Recently I experienced labour number two. Although I had been through this life changing experience once before I was still very afraid. A little more relaxed, but as someone who suffers from anxiety, I was still very afraid. So, here is me telling you how I relaxed during labour! I am going to tell you the techniques that I used during both my labours. They were very different and I found that different things worked better for me the first time round and vice versa. It’s funny, because you assume just because you’ve done it before the same things will be useful again, but that’s not always the case.
When labouring with Roman, my first born, I had absolutely no idea if what I was experiencing was labour. I had something called Braxton Hicks contractions earlier in the pregnancy and, well, because I’d never done this before, I wasn’t sure if it was labour or just Braxton Hicks again! After 12ish hours of labouring I had established the fact that my baby was on it’s way! How I dealt with the pain? I walked up and down the bedroom singing the alphabet when each contraction arrived. They tell you to sleep if you experience labour pains during the night, but I am a light sleeper and there was no way I could sleep through the pain. Eventually I put a hot water bottle, much like during menstrual cramps, on my lower back and found that it was really soothing. I used breathing techniques to calm my mind and I talked to Roman and told him that It’s OK for him to arrive now. I told him how strong we both were and how ‘we can do this’.
I suffered from something called Hyperemesis Gravidarum during pregnancy, just like Princess Kate, or rather, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge! It’s a severe complication that afflicts about 15% of pregnancies and this can return during labour. In my case it did, but to be honest, it did not bother me much. Once I was in hospital, I found that a warm bath followed by the birthing pool were both very soothing and worked great as pain relief. I was very helpless when labouring with Roman, I was scared because I had no idea what I was doing. I found a cool, wet face cloth useful as I was very hot during labour with Roman – it was the hottest day of the year so far that year. Pack some natural muslin cloths like these to keep yourself cool. My tip would be to have a bowl off cool water with 2-3 cloths and then once one has warmed on your skin you can swap it for a fresh, cool one to soothe you.
When labouring with Béla, my second born, it was very different. I wasn’t sure if I was in labour, those darn Braxton Hicks contractions had me fooled again! I was out and about the morning my labour started. First I took Roman swimming, then we went for lunch. Afterwards we headed to town to buy him some holiday bits while I bought myself lots of flowers from my favourite florist in St. Nicholas’ market! Two days my labour lasted! It was stopping and starting, sometimes very painful, and other times not so painful. Even though I was labouring on the hottest day of the year again, I was only getting hot whilst having a contraction. Straight after I would feel very cold again. This time I used homeopathy to help control symptoms, and I suggest seeing a registered homeopath before the birth!
Hydration and Massage
Hydration is key during labour – they don’t call it labour for nothing! It’s hard work for the majority of us and water = energy. Try to stay well hydrated throughout!
Finally there is massage. Your birthing partner can rub your back to help ease the tension of each contraction. I suspect you’ll want a firm massage like I did, be sure to use a massage oil or else you’ll end up with a sore back. I came away with burns on my lower back after my first labour due to the fact I didn’t take any oil with me. My poor partners hands were in pieces by the end of it too!
Just take a deep breath and relax. Find affirmations and print them off and ask your birthing partner to read them to you. They will help you to feel empowered and strong. Though I found my first labour slightly stressful due to a poor midwife, when I birthed my beautiful baby boy I felt so strong I was so proud of myself I couldn’t believe what I had done! The second time round I felt more in control and the pushing stage was much easier as I understood what was happening. I felt much more connected with my baby and my body. I think it’s very important to try and connect with your body as much as possible. Listen to your baby, they know what they’re doing, too!
The Nicest Pain in the World
I can honestly say I love labouring. I won’t lie to you, it’s painful, and you can’t even explain the pain to someone that hasn’t experienced it. But it’s the nicest pain in the world because it brings so much pleasure. I’m not sure that all women feel this way about their labours, but I get a little emotional when I think back and I kind of wish that I could do it again. It sounds crazy, but I think it’s because I relaxed myself as much as possible. And this is coming from someone who got “blue lighted” half-way across town because the midwives were worried for the safety of my second born!
When I was in that ambulance I was anxious and scared at first. I felt sad that I wouldn’t have my midwife-led water birth. I was afraid my partner would miss the birth as it was peak traffic time and a long-ish drive to the hospital. But I told myself everything will be OK, trust your baby and your body. I took some deep breaths and relaxed my mind and body.
It wasn’t long and my partner arrived, and within seconds labour was in full swing and along came baby Béla!
I really hope you find all this advice, information and tips useful during your labour. Just remember to relax and trust your body – it knows what it’s doing even if you feel like you don’t. Wishing you all a calm, natural and magnificent labour journey. You got this mama! If you have any tips/advice you can offer mums-to-be please leave them in the comments!