The term labour generally refers to a task that requires hard work for its accomplishment. Please note the keyword; hard work. So, Labour as related to delivery is not called labour for nothing. It requires a lot of hard work, perseverance and a great deal of endurance. The reward, of course, is your long-awaited baby.
Women are often advised to do a lot of things such as take a shower, get a massage, etc when they start to feel labour contractions, but most times, at that moment, a shower or a massage is the last thing on your mind.
Knowing the right things to do when labour starts, however, prepares you to handle the pain from contractions better and have easier and faster labour, as a result.
Here are 10 very useful things to do to make labour easier and faster
1. Be fit throughout your pregnancy.
If you’re already fit, pregnancy is not a reason to stop. Pregnancy itself makes you feel like you’re already worked out, and you can’t possibly do any more exercise. But research has shown that women who stay fit during pregnancy have easier labour sessions than those who don’t.
Cardio exercises like swimming and walking, squats, lunges, etc may help your breathing, helps you prevent unnecessary weight gain, relaxes your body, and prepare your muscles for the task of pushing your baby out.
2. Attend prenatal classes
Prenatal classes are very important. They help you know everything you need to know about labour and delivery, as well as the postpartum period. Attending these classes help to prepare you for labour by teaching you signs and stages of labour, and different birthing positions. You also get to ask questions and get answers firsthand. the instructors also share a number of tips to help you labour faster and easier
They are also an avenue to meet and socialize with other pregnant women.
3. Do pelvic floor exercise
Pelvic floor muscles are very important in pushing your little one out. They need to be tough and strong in order to stretch to allow the passage of your baby without tearing. They are also responsible for keeping your bladder and rectum in position.Kegels are exercises that help to strengthen these pelvic muscles. If they are strong, the spasm they make will be strong and hence, your baby would be pushed out faster.
Another reason for exercising them is so that you don’t experience any kind of incontinence after delivery, as labour is enough to make them weak, slack, or even tear.
4. Keep a positive mindset
Understanding that labour is a natural process and your body is designed for this would go a long way. Younger women have gone through it in the past and survived. Don’t tense up, and look at it the positive way – it’s the final stage before you finally get to meet your baby, so consider it as striving to your baby, rather than a difficult task.
5. Listen to your body
When contractions finally start and you start to feel those period-like pains at regular intervals, listen to your body. In the early stages, don’t pay much attention to the pain as you probably can still take it, and you realise it’s not yet an emergency. Finish up your work or handover, do some finishing touches to your house and then relax as you time your contractions.
During the active phase of labour, you will feel the urge to push, try not to until you absolutely can’t, anymore. Pay attention to every stage of it as if you’re going to write an exam on it later, otherwise, you might expend more energy or give yourself more pain while trying to do things on your own. If you panic, you could make decisions that are not necessary or change your mind about natural birth. So, be composed. Your body knows how to do this, just follow as it puts you through.
6. Boost your energy levels
It is a fact that you need some energy to go through labour. Consider these two scenarios: Running while hungry and running about an hour after lunch. Which one is less stressful? I bet you already understand how much energy is important in pushing your baby out.
Eat high energy foods that release energy slowly, such as oatmeal, bananas, toast, boiled eggs, etc. Dates are also great energy foods and they somehow help with labour. These foods fuel your body up for the task ahead and the process will be less exhausting. Snack on nuts and fruits to top up your fuel tank along the way in ensuring you have a faster and easier labour
7. Practice breathing exercises
When you’re in so much pain, it’s so easy to forget to inhale and exhale. But that just makes you feel worse. Take deep breaths as you feel the pain and exhale slowly, you will feel a great urge to scream and bang the bed and knock down the door, but it’s a trap! Instead, make deep noise as you exhale. This not only helps with pain management but it also activates the right muscles for pushing. Screaming at the top of your voice is not going to be worth all the energy wasted in the end, trust me
8. Get in comfortable positions
During the contractions, before active labour, feel free to change your position as you deem fit. Stand up, take a walk, squat, sit with a leg up, anything that makes you feel better.
During the active phase, you’re probably thinking to lie on your back is the only position, but that’s not true. Lying on the back is probably the most difficult one (I wonder how it became the norm). Women in the past give birth while squatting. Looking at it, it seems like a no brainer, since gravity has to do its own job too. So feel free to get on your feet with your legs bent and wide apart.
There are a series of birthing positions available, feel free to try different ones and see which one is most comfortable for you.
9. Try water birth
Warm water has a relaxing effect and also help with pain. The feeling of weightlessness inside water kind of remove a huge burden from the pelvic region. It reduces the chances of being medicated and also make it easier to move and change positions. Water births are faster and less painful.
In case you’re wondering, your baby would be fine being born inside water and there is no greater risk of infection for you or your baby.
10. Get epidural
Epidurals are given to stop pain from reaching the brain.Once administered, you will lose sensation below your waist, but you would be wide awake, because you still have to push when it’s time.If it works for you, you won’t feel a thing. But it doesn’t come without it’s side effects which may include back pain, low blood pressure, fever and general discomfort.Weigh your options and decide if this is right for you.
What methods did you try to make labour easier? Please share in the comment section below.