We share our top tips to help you overcome any concerns you have about giving birth.
Giving birth is the necessary and natural end to any pregnancy. However, for many women the worry of labour stops them from fully enjoying the 9 months they spend nurturing their developing baby before this. Getting stressed out about labour isn't good for you or baby, so to help you feel confident that you will be able to cope we share our top tips to help you overcome any worries you have about giving birth.
- Get informed - The unknown is always frightening and finding out about the different options available to you when you go into labour can really help you to feel in control. If it's the pain that you're worried about then speak to your midwife about the different forms of pain relief that will be available so that you can decide in advance which you think will be right for you. It can also be a good idea to take a tour of the birth centre or maternity ward where you plan to have your baby so that you feel familiar with the set-up when baby decides he or she is ready to arrive.
- Don't listen to scare stories - There's something about being pregnant that makes people feel the need to share their labour 'horror stories' with you. The media's portrayal of a stereotypical woman screaming her way through childbirth does little to allay any fears that you might have either. Despite this, it's really important to remember that every woman's experience of labour is different and just because someone you know had a bad experience, it doesn't mean that you will. Without trivialising any concerns that you have, try and remember that people have been having children for as long as they've been walking the planet so while it may seem like a daunting prospect, know that you will be able to get through labour unscathed.
- Make a birth plan - Setting out a plan detailing where you want to give birth, what kind of pain relief you'd like, who you want with you and even details such as whether you'd like music playing can really help you to feel in control as you progress towards your baby's due date. Click here for more information on writing a birth plan.
- Sort your support - Knowing that your partner, a parent or good friend will be there to support you both physically and emotionally during labour can help you to feel more comfortable about bringing your baby into the world. It's a good idea to choose a birth partner in advance so that you can practice the breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and even massage techniques that will come in handy when you go into labour.
- Get your body in shape - Eating healthily and taking moderate exercise throughout your pregnancy can really help you to get in the best shape possible for labour. Exercising will also help you to relieve any stress that you're feeling and pump you full of happy-hormones that will help you to feel more confident about your ability to cope with childbirth. Practicing pelvic floor exercises on a regular basis is also a good idea as having a strong pelvic floor can help to speed up the second stage of labour by making contractions more effective.
- Learn relaxation techniques - Whether it's visualisation techniques, focusing on an image of someone you care about or finding your 'happy place', practicing relaxation techniques throughout your pregnancy can really help you to cope with contractions once you're in labour.
- Practice your breathing - Different breathing techniques will help in different ways as you progress through labour, initially by helping you cope with the discomfort, then to make your contractions more effective. Try to practice different breathing techniques with your birth partner as they can help you stay focused as you progress through the later stages of labour.
- Learn about labour - Contractions usually start gently and then start to build in intensity as you progress through labour, giving you time to adapt, cope and feel in control with the way that your body is birthing your baby. Try and focus on the thought that any discomfort you are feeling is part of the natural process of childbirth and that it is in a way a good thing because it's telling you that your body is working hard to bring your baby into the world.
- Remember every birth is different - Even if a previous birth didn't go the way you had planned, it's important to remember that it doesn't mean that it wonï¿½t this time around.
- Share your concerns - Keeping any worries you have to yourself is only going to cause you unnecessary stress. If you're worried about labour or have any questions that you need to know the answer to in order to feel more comfortable then speak to your midwife. The AskBaby forums are also a great place to share any questions or concerns that you have.
- Focus on the end result - Unlike pain associated with an illness, the discomfort of labour is finite and unlikely to last more than 24 hours. Try to remember that labour is just a means to a wonderful end and that once you get through it you'll finally be able to meet the baby that you've been nurturing for the past 9 months.