There’s a lot of advice out there about how to cope with being labour and if you’re approaching this time you could be feeling a little overwhelmed or anxious. Books or websites can provide an explanation of what is happening to your body physically but the guidance for how to actually survive the experience can seem quite matter of fact or, often I found, wildly optimistic. We collected some tips from women who have recently given birth and can still remember the experience and what helped them to cope.
Think of sustenance
It’s important to keep your energy levels going with some healthy snacks… or sweets.
Marshmallows, my husband fed me marshmallows. And the toast and tea right after was the greatest meal I have ever eaten!!!” Kit.
“Fruit pastilles! Lucozade sport” Ailsa
Movement really is a good way to help you cope with the pain of labour and to help things progress. “Rocking, swaying, walking anything just keep moving for as long as possible” Hayley.
General fitness during pregnancy can also make a big difference and you might want to practise some techniques that you’ll be able to use during labour. “Yoga yoga yoga & an active birth workshop to learn different techniques! A squeeze of the hips when your contractions come” Vikki.
The whole labour thing or the idea of it is quite stressful and we’re always told how beneficial it is to remain calm. That can be easier said than done, especially if you start to be anxious about the fact you’re anxious rather than chilled about being chilled! A lot of people recommend hypnobirthing as well as using your own coping mechanisms for avoiding panic. “Honestly as crazy as it sounds and as hard as it might be but relax and focus in what your doing, Not on what's about to happen.” Christelle.
“TENS, relaxing music through headphones, pretend candles, and a fake fire crackling on the laptop. Also, I gave birth next to the Christmas tree which added that extra bit of oxytocin.” Becky
Keep an open mind
Its helpful to have a birth plan if you’re happy to write one but equally remember that it contains ideas of what you think your preferences are rather than a schedule of events as they will really happen. “Just know it most likely won’t go to plan and have comfort in the expected unexpected.” Rachel.
Find your own trick
A lot of people have their own certain thing that they did to keep them going through contractions. It can help distract you or make you feel a little bit more in control of how you’re experiencing the birth. “I sang nursery rhymes through contractions to try and work out how far dilated I was. If I could still sing I didn't need to go to the hospital.” Natalie
“Breathe!!! In for 4 and out for 8. Provides muscles with the oxygen needed to get through labour and thus reducing pain.” Nicole
Remember you’re in safe hands
We heard a lot of praise for midwives. They really know what they’re doing, not just medically but in terms of helping the woman and birth partner to feel calm and secure. “Trust your Midwife! They're miracle workers!” Kathryn.
“Listen to the midwife, if she says stop pushing then stop, she's the one who can see your perineum and is trying to keep it intact if possible!” Natalie.
When things seem not to be going to plan your midwife has your best interests and that of your baby in mind so listen to what they have to say. “Midwives are saints, listen to them. I didn't want the birth I ended up having but with reflection, the midwife was incredible and gave me all the beat advice and guidance.” Kit.