It’s really important to start by mentioning that a calm birth doesn’t only have to take place at home. There is evidence to suggest that the moment you set foot in a hospital you are more likely to have medical intervention and also that as soon as you accept induction you are more likely to have a medically assisted birth. However it’s also our right to choose where to birth and I do think that if women were more informed of these facts and felt aware of the possiblities, the interventions would be more limited. It won’t be the first or last time you hear me say, ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER PEOPLE!’
However once you feel more in control of your decision making (hypnobirthing will 100% help you with this) there is absolutely every reason to take control of your environment whether it be in your bathroom (yes, really!), living room or hospital room. Just because you are entering a medical environment it doesn’t mean that the bright lights, smell and lack of creature comforts should be your only option. Here are the 5 things I believe would help in any environment to get you that calm birth…
What would be your poison of choice? There are so many options that you may not know where to begin but just a little research on straight forward oil properties will go a long way. Second time mums will have a better idea of what they want (though you may not have thought about it). For example I know that in my first labour I got super sleepy between my contractions after about 28 hours; grapefruit or lemon, something fresh and citrusy, was then a choice for me second time round in case of this happening again. I also know that I was wary of my contractions slowing down as they did before (to 7 minutes apart and lasting seconds) so I made sure I had clary sage at the ready to stimulate my cervix. Lastly, I made sure I had lavender as my got-to chill out relaxing oil for just generally ensuring I stayed calm. I used this throughout the majority of my pregnancy for massage and for burning while I practised hypnobirthing, so the power of positive association was huge!
There are so many options in aromatherapy and it is important to check what oils are suitable for what parts of labour/pregnancy and whether they can be used on the body or not. Totally worth looking into as they can instantly affect your state of mind and mood.
Not drinking water (but yes this is obviously crucial). Birthing or labour water. Not everyone likes the idea of giving birth in water. I personally have two close friends who can’t bear the idea of being in what I can only describe as ‘yucky’ water. However, I would be as brave as to almost guarantee the pain relief it will bring you. The nice thing is you don’t have to actually give birth in the water. I would recommend everyone to at least try just labouring in it when things are getting a bit tough and notice how your body relaxes as you hit the water. Actually, you probably won’t notice but get you birthing partner to tell you afterwards!
Most birthing units have birthing pools. Some actually in the rooms and some separate but they are sometimes limited and obviously on a first come first serve basis. Find out from your hospital whether they have normal baths that you could use to relax in and also whether showers are available if sitting in the tub doesn’t take your fancy. Standing up with a strong shower hitting your back is also great pain relief.
However, if you are planning for a home birth look into the ‘pool in a box’ option which you can rent for 5 weeks. They are not particularly cheap but worth having in the grand scheme of giving birth!
In particular for me, The Calm Birth Schools MP3s. I personally could not live without Suzy telling me to ‘breath in peace and breathe out tension’ during the last stages of my labour. Or also for us ‘plinky plonk’ meditation music and chanting. Ok that all sounds a bit way out there for some but the comfort of a repetitive sound does well to get you in the ‘zone’ and help you to concentrate on breathing. Although I do know of people that have used Reggae and Classical music during labour so it has to be something that you have positive affiliation with.
If you are in a hospital environment check what their facilities are. I know some birthing suites you can plug in your iPod but alternatively think about investing in a wireless speaker. We have the UE speaker, you can take it around with you so if you need to move rooms you don’t have to be faffing about with unplugging anything.
Create dim low lighting where possible. Voiles in Argos are super cheap and we wanted to make sure the birthing pool felt a little more cosy in front of the big bay windows (and also to ensure no neighbours got a shock). If you know that you are going into hospital and want to create that cosy feeling let this be your birthing partners job. We also used tea lights to set the scene and chose non scented because of already burning oils. Check with the hospital on bringing in candles and if its a no, then a small dimly lit lamp or projector would work perfectly. You can get beautiful ceiling projectors which are so mesmerising and worth their weight for the babies room afterwards!
5. Light touch massage
This one is perfect because it costs nothing! Your hypnobirthing course will teach you the principles of this and believe me you may be very skeptical to begin with, for example; hello, I’m massively pregnant with an aching everything and you want to tickle me!!?
This needs to be practiced as much as possible before labour otherwise it can be quite a distraction. If practised and done properly with your breathing the pain relief benefits again can be huge! Who knew!
Be specific about what you like. There were times in my labour that I absolutely needed this and then times where I just wanted Gigi there to lean on. However, if his forehead were to even graze mine I would make a communicative grunt to signal I definitely do not want this. Let your partner know beforehand to look out for signals not necessarily verbal that you do or don’t like something. Distraction can make any of us irritable even in the most calm of labours!
Hopefully the above 5 will help you to relax, be calm and ENJOY!