From the best positions for a shorter and easier labour to pain-relieving breathing techniques, there are numerous things you can do to help guide your mind and body through labour and birth – and prevent your fears from taking over
You’ve been approaching this from the moment you found out you were pregnant, but the idea of being in labour and giving birth can still be pretty overwhelming.
Fortunately there are steps you can take to feel calmer, prepared and more in control.
Practise your moves
Kneeling on all fours with your face buried in a beanbag might not sound like the most dignified way to get through those contractions, but it could make your experience a whole lot more comfortable.
There are a whole range of birth positions that can help make your labour both shorter and easier. Several of the moves involve your partner, so print off the sheet and spend an evening practising – it’s guaranteed to have you in fits of giggles if nothing else.
Plan your ambience
If you are planning to have your baby in a birthing suite, or at home, think about the kind of atmosphere you’d like to give birth in. Make a playlist of relaxing music, buy some scented candles and work out if you can have low-level lighting.
This is also relevant if you are planning to give birth on a maternity ward but will be spending the early part of your labour at home.
Take a prenatal yoga class
Prenatal yoga will help prepare your body and mind for labour, as well as teach you valuable breathing techniques that can help ease the pain of contractions. By spending time focusing on your body and learning to understand what is happening to it, you will feel more in control of what happens during labour.
Do your homework
Burying your head in the sand can feel like the easy answer when everything you know about childbirth is based on One Born Every Minute and the horror stories of friends.
But arming yourself with the facts about childbirth and what is about to happen to your body can be incredibly empowering and help you to regain some control over the situation. It is, after all, your body, and your baby.
Confront your fears
Write down a list of the fears you have around giving birth and tackle each one, one at a time. You may find that this puts things in perspective and helps you from feeling overwhelmed.
Repeating positive affirmations relating to your birth (eg. “I birth my baby with calm confidence”), while you're pregnant, then continuing the practice during labour, could help make for a more positive experience.
Kirsty Gallacher runs a Birth Preparation Course at Yogahome, which combines Hypnobirthing and yoga techniques. ‘Find something that really speaks to you, really matters, make it short, positive and repeat with the same wording, again and again – then use it during labour,’ she says.
Think about your baby
When you’re busy worrying about pain, contractions, interventions, tearing and stitches, it can be all too easy to forget why you are going to put yourself through all this.
While it’s good to remain in the moment and focus on your breathing, it is also good to remember what a wonderful life-changing experience is about to happen. When you think you can’t go on any longer, just remember that you are just about to meet your baby for the first time. It is all worth it.