Earlier this week I shared the story of my 17-hour drug free labor. Today I want to share with you some of the practical tools that made it possible.
Every woman’s body is different and so is every woman’s labor. And for this reason, it’s almost impossible to predict beforehand how long or short labor will be and how intense or how comfortable it will feel. What can help you cope with the uncertainty of labor is to have the right tools and techniques in your labor tool kit. Just like anything in life, preparation and knowledge is key when it comes to facing the unknown.
After having worked with many couples to prepare them for their labor and birth with confidence, I have found my top tips for coping with labor uses a combination of the power of your body, mind, and your support system. In class, we go through a long list of comfort measures that couples can choose from so they feel super equipped to cope.
The ones I have picked today to share with you is from that same list and will help your body and mind along as they do their job of birthing your baby. So here goes!
1. MOVE! – You want to spend the majority of labor moving, whether you’re at home or in the hospital. Move your body and move around. You can use aids like a birth ball, or the back of a chair or your partner to lean against. But you can also keep it simple and do it really just by yourself. Go for a walk, rocks your hips, slow dance as you sway and do anything that you feel physically comfortable with. Rest for a little while if you feel tired or need a break but make sure you move just as much as you rest. Staying in bed all through labor is not a good idea (unless there is a medical reason to do so) as it slows labor down considerably and takes the body longer to birth the baby.
2. Touch and Emotional Support – Make sure you’re enveloped in love on your birthing day. Not only does this sound dreamy and nice, it actually serves a key biological function. The hormone that triggers the uterus to contract is oxytocin. Lots of touching, kissing, cuddling with your partner help trigger the release of this very important hormone and help labor progress. Gently spoken words of encouragement and support help you stay motivated and focused on the important task at hand of birthing the baby. Your partner and birth companion can play a crucial role in helping you cope with labor.
3. Use a Mantra – This tip ties back to the mental preparation you have done for your labor and birth. (And if you’re feeling mentally unprepared, now is the time to start!). Having sufficient knowledge of the labor and birth process, and your own preferences for your birth, will help you go through the intense experience with confidence and focus. Knowing what to expect and what is normal (and what is normal) takes the guessing out of the labor game. A mantra or a positive birth affirmation will give you something to hold onto, to stay motivated, to stay relaxed and to keep the big picture in mind. There are some great ones that you can use like, – “One at a time” “My baby and I can do this” or you can make your own up during pregnancy and even on the day of labor.