5 Ways to Prepare for Labour
Whether you are a first time mum or about to welcome another little one to your brood, there are so many ways you can prepare your mind and body for birth. We're launching a new series of pieces written by midwife Aliza Carr from Bump n Bub. For the first piece she is revealing the ways you can prepare for labour.
Hi Beautiful Mama!
Today I want to share 5 tips with you on preparing yourself (your whole self) for labour and birth. As a midwife and perinatal mental health specialist, I understand that for many women, labour and birth can bring on feelings of anxiety and stress. Here are 5 helpful tips for any women preparing for birth (or please share if you know any mama’s to be).
Prepare your MIND
We know that mental health is just as important as physical health. Meditation and mindfulness can really build you mental strength. Growing up, the extent of our exposure to birth was mostly through dramatic American movies, where a woman’s labour seems to be very quick, or horror stories from other women.
Something I often repeat to my patients: Never in your life has your body experienced ‘positive pain’. By that I mean when we experience pain, our body identifies something as being wrong and dangerous, however with birth it is quite the opposite. When we feel these intense strong surges / contractions, our body is in a primal place of absolute wellbeing. For likely the first time, this pain or intense feeling is a POSITIVE. Something we must train the mind for in pregnancy, so that at birth we can reiterate what we already know - you are okay, you are not in danger, your body is doing exactly what it is meant to do. You can do it!
Prepare your BODY
It’s so easy during pregnancy to think “well I am going to put on weight anyway, so I may as well eat for two and try and rest as much as possible.'' If you and your baby are well, I would strongly recommend reading and educating yourself about the short and long term benefits of YOUR health for both you and bub. We also know from research that your health in pregnancy affects your labour, birth and recovery. If you can, try to exercise for 30 minutes each day for your physical wellbeing and mental health. Remember mama, labour often requires strength and stamina!
Prepare WITH your birth PARTNER
A supportive birth partner is a critical component to your labour and birth experience. This is important not just for you, but for them as well. Partners can tend to feel a bit helpless in birth, the more educated they are on how to assist you in birth, the better supported you will be and the better they will feel.
Research says that having a trusted, supportive birth partner improves the following; birth satisfaction rate, higher rates of going into labour naturally, higher rates of normal delivery, lower rates of needing analgesia, shorter labours, less likely to have a c-section or instrumental delivery as well as better outcomes for the baby (assessed by APGAR score after birth). For more on this research, click here.
Write out a BIRTH PLAN
The benefits of writing a birth plan isn't actually about mapping out your exact birth (this can never be predicted, so I don’t even like the words ‘birth plan’). Rather it is the process of educating yourself around what you want if you need to choose. Having your birth partner involved in this process is so important, so that if needed, they become an advocate for your choices. For example, taking the time to educate yourself on what happens when you go into birth and labour and the choices you need to make may include: when to attend hospital, how to know if your waters have broken, when the health professional recommends that baby has a vitamin K shot immediately after delivery, do you know what this is? The best thing I believe couples can do is to attend antenatal classes and educate themselves as much as possible through reading, films, talking to other couples etc. #empoweryourself
SHARE your fears!
Share your fears ladies! I urge you to talk about your feelings and thoughts. Talk to family, friends, your partner, midwife etc. Just sharing your thoughts and talking them out is known to reduce anxiety.