Tips to help your labour
Before you read this, please remember, I have been lucky enough to have straight forward births. I don’t want to come across ‘preachy’ This is what works for me and I wish, when I was pregnant with the twins, someone had told me a good birth story rather than all the ‘Labour is the worst thing ever tales’ ‘ don’t envy you ‘ ‘ just take a much pain relief as you can ‘ It goes without saying if you need pain relief, take it, don’t be a martyr. But equally there are ways of coping without it that no one tells you about. Two tips I wish someone had told me are these …. Firstly, usually, when the pain gets bad, so bad you don’t think you can carry on, you will be nearly ready to push…. You are moments away from meeting your baby so don’t panic, you are nearly there! And two…. Never, let anyone force you to stay in a laying down position unless medically necessary. I was basically strapped to the hospital bed with the twins as I was classed as ‘ high risk ‘ and because they were my first babies I did exactly what I was told! Ten years later, I don’t think they encourage laying down as much anymore. It is an unnatural position to birth in (imagine trying to poo standing on your head). It will make the contractions more painful (alot more painful!) and the labour last longer. Follow your bodies Instinct, walk around, dance, rock, bend over but try to avoid laying down. I think this is why I was determined to take control of my next birth and opted to have it at home. I ended up giving birth to Charlie on my hands and knees because it just felt right at the time. I have a few rituals to get me through labour and make it as easy as possible. Everyone who knows me will know I’m not exactly a hippie but when it comes to labour I have a very free spirit attitude. Your baby has to come out one way or another so try to stay positive, as scary as it is, and as daunting as it can be, try to embrace it. Maybe try some of these…..
Bath – A hot (but not too hot) bath is great during labour. I tend to run a bath for every ailment I have, whether its a cold, period pains, stress, back ache or a headache. Add a few drops of your essential oils, concentrate on your breathing and prepare for what’s coming.
Raspberry Leaf Tea – I love this!!! Well…. I think I love it! I can drink it all day, everyday towards the end of my pregnancies, but once I am baby free, it gets chucked to the back of my cupboard never to been seen again….. Until the next pregnancy. I wonder if it is a mental thing? Something I associate with the end of a pregnancy perhaps? Soothing? Anyway… It’s purpose is to strengthen and tone the muscles around your uterus and help with a steady, progressive labour. I have drank it in every pregnancy from about 32 weeks. Because I have drank it everytime I couldn’t tell you if it has helped towards quick labours or not, but I have always been blessed with shorter labours and very quick transition stages. I dilate from 4-5 cm to 10cm and start pushing in under half an hour. Maybe the raspberry leaf tea contributes to this, maybe it doesn’t but give it a go anyway! You can buy it online or from Holland and Barrett. Make sure you start drinking it early (but not before 32 weeks).
– Clary sage oil I love essential oils and find them really helpful throughout pregnancy. Clary Sage helps with pain and stress relief and smells gorgeous. During the early stages of labour I put a few drops into my bath and soak for a while. I also put a couple of drops onto a wet flannel to use as the contractions get stronger. I know some women add a couple of drops to a carrier oil and let there partner massage them with it. This would never work for me because if Mike tried to massage me during labour I would be likely to smash him in the face! I sometimes I add a couple of drops of frankincense too, it is a calming essential oil and I find it works great with clary sage for me. It is important to know that you should not use Clary Sage during your pregnancy as it can bring on contractions.
Tens machine– Tens machines seem to be like marmite, some girls love it and some hate it. It is honestly a huge part of my pain relief during labour. I can’t tell you that it completely takes the pain away but it certainly dulls it and gives me something to focus on. It works by placing some sticky pads to your back which are attached to a small hand held machine by long wires. Small electrical pulses are sent through the machine to the patches and block the feeling of pain going to your brain. It also helps stimulate natural endorphins (pain relief) in your body. You feel a vibrating sensation on your back and you can control how strong the electrical pulse is through your machine. When your contractions first start you strap it on and just need to use a low pulse. Then, as your labour and contractions progress you will push for higher and higher pulses. Once it feels like it isn’t helping that’s when I jump in the birthing pool and am usually not far from pushing.
Birthing ball– Not only are birthing balls great to help back pain during pregnancy it is great for labour. During the early – middle of labour I sit on it and rock gently backwards and forwards, rotating my hips, it really helps with pain and labour ‘fidgets’ i can’t sit still!
Good movie / box set – There is no point racing to the hospital as soon as your first Contraction is felt. Quite often it can be false labour but even if it is the real thing it can take quite a while. I find it much better for pain relief and comfort to spend as much of my labour at home as possible. Once I know it’s the real thing I put on a good movie and try to relax. During Charlies labour I watched Date Night, during Libbys I put on The Sweetest Thing and with George I was watching Louis Theroux documentries!
Candles – All girls love candles, I don’t really need to say more. It’s about creating a calming atmosphere. Dim lights, flickering candles all helps with calming and clearing your mind. Again, you could add some oils to an oil burner to perfume the air with some clary sage, lavender, ginger or frankincense.
Music – Having music on in the background as delivery time approaches can be uplifting, encouraging and inspiring.
Birthing Pool – During my first two labours I point blank refused to use a birthing pool. The thought of sitting in a pool of your own blood and bodily fluids totally grossed me out. I only used one with Libby out of pure curiosity. I had done the hospital birth, I had done the homebirth so now I wanted to try out a waterbirth! I bought an Ecopool online, the whole lot was about £110 and it was so easy to use. I would always insist on a waterbirth now, the difference in pain at transition (pushing) is massive. There is also something really special about holding your baby for the first time in a relaxing pool of warm water (plus it cleans them… Bonus!) It also allowed me to be in a position with Libby and George where I felt more in control of delivering them, reaching down when they come out and pulling them to you rather than baby being handed to you by your midwife. It is really important for me to say, after telling you all this, do what is right for you. If you need a c-section for whatever reason or you have an epidural then that’s the way for you, if I can’t handle things with my next birth I will have no problem calling for an epidural! The main thing is for baby to come into the world as stress free and healthy as possible and for mum to be the same. Do you have any tips for pain/stress relief during labour? Now I’ve wrote this all down let’s hope that baby number six, due in April, comes as smoothly as possible. Wish me luck xxx