Top Tips On What To Do When The Birth Begins… After You’ve Done A Mini-Backflip In Excitement Of Course
In a previous blog post I spoke about vaginal examinations and reaching that seemingly all important (but in actual fact, rather arbitrary) 4cm of dilatation. I spoke about all of the important changes happening to your cervix during the part of birth leading up to that point and I mentioned that you may be asked to return home if you arrive at the hospital having not reached this milestone. So, today I wanted to talk about what you can do at home, to help you stay there a little longer and hopefully avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital or an unnecessary home visit from a midwife.
1) Ignore your surges– from the very first surge to your baby being born can often be a few days, especially if it is your first baby. If you start counting and timing your surges from the very start you’re probably going to run out of steam fairly quickly and wonder where on Earth your baby is. If you can, just continue to go about your planned day. If you have to stop every so often for a surge, that’s fine, just continue once the surge has passed. You may find you have a very strong nesting instinct at this point and you might that cleaning the house is all you want to do. Great! Cleaning often involves upright and forward-leaning positions- all ideal for helping to move your baby closer and closer. If it’s the evening time and you were off to bed then go to bed and try to get some rest in, excitement can take over but you will be grateful for even a little bit of sleep as the baby gets closer.
2) Breathe- obviously there will come a point when you can’t ignore them anymore and you’ll need a new strategy. So, breathe through them. Focussing on your breathing is great way of distracting yourself and helping to keep yourself calm. At our classes, we teach you specific breathing techniques to practise during pregnancy and use during the birth.
3) Go for a walk– is there anything more relaxing than getting away from it all and taking a stroll at your local forest/ woods/ park. Even in the big cities you’re not normally too far from a green space and it can really help to get your head into the right place. Doing this not only helps your mind but also your body. The gravity from being upright will encourage your baby to move further into your pelvis.
4) Snack, snack, snack- you may not have much of an appetite whilst giving birth but it’s really important to try and keep up your energy supplies. Your uterus is a huge muscle and in order to work it needs fuel- this comes in the form of glucose. Your body is pretty clever and stores extra energy supplies to help power your uterus through birth but this can lead to a build of ketones in your blood. It’s far better if you can fuel it with food. You can be as unhealthy as you like- the more sugar the better. My food of choice was a chocolate orange- I’d saved it from Christmas specially to eat throughout the birth. You can eat toast, pasta, chocolate, dried fruit, cereal, sweets, breakfast bars- anything that takes your fancy. Little and often is key. Get your partner to offer a bite every three or four surges.
5) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate– along the same lines- you will need to keep hydrated. The best kind of drinks are isotonic drinks- they will hydrate you better than water alone. Plus, they are often packed with extra sugar to fuel those all-important surges. Be sure to have some straws at the ready, they make it far easier if you’re in an awkward position to drink without having to move.
6) Wee often- you may think that you won’t need reminding on this front, after all you’ve probably been off to the loo every 20 minutes for the last few weeks of pregnancy. However, something strange seems to happen when the surges start- whether it’s the excitement of what is to come or maybe just a physical change in the sensations but it can be easy to forget. An overfull bladder will prevent your baby moving downwards easily and obviously it’s not good for your bladder either. So, get your partner to remind you to go at least every 2 hours or so.
7) Use your favourite birth affirmations- something like “each surge brings me closer to my baby”, keep repeating your favourite phrase over in your head or get your partner to do it for you. For some inspiration use the cards we give you at the class.
8) Take a bath– the soothing water can really help you to get into that zone of relaxation, sometimes it may slow the surges down a little too- if it does then take the opportunity to enjoy the break. Have the water as close to body temperature as you can get- too hot and yours and your baby’s hearts may start to race, too cold and it won’t be very pleasant.
9) Listen to your hypnobirthing MP3’s– hopefully by this point you will be very familiar with these and they will almost instantly take you to that place of calm and tranquillity.
10) Watch a comedy DVD- laughter is one sure way to lighten the mood and change how you’re feeling. Pop on your favourite comedian and have a good old giggle with your partner.
11) Turn down the lights– this will help with oxytocin release and, again, help you to get into that nice relaxed zone.
12) Adopt upright and forward-leaning positions- as with going for a walk- you will have gravity on your side, helping your baby to descend further into the pelvis. These positions will also encourage your baby not to turn into a ‘back-to-back’ position. You can try standing, leaning over the kitchen worktops, sitting on an exercise ball, on all fours, kneeling, sitting on a chair backwards, sitting on the toilet, walking, squatting supported by your partner- there’s all kinds of different positions you can try- find the most comfortable one for you.
13) Rest- if it’s night-time or if you’re feeling tired, try laying down on your left side. Even if you can’t nod off to sleep, just close your eyes and rest.
14) Massage- get your partner to give you a massage- this can be on your lower back, which is normally the most relaxing but it can be anywhere- hands, feet, shoulders. You’re in charge- tell your partner what you want. We teach you and your partner specific massage techniques in our classes too, so you’ll know exactly what to do.
15) Play some music– put on your favourite album or play some relaxing acoustic sounds. Anything that helps take your mind to good place.
16) Visualise- use the techniques we taught you in the classes- a calming colour, your baby in your arms, your favourite place in nature, etc.
17) Ditch the technology– there’s so much information on our phones and computers that we just don’t need to know about when giving birth. We don’t need to know of the horrors in the news or the dramas in your friend’s life. You need to focus on you and your baby and you can’t do that whilst scrolling through social media and reading texts. Turn it off. On a side note- don’t tell the world that things have started, maybe let your parents know but make sure they don’t spread the word on your behalf. As soon as people hear the news they will be inundating you with messages and calls wanting know where “that baby is”. All with care and love but, like I said at the beginning, it can take a few days and you don’t want to have to be fielding enquiries every five minutes until the baby arrives.
I think that’s about it. Basically, do whatever you can to distract yourself from your surges, then when you can no longer ignore them- surround yourself in relaxation. Your partner is there to look after you and to be there for you- use them! Call your midwife and take guidance from her as and when you need it- your midwife should have gone through with you exactly when you need to call. Most of all- try to enjoy it and revel in the fact that soon you will be holding your baby.
Chloe’s courses run in Upminster on the second and fourth Sunday of each month. You can find out more, and book here.