No matter how you choose to birth, it is important to think about how you can reduce discomfort and fear during labor. There are many ways to prepare for birth, including taking a childbirth education class.
Here are some of my top tips as both an Certified Elite Labor Doula and a childbirth instructor:
Rest and relax in the early stages of labor. Birth can sometimes be a marathon and you want to relax and conserve energy in early labor. Make sure you nourish yourself, so you have energy for the pushing stage. Focus on breathing through each contraction and relaxing areas in your body that are tensed up. Your partner or support person can remind you to release tension in areas that are tight.
Your environment can affect your mood. Consider dim lighting and bringing items from home that are comforting. I am a fan of lining tubs and window sills with LED candles. Some of my clients bring their own pillows or sentimental items from home. You could consider wearing your own clothing rather than a hospital gown. There are also cute labor gowns that you can purchase online. Music and guided meditations can be wonderful tools to utilize in labor. They can help keep you relaxed and calm.
Walking and changing positions are great ways to keep labor progressing. It is sometimes called “labor Olympics” by birth workers. Some positions to consider are swaying your hips in figure 8’s on the birthing ball, getting on your hands and knees and leaning into a birthing ball, and slow dancing. We talk about these positions and more in our Comfort Measures for Labor class, which is part of our Saturday Series of classes.
Hydration is key. Drink water between contractions. I am also a fan of electrolyte drinks to give you a bit more energy. My favorite option is coconut water if you like the taste. Hydration helps prevent exhaustion and reduces the need for IV fluids. You will also want to empty your bladder every hour.
Physical touch can be wonderful during labor. Birth doulas and partners can apply hip squeezes, counter pressure and labor massage to reduce discomfort. Some birthing persons prefer light touch massage. Touch can be very soothing and grounding to many laboring individuals. It can also be used with position changes.
6) Baths and Showers
Water is calming and can reduce the sensation of pain. Showers and baths before the pushing stage are a wonderful way to provide relief in a hospital setting. Some home birthing clients choose to deliver in water.
7) Hire a doula
Your doula can make sure you are comfortable and supported. The doula can also show your partner some of these hands-on support tools. Doulas can be a wonderful addition to your birthing team. They provide coaching, physical support and informational support.
Communicate your needs to your partner and support team. Listen to your body and know that comfort measures may feel good one minute and be uncomfortable the next. That is normal. Talk to your partner and doula if you have one about how you would like to be supported during labor and birth.
Now that you have reviewed these tips, what comfort measures would you like to apply to your birth? Are there any suggestions that are not appealing to you?
For more information about The Gold Coast Doulas Comfort Measures for Labor class, see our full schedule here: https://www.goldcoastdoulas.com/events/.
Written by Kristin Revere, Co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas.