I was twenty years of age when I gave birth to Milo, the only reading I did about labour was from the leaflets that the midwife gave me. I asked my mum about 100 times to explain all of her births to me so I could try to understand what happens. I know that every birth is different, but I just wanted some personal accounts of labour opposed to the monotonous leaflets that are given to us ladies. I loved all of the tips my mum and family members gave to me so I have composed a list of my top ten tips for labour. Of course, everyone is different so what worked for me may not work for you but hopefully it might spread some light on what really goes on during labour.
- Don’t rely greatly on that piece of paper your midwife made you write -‘birthing plan’. We all go into labour, wanting the most idyllic birth with no pain relief and no complications. Unfortunately there are occasions where you may need interventions that may not coincide with your birth plan. Stay flexible!
- Stay calm- I know this is easy to say but after giving birth twice now I can not emphasise how important this is. During my second labour I was even more calm than the first. Calm breathing is so important, it really does help you.
- Hot water bottle- a hot water bottle worked magic for my back labour so I would highly recommend this. With every contraction Miles/Mum pushed a hot water back on to my back that soothed each contraction a little. Do not leave it on there constantly otherwise you will not feel the effects when each contraction comes. I had two hot water bottles on rotation to ensure that the water was hot.
- Do not arrive at the hospital too early- you have all probably heard of stories when friends and family are sent home due to not being in established labour (3cm dilated). I was determined for this not to happen to me. I listened to the recommended time to go to the hospital which is when you have : three 60 second contractions within a ten minute time slot that continues for more than an hour. When I arrived with Milo I was 6cm dilated and when I arrived with Oscar I was 7cm.
- Do not be embarrassed- before giving birth to Oscar I told my birthing partners that during the labour I did not want any medical staff to talk to me unless it was an emergency. Some of my family thought this was rather funny. Nevertheless, it worked for me and I would definitely do it again. It allowed me to feel disconnected from the medical side of giving birth and gave me the opportunity to remember how beautiful birth is.
- Stay at home for as long possible- let’s face it hospitals are not the most comfortable places. You will be far more comfortable at home, with all of your surroundings.
- Listen to your body- I was examined at the hospital at 9am and was told I was 7cm dilated. I was taken to a labour suite and by 10am I wanted to push. The midwife told Miles and Mum I was not allowed to push as I was only just examined at 7cm dilated . I knew that somehow I was suddenly fully dilated (10cm) or there was a mistake because I needed to push and Oscar was born 51 minutes later.
- Bring supplies- when you pack your hospital bags. Do not just think about clothes and maternity pads. You do not know how long you will be in hospital and if you are anything like me, you will not want to eat the hospital food. It is also good for your birthing partners as they use a lot of energy helping you. I would highly recommend bringing drinks with straws as they are much easier to drink. Also, pack lip balm as your lips get incredibly dry!
- I know going into labour is the most exciting thing for yourself, your friends and family but no one knows how long each labour will take. This is way I decided to only tell my closest friends that I had gone into labour with Oscar. With Milo, I told my Mum and she told everyone I was in labour and my messages (bbm) was pinging off! “Have you had him yet?” “How is it going?” “He might be in the newspaper” (Milo was born early hours on NYD).
- If you have children already, have childcare arranged beforehand. I had a few family members and friends whom were on call towards the end of my pregnancy. I arranged a few people, in case someone was ill or unavailable.
More importantly, I know labour is very demanding on your body but it is the most amazing experience we get to go through. I am so lucky that I was born a woman as I do genuinely love the thought of giving birth and I can not wait to do it again (hopefully).
Has anyone got any personal labour tips they would like to share?