Useful Skills When Going Into Labour
At antenatal classes, you'll have been taught new techniques and skills to use when you go into labour. When that moment finally arrives, here are some of the skills you'll need to put into practice.
Relaxing and VisualisingYour natural instinct when labour starts might not be too relax, but doing so will make things easier. Not only will it make things better for your body in general, but relaxing will also make it easier for your uterus to contract and for your body to produce more of its natural pain-relieving substances - or what are known as endorphins. There are also benefits for your baby too, as he'll be getting a good supply of oxygen if you're calm rather than stressed. Plus, you'll get less tired and will be able to communicate better with your partner, labour companion or the midwives.
Some women find that relaxing is easier if they use creative visualisation skills. This is something you can practice in advance, so you're ready to put it into action when your waters break. For example, you could visualise yourself lying in a calm and quiet place, like a green meadow with fresh grass, on a sunny empty beach, on a big comfy sofa or floating calmly in the sea. The main thing is that whatever you visualise should be happy and peaceful and help promote relaxation.
It's also worth visualising the contractions as something else, to take your mind off the pain. For example, you could see each one as steps you're taking to climb up a huge hill.
BreathingGetting your breathing right is really important and will also help you to relax. When you've got contractions, remember to breathe evenly, deeply and as slowly as you can. Focus on your breathing, as it will give you something else to think of other than the contractions you're having, plus it will help you let go of any tension.
Some useful breathing tips to help you concentrate on what you're doing include:
- Parting your lips and sighing as you breathe out.
- Making little noises like, 'mmm' or 'aaah' as you breathe out.
- Focusing on someone else, like your partner, who's in the room with you and focusing on breathing out towards them - as if you're giving them your breath.
- Getting your partner to talk you through your breathing, emphasising that you're relaxing even more each time you breathe out.
During the first stage of labour it's useful to try:
- Upright positions - this helps produce the hormones your body needs for labour and gravity can help your baby move down through your pelvis.
- Positions with your legs apart - such as kneeling on all fours or sitting the wrong way around on an upright chair, as these will help your pelvis open up and give your baby more space.
- Positions where you're leaning forward - these will help widen the space between your back and the front of your pelvis. It will make it easier for your uterus muscles to work and give your baby more room.