Improve your Chances of an Easy Labor and Delivery
Can I Really do Things to Ensure an Easy Labor and Delivery?
Labor and childbirth is just one of those things where you never know what's going to happen. There is nothing in this article that will guarantee you an easy labor however there are various tricks and tips that are thought to make a difference. Whilst they might not work for everyone they are certainly worth a try- you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain!
One of the most important things you can do though, in my opinion, is to try to be positive about child birth. For first time mums there is definitely a fear of the unknown but being tense and scared during labor can make the whole experience worse- both in terms of how you perceive it and what's actually happening.
So how can you be positive about child birth? Again everyone's different but for me I wanted to find out everything I could before I gave birth- my philosophy was if I am prepared and understand what is happening then I'll feel more relaxed and less anxious. Other people, I Know, prefer the ignorance is bliss approach and that's fine if that works for you.
If you are going to prepare yourself by researching etc I recommend focusing on positive rather than negative birthing stories- everyone wants to share their horror stories with you but I'd avoid these as much as possible. Remember the female body is designed to bear children, women have been doing it all throughout history, many without epidurals or any other medicinal pain relief so don't go into the experience thinking you'll never be able to do it- you will and chances are you'll go on to do it again!
Things to do Before Labor
There are a few things you can try in the weeks leading up to labor to help make your labor go as smoothly as possible.
- Exercise regularly- I don't mean go for a run every day just gentle exercise such as walking, swimming or yoga - whatever you feel up to. This will ensure you are fit enough to endure your labor without getting too tired. Also some believe that walking in pregnancy keeps your pelvis open and ready for labor.
- Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea- there is much evidence to suggest that raspberry leaf tea improves your uterus muscle tone and so shortens the second stage of labor- the bit where you push. Some midwives are overcautious and suggest you drink it from 37 weeks but you need to have it in your system for some weeks for it to take effect. With this in mind start having one cup a day at 32 weeks and gradually increase to 3 cups a day. If you can't stomach the tea you can get it in tablet form from health stores. raspberry leaf tea is also really good for you after you've given birth as it helps your uterus return to its normal size.
- Take Evening Primrose Oil- You can take Evening Primrose Oil in tablet form from 36 weeks and use it as a vaginal suppository from 38 weeks. Evening Primrose helps to ripen the cervix and make it more stretchy. This will help will dilation and effacement during labor and should also help prevent you from tearing.
- Give Yourself a Perineal Massage- You can start doing this from 35 weeks. Massaging the Perineum in the lead up to labor has been shown to reduce the risk of tearing and the need for episiotomy. It also reduces the likelihood of perineal pain after birth. See the linked video for more information on how to perform the massage.
Things to do During Labor
Hopefully if you have prepared for your labor with the above tips your labor will progress smoothly-here are a few things you can do whilst in labor to help make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
- Stay Calm- Perhaps this is easier said than done but when you go into labor try to stay calm. Don't panic as this can make things worse. Remember your body is designed to give birth- you can do it. Breathing and visualization techniques can help you to stay calm. Some people imagine their baby moving further down the birth canal with every contraction for instance.
- Stay Active- As far as possible try to stay active especially during early labor. This will keep you occupied and the exercise can help your labor progress more quickly. You should be working with gravity to get your baby out and lying on a bed is the worst position to be in. If you can avoid this do so.
- Consider Laboring in Water- Obviously this is not for everyone but it has been shown to help the woman feel more relaxed, reduce her pain- or her perception of the pain, minimize the need for other forms of pain relief and speed up labor. Also you can labor in water and get out to give birth if you don't like the idea of your baby actually being born in the water.
- Avoid Epidurals-Obviously this is your choice and the pain might be so bad that you feel you can't manage without one. However, if you feel you can cope without an epidural then I would seriously recommend that you do. Epidurals have been known to slow down the second stage of labor as it blocks your urge to push and your ability to feel contractions. Also you are more likely to need an a forceps delivery.
Good luck and hopefully these tips might be able to help you have a positive birthing experience!