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Mother and Baby

Prepare For Birth: 12 Simple Labour Tips To Try Today

Getting ready for your baby’s arrival is one of the most thrilling times of your life. But, as well as organising the nursery and stocking up on nappies, getting your body and mind ready for birth should also be on your to-do list. It may feel out of your hands, but actually taking simple steps lile these can make the whole process of labour far more bearable...
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Make time for massage during pregnancy

Research shows pregnant women who have regular massages experience less anxiety, reduced back pain and improved sleep, plus it’s been linked to fewer complications during labour. Massage is good for easing fluid retention, too. ‘Lymphatic massage is particularly helpful,’ says Julie Long, founder of Lazy Daisy birthing classes. ‘If your fingers swell a lot during pregnancy, it’s a sign tissues throughout your body are swollen – including the cervix – which could make delivery more difficult.’
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Try hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing can help you achieve the right frame of mind for birth. ‘Hypnosis puts you into a relaxed state and can take away fears,’ says practitioner Katharine Graves. ‘Relaxation also encourages the production of your body’s natural painkillers.’ To see results, it’s best to start practicing hypnobirthing {LINK} techniques in the last few months of pregnancy.
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Beat anxiety

Positive affirmations are a powerful tool that you can use throughout pregnancy and birth. If you feel anxious about labour, write down the dialogue that’s running through your head. ‘For each worry, find a positive statement that will comfort you and write that down, too, such as, “Labour may hurt, but pain relief is always available”,’ says psychologist Mamta Saha. It reminds you there are solutions to every concern and you’ll feel calmer after facing up to what’s bothering you.’
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Massage your perineum

Massaging the perineal area between your vagina and anus in the weeks before birth can reduce your risk of tearing or episiotomy.
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Get in shape with a birthing ball

Rocking on a birthing ball can help get your body in shape for labour. The muscles at the top of your thighs, known as hip flexors, may become very tight during pregnancy, as the weight of your baby pulls you forward. ‘Rocking on your ball can help lengthen these muscles,’ says Mark Hibbitts, founder of Newborn Fitness. Remember, if you want to use a birthing ball during pregnancy, you should always buy the anti-burst variety.
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Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles

Your pelvic floor muscles stretch across your pelvis, and exercising them is important for preventing bladder problems after birth. As an added bonus, a toned pelvic floor will also help during labour. ‘Only by working these muscles do you learn how to relax them, which is important when you’re giving birth to your baby,’ says independent midwife Eleanor May-Johnson.
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Say yes to antenatal yoga

Antenatal yoga is a great way to improve suppleness and get the strength and flexibility you need to hold different birthing positions. ‘It’s also brilliant for getting you into a positive state of mind,’ says Kate. ‘This will help you overcome any worries you have and put you in control.’ It places a lot of emphasis on breathing techniques, which are very useful during labour to help you cope with the contractions and stay focused.
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When to drink raspberry tea in pregnancy

Certain foods and drinks can help you gear up for birth, too. ‘Raspberry leaf tea helps strengthen the uterus, thanks to its high concentrations of fragarine and flavonoids, which makes contractions more efficient,’ says Eleanor. The Royal College of Midwives advises drinking it during the final three weeks – one cup a day, gradually increasing to four. Don’t drink it before then.
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Avoid stress for the sake of your unborn baby

You’re working full time, struggling with pregnancy aches and not sure how much maternity leave you can afford to take. Yep, you’re feeling frazzled. But with one 2011 Australian study linking pregnancy stress with behavioural problems in children, keeping your cool should really be your number one priority right now.
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Fight for your rights for good maternity services

A 2003 study found that the more in control a woman felt of both herself and her surroundings during birth, the happier she was likely to feel about her experience. With this in mind, it’s worth being critical about your antenatal care, as well as learning as much as you can about what happens during delivery. Remember, you’re entitled to change hospitals if you’re not happy with the care you’ve received. Contact the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (aims.org.uk) for a list of your maternity rights.
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Ask for support from your partner

A 2011 Norwegian study involving nearly 50,000 mums-to-be revealed that pre-baby blues are most often caused by lack of support from a partner, with those women feeling unhappy with their relationships most likely to develop postnatal depression (PND). The answer? Talk to your partner and tell him you need him. ‘In pregnancy, you often regress to a childlike place because you feel vulnerable, so support from your partner is vital,’ says midwife counsellor Sue Frame. ‘Talk to him when you both have some quiet time – over dinner, in bed – and let him know any worries you have.’ By bottling things up you’re not being strong – you’re storing up potential problems for down the line.
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Be open minded about what kind of parent you will be

As you learn about pregnancy, labour and parenting, many mums-to-be can develop set ideas. For instance, wanting to have a natural birth, only using conventional medical remedies, or having a fixed view on feeding. However, labour in particular can be unpredictable so it’s best if you keep an open mind.
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