Mother and Baby

7 Things Your Midwife Wishes You Knew About Birth

Section: Labour & Birth

Whether you’re about to pop or just discovered you’re pregnant, take note of the birth secrets that your midwife is desperate for you to know about

1. Home is your happiest labour space

When you feel those first pangs of labour (yep, this time it’s not Braxton Hicks), it’s tempting to rush straight to hospital. But your midwife will encourage you to stay away for as long as possible. ‘Women who labour at home are generally more relaxed,’ says midwife Janet Blair from ‘Get your home labour kit ready – some bath oil, some paracetamol, your favourite DVD boxset and a TENS machine, so you feel happy while you wait.’

2. Your birth plan isn’t set in stone

When labour starts, remember to be flexible about how you expect birth to pan out. ‘Your birth plan is an “I’m aware” list, rather than an “I want” list,’ says Janet. ‘It shows that you know what’s available to you in terms of pain relief or birth locations, but you also recognise that, as every labour is different, you also need to allow for some flexibility.’ Birth plans are also useful for opening up communication with your birth partner so he or she can provide support.

Your birth plan is an “I’m aware” list, rather than an “I want” list

3. Dads can get in the birth pool, too

Get your partner to pack his swimming trunks because he can jump in the birth pool with you if you want. ‘If your partner is with you, he can help get you into different positions, massage your back more easily and be closer than if he’s hanging over the edge of the pool,’ says Janet.

5. Your birth ball is your best friend

No, they’re not just for posing on when you’re at the gym. An inflatable birth ball is also an extremely useful tool for labour. ‘They help you to stay upright during labour and encourage you to sit in a position that opens up your pelvis to help your baby’s head move down,’ says Janet. ‘Plus, sitting on one gives your birth partner access to your back so he can massage the area.’

4. Think (and eat) like a long-distance runner

While you’re no Paula Radcliffe, when it comes to giving birth, it’s a marathon, not a race. ‘It’s important to keep snacking during labour to give you constant energy – especially for the final pushing stage,’ says Janet. ‘In marathons, runners snack on small lumps of chocolate, Lucozade sweets or gel and non-fizzy energy drinks or water.’ Do the same, and you’ll keep your energy levels up – and those of your birth partner, too.

6. The labour slow dance is a great position

Many women feel like they need to lie down once they’re in established labour, but, says Janet, that’s the worse thing you can do. ‘It may seem obvious, but you need to stay mobile and upright during labour for as long as possible as it helps your baby move down into the right position in the birth canal.’

"It’s important to keep snacking during labour"

If you’re feeling too tired to stand up, try leaning against your partner in a hugging position like you’re slow dancing. ‘And if you do feel you need to lie down, rest on your left side, rather than flat on your back, so that you’re not squashing blood vessels that lead to your placenta,’ says Janet.

7. Skin-to-skin will help with bonding

Once your baby is born, make sure he’s placed on your chest for skin-to-skin contact. ‘It’s fantastic for bonding as the eye contact and sound of your voice will immediately calm you baby, plus it helps latching on and breastfeeding,’ says Janet. ‘If you end up having a Caesarean section, you can still ask for skin-to-skin while you’re still in theatre and when you’re being wheeled back to the maternity ward.’

What are your top tips for birth? Let us know in the box below.

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