Labour and birth are completely normal processes. There are lots of things that you and your husband/partner/support person and midwife/doctor can do to support the normal process of labour and the safe birth of your baby.
The day you go into labour is a day to celebrate – the birth of your long-awaited baby is imminent!
Hopefully you and your partner began preparing for birth months ago. Some of the things that will help you cope with the unpredictable length of labour and the intensity of the contractions that will be needed to birth your baby are:-
- Keeping Fit – Labour is called labour because it is generally hard work. If you have have maintained your fitness and stamina levels by staying active throughout your pregnancy you will be better able to cope with the physical demands of labour and birth. Click here for information about pregnancy exercise
- Being well-rested – Although women’s sleep is often interrupted during the last weeks of pregnancy by frequent trips to the toilet and difficulty with finding comfortable positions for sleep, it is important that you go to bed relatively early and make the time to rest regularly throughout the day during the final weeks of your pregnancy.
- You need to learn to trust that your body not only knows how to grow your baby, it also knows how to birth your baby. Because we are not able to control the process of birth and because we are frequently reminded that labour is difficult and painful, women are often fearful of the process. It is important that you come to terms with any of your fears prior to the onset of labour.
• Find a midwife or doctor who believes that birth is a normal process and is confident in and supportive of your ability to give birth.
• Attend birth preparation courses that give you and your partner labour coping skills and affirm your ability to give birth
• If you confidence is rocked by birth “horror stories”, something you’ve read or seen, or by careless comments, have a few affirmations that you can repeat to restore your confidence and positivity. e.g.
“I have had a healthy pregnancy, I will have a healthy labour and birth and a healthy baby.”
“My body knows what to do in labour and I will let it.”
“Labour prepares my baby for life outside my body.”
“Birth works – women have been giving birth since the beginning of time.”
“If my mother/sister/aunty/friend/neighbour/colleague can give birth so can I.”
“ It’s a birth day – labour does not go on forever – I will be able to manage a day of labour.”
• Make a positive Birth Plan with your midwife or doctor. While birth, like life, is full of surprises, the more convincingly you state your birth wishes, the more likely you are to get them. The purpose of a birth plan is not only to increase your chances of getting the birth you want but also to clarify your understanding of, your LMC midwife or doctor’s role during your labour and birth and the policies and protocols of the hospital/maternity unit if you have chosen a hospital birth. Your birth plan formally communicates your needs and desires to your LMC and gives you the opportunity to ask her what she will do to help you realize your wishes. Having a written Birth Plan also means that if your LMC is not able to be with you during your labour and birth for any reason, the back-up midwife or doctor is able to read about your choices and preferences.
Although the physical process that occurs during labour is the same for every woman, each woman’s experience of labour will be as individual as she is.