How keeping active helps while you’re in labour
You’re heading into the third trimester and soon, it will be time to start preparing for the biggest day of your life – the day you meet your new baby. Here are some tips for how to have the best birth experience you can, by keeping active and in control during labour.
Get baby ready
From around 34 weeks of pregnancy, you can try to start getting your baby into the best position for birth – that is, with his head down and
his spine at the front, against your tummy. Spend regular time kneeling forwards with your arms over a birthing ball or the bed, to encourage him into this position.
Prepare your body for labour too
You need to be able to get through a labour that might be long and intense, so make sure you are physically prepared for it. See our tips for pregnancy exercise on page 18 and in the lead-up to labour, practice potential birthing positions. You may like squatting but find your knees are weak, so work on practising to build them up. Flexibility can also help, so try gentle stretching of the legs and hips – though be careful not to over-stretch, as the relaxin hormone can make ligaments and joints more prone to injury.
Going into something with the right mental attitude is all-important. We’d highly recommend reading all the features on our website about labour and birth, as being prepared and educated is truly empowering. Taking birth classes is great, as you will learn what to expect and your partner can get in the know too. Finally, explore mindfulness and hypnobirthing, to help you feel calm and in control.
No lying down on the job, Mummy!
Keeping active during the labour itself will be one of the most powerful tools you can have in your kit of preparedness. From the first twinges of labour pains, try to focus on the feelings during contractions and then between them, take a little walk about, squat and swing your hips or even have a little dance. You’ll be surprised, in the early stages, how ‘normal’ you feel between contractions, so make the most of it to keep upright so as to encourage your baby down into the birth canal. Try to avoid lying down for long periods if you can.
Upright, Forwards, Over. This is a great way to describe the best birth position and the one our bodies would naturally lead us to take had we not seen decades of TV showing women lying on their backs. Try to stand next to the bed or a counter as much as possible, leaning your arms and head on
it. When you need a rest, kneel on the bed with piled pillows in front of you. Your baby puts pressure on the cervix and labor will be shorter. You may then be able to carry on with this position and give birth on your knees.
And – relax?
Breathing techniques are one of your most pow- erful tools; so is visualis- ing. Breathing through a contraction helps you cope and also helps visualise the cervix opening up. Try to relax the mouth outwards with each breath during a contraction, rather than keeping your lips tight and pursed, to mimic the stretching of the cervix; you should also try to relax your face – strange as it may seem, it will help your body work its magic!