10 ways to help yourself to an easier birth

The prospect of giving birth can be daunting whether you are having your  first or your fourth baby.  Here  are some key things  you can do to help yourself cope with labour, reduce complications and even shorten your labour.

   1. Exercise
Exercise during pregnancy can help you cope with the physical and mental demands of labour and giving birth. Walking, swimming, aquanatal classes and pregnancy yoga are all safe for pregnancy as long as you don’t overdue things.  Pregnancy is not the time to start a vigorous new routine.

   2. Position yourself in pregnancy
The pelvis is oval shaped and in order for the baby’s head to fit in the pelvis it should naturally enter looking to the side and then turn to face the mother’s back during labour.

Some babies can settle into a position facing to the front or ’back to back’ position. In this position labour can take longer because the baby has to turn to fit in the pelvis and turn further to a face-front position. You can also experience a lot of backache when this is the case.

You can help to reduce this happening by adopting an upright position as much as possible when sitting. In the last few weeks of pregnancy sit on a birthing ball. Make sure your hips are higher than your knees. Alternatively, sit on a dining chair the wrong way. If you sit on the settee, use lots of cushions in your back to keep you upright or lie on your side.

Try not to slouch backwards. During labour, sit on a birthing ball and do some gentle bouncing and rotating of the hips to encourage your contractions and good positioning of the baby. If you do find that your baby is still ‘back to back’ during labour it can help to get onto your hands and knees on the floor, using a ball or leaning forward on furniture or a bed. Get your partner to massage your back if it is painful.

3. Massage your perineum

If you are worried about tearing during birth then the good news is that there is something you can do to help yourself. There is research evidence that shows that perineal massage in pregnancy can help reduce tears and improve healing when tears do occur. You can use olive oil or you can buy perineal massage oil.

How to do Perineal Massage

4.  Eat and drink

Your body needs fuel to function. As soon as you start having contractions make sure that you eat and continue to snack during your labour unless you have been told otherwise by your midwife or doctor. Pack some sweet biscuits and jelly babies in your hospital bag. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

5.  Be open-minded

Try not to have a rigid birth plan. Its not possible to plan a birth but you can think about your preferences, things you would like to happen during your labour and birth. You can write these down and tell the midwife. Preferences I see often are ‘I would like my partner to cut the cord’ or ‘I would like to avoid an epidural if possible’.

What Should I Write In My Birth Plan?

6. Be informed

Get as much information as you can through reading and antenatal classes. If you’ve got the information you will be able to make decisions as you go and at any stage your midwife will be able to help you.

7.  Relax

During labour the hormone Oxytocin is in charge. Oxytocin stimulates  contractions. When you are feeling anxious or frightened another hormone Adrenaline is produced by the body and stops Oxytocin working as well and labour can slow down.  Knowing what to expect will reduce anxieties and using effective breathing can help to keep you calm.  That’s where antenatal classes can help. Consider hypnobirthing for deep relaxation. You can attend classes with a hypnobirthing practitioner or buy a CD  or even use an online course.

8. Have support from a birth partner

Having a great birth partner can make all the difference to a woman’s experience in labour. Go through your wishes with your partner in advance and agree how you want him/her to help you. Pack the bags together so that anything you need can be found easily.

Top tips for Fathers/Birthing partners

9. Stay Active

Keep active for as long as possible.  We always encourage women to be upright and mobile. You can walk around in labour in between contractions or you can be mobile on a birthing ball by rotating your hips and gently bouncing. Keeping active during labour encourages the baby’s head to move down the pelvis and get into the best position and can help to shorten your labour.

10. Use pain relief if you need to

Labour is painful for most women to some degree. You don’t need to make decisions about pain relief in advance. Learn as much as you can  and you will be able to make decisions as you go with help from your midwife if needed.

NHS Choices. What pain relief will be available? 

For details about BirthPrep antenatal classes click here.

copyright © 2016 BirthPrep

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This entry was posted in Labour and Birth.

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