential scenarios. Learn a bit about interventions such as forceps of episiotomy in case it becomes necessary. You might have also made certain decisions about pain management. Particularly if you are doing it without pain relief think about whether you would accept drugs under certain circumstances. It might be quite hard to think about things going wrong but it means you can make these very important decisions in an unpressured and safe environment.
Make sure you discuss your decisions with your partner and any support workers. It is also a good idea to record any choices in your birth plan.
8) Delivery Room
When you have finished making the hard decisions described above then you can switch back to a positive outlook and plan the delivery environment. You might want certain lighting, music or aromas and you have total say! Now is also a good time to think about whether, if possible, you want to get someone specific to cut the umbilical cord.
Have a chat with your partner about how they can help too. A lot of women report that holding hands or having their head stroked by their partner helps them relax. When tension leaves the body labour can progress. You might even like to sign up for a prenatal massage class.
For some people being quiet with just your partner or close family can really help. For others, having lots of friends and family around and getting everyone involved is the best option. Make sure you know what works for you and stick to it.
9) Ready for Labour
As the due date approaches, be sure to have some nice snacks around the house as you are likely to spend the first part of your labour at home. If possible, you want to use the time at home to relax and focus so you are mentally prepared for when you enter hospital. Panicking will just make you tired and the labour harder. Have your hospital bag ready to go and a solid plan in place to contact all the relevant people. Unlike the movies you are unlikely to have to rush straight to hospital so use the time to start doing any meditative or relaxing exercises you have prepared. Above all, be excited; it’s time!