The main hormone that helps you to labor effectively is called oxytocin. This hormone shapes the frequence, length and strength of your contractions and works best if you feel calm and safe. We call oxytocin the hormone of love, labor and lactation because it is involved in each one. During labor and delivery we are responsible for providing you with information, support and help you make the choices that are right for you. I believe that every woman deserves to feel heard, cared for and safe and our goal is for you and your partner to experience a positive birthing experience.
Here comes 10 things that I recommend you try;
- Breathing is key! Rhythmic breathing will help manage your contractions. Our job is to demonstrate and constantly remind you about your breathing.
- One contraction at a time! Try to be present and not think too far ahead. You may find it difficult but remember that most women are free of pain in between contractions.
- Try to make your whole body feel heavy in between contraction. Relax you bottom, relax your shoulders and do not forget to relax your face.
- Gravity is your friend! Upright positions such as standing, kneeling, walking, slow dancing, sitting and squatting allow gravity to help the baby come down and out. If you are able to move around and change position regularly that is great. Remember to rest in between, take a seat on a pilates ball or lay in bed for a while. It is important to find positions that works for you and where you can feel as relaxed as possible.
- Create an environment that makes you feel safe and calm. This might entail dimly lit lights, space for you to move around and your favorite tunes playing.
- Try massage or acupressure. This releases endorphins which is the brains, feel good chemicals. Pelvic press is another maneuver that usually relieves pain during contractions. While standing behind you, your partner puts his or her hands on your hips and pulls back on them with each contraction. Find alternatives that feels good for you like applying a heating pad or sitting in the bathtub. Warm water immersion can be an effective pain relief during labor as it can diminish stress hormones and reduce pain by increasing the body’s production of pain relievers. The water also provides support and buoyancy that enables laboring women to relax and take advantage of the weightless feeling it provides; easing muscular tension and helping you relax between contractions. We will help you with pain-relief techniques, relaxation techniques and laboring positions as we go along depending on what you feel comfortable with.
- Your partner plays an important role in helping you get the care you need. We encourage partners to use comfort techniques and if he or she needs a break they can step back for a while and give emotional support instead.
- Try to stay positive. It is our responsibility to empower and support you throughout the birth of your baby and a lot of the time get you to realize how amazingly strong you really are. One technique that I use is when you are in pain and feeling stressed, instead of saying no (which usually feels natural), say yes. Say yes to your next contraction and getting one step closer to seeing you baby. You are staying positive and your body does not go into a flight or fight response because you seem to be in control. Try to take one step at a time and think about getting one step closer to meeting your baby.
- It is incredibly important with continuous presence from staff and your partner during labor. A recent Cochrane review show that continuous support during childbirth improve outcomes for women and infants, including increased spontaneous vaginal birth, shorter duration of labour, decreased caesarean birth, instrumental vaginal birth, use of any analgesia and negative feelings about childbirth experiences.
- My final advice is if you want to draw up a birth plan, that is great. It is fine to have an idea of how you would like the birth to go, but you need to be flexible because we cannot plan the amount of pain a woman can tolerate, the length of labor, the contractions and so on. What we can control is how you deal with the unexpected and how you feel about what happens. Our goal is always the same: a healthy baby delivered in the safest way possible. We are going to do everything in our power to help you achieve the birth of your dreams. We are all for birth plans, but sometimes, plans must change.
Do not hesitate to tell us what you are feeling, just talking about it might help. We are there to give you emotional, physical and educational support. Our goal is to make you feel safe and have a memorable birthing experience whether it is an unmedicated, medicated or a cesarean birth.
Here are more bloggs from midwife Sandra:
Bohren MA, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C, Fukuzawa RK, Cuthbert A .(2017). Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub6
WHO, (2017). Continuous support during childbirth may improve health outcomes for women and infants. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/maternal_perinatal/support-during-childbirth/en/
Heli, S. (3013). Confident birth. Pinter Martin Ltd (Best book you will ever read!!)
Hagberg, H. Marsal, K. Westergren, M. (2014). Obstetrics.Lund: Student literature