1) Stay calm and positive
Getting into a calm and positive mindset has PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS for labour. A calm mind means your muscles (including your uterus) will relax and work more efficiently and more comfortably. To build a positive mindset try listening to hypnobirthing MP3s, using positive birth affirmation cards and watching some positive birth videos…. and tell people to save bad birth stories until after your baby’s born!
2) Work with your birth hormones and let the oxytocin flow
Understanding birth hormones is KEY to understanding labour. Labour is driven by the hormone OXYTOCIN. Oxytocin is the hormone of love and anything that makes you go mmm, be it cuddles with a loved one or a cosy evening in with an apple crumble and a feelgood film. Oxytocin likes privacy, intimacy and calmness so make sure this is reflected in your birthing environment… and that your birth partner is on hand for hugs and encouragement. Put simply, when you feel good, you labour better.
3) Build your perfect nest
Getting your birthing ‘nest’ right helps keep your oxytocin levels high. Think of how other mammals like cats and dogs give birth – they usually tuck themselves away in dark, cosy, private spaces. Now, I’m not suggesting you labour into your bedroom wardrobe but wherever you’re giving birth make sure that it feels cosy, private and familiar. As a starting point, try dimming the lights, listening to some relaxing music / hypnobirthing MP3s and spritzing some lavender spray around the room.
4) Trust your body
Learning about the physiology of birth will help you build trust and confidence in your body. Women have been giving birth for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Learning about the physiology of birth helps your understand how your body works in labour, giving you the best chance of things going smoothly.
5) Embrace your inner cavewoman
When you go into established labour a different part of your brain kicks in and it’s much more PRIMITIVE. This explains why women in labour often stop talking and turn their attention inwards – it’s because their more modern ‘thinking brain’ is switching off and the primitive part is taking over. It also helps explain the groaning and infamous mooing noises that labouring women often make… and they’re a good thing as they mean the more primal part of the brain is taking over!
6) Make your birth a team effort
Get your partner involved. There’s so much they can do to help you labour and no medical training or stethoscope required. Planning logistics is just the start of their role. With a bit of guidance, they can be your greatest advocate – by your side, and on your side.
7) Do your research
What kind of birth would you like? Home, birth centre or hospital birth? What kind of pain relief might you be open (or not) to? Who’ll cut baby’s cord (and more importantly – when will they cut baby’s cord?). Get informed about ALL of your birth options so you’re clear on your preferences.
8) Birth like a boss
Everything that happens to your in pregnancy, labour and birth is ENTIRELY UP TO YOU. It’s your body and your baby and therefore you have the ultimate say on what happens. Full stop. So, if any interventions or treatments are suggested to you (be they small such as a sweep or larger such as an induction), ask lots of questions to make sure they’re the best thing for your unique circumstances.
9) As well as birth preferences A, make a plan B and C
As well as having your plan A, make sure you have some key points of things that are important for you for your plan B (usually an epidural or an induced or assisted birth) and plan C(aesarean). Clarifying a few key choices will help you be sure that however your birth pans out, you can know you had the best birth on the day.
No birth tips blog would be complete without a mention of breathing eh? Breathing techniques calm your mind, lower your heart rate and get lots of oxygen to your uterus muscles so they can work efficiently. Even a simple technique of breathing slowly in for 4 through your nose and then slowly out for 6 through can help you stay calm and focussed HOWEVER you birth your baby.