Friday, June 24, 2011

10 top tips for stress-free childbirth

I emailed this to a friend a few years ago, as she was pregnant with her first baby and terrified.  She asked for realistic but not scary information about labour, so I sent her this.  Someone recently asked me about it again, so I dredged through old emails and found it for her.  Thought it made a good blog post too.:
1. Remember that the contractions usually start small and take a long time to build up. Don't leap out of your seat at the first twinge and spend the next 12 hours pacing round the house timing everything and worrying that they aren't regular yet. Take some paracetamol and have a long soak in a hot bath.

2. The general rule of thumb is that you'll dilate 1cm per hour once the contractions start, and the point at which you'll feel like you need to go to the hospital is usually about 1/2 way. If you can wait longer, it's very reassuring to hear the midwife say "oooh, you're at 7cm!" when you arrive.

3. Time passes very differently when you're in labour. You go into another dimension where everyone around you feels like it's taking years, and yet you'll wonder how 6 hours managed to go past before you've had a chance to ask what time it is.

4. Every contraction is bringing you one step closer to your baby and they DO end. The finish line is always in sight, you just have to keep focussed on it, and stop staring at your feet, wondering if you can go another step. You can.

5. Anything you say during labour is allowed. It is an unwritten law of childbirth that you can blame your husband or midwife for everything from your grazed knee through to the Rwandan genocide, if it helps you focus through the contraction, anything goes.

6. Feel free to order people around. Your hubby (or birthing partner) is there to serve your every whim, no matter how bizarre they may seem. However, if you have gas for pain relief, some of your more outlandish demands may not be possible (or legal).

7. Make a birth plan but be prepared to be flexible. There's nothing worse than having your heart set on a birthing pool, but your instincts taking over and turning you into a hyrdophobic wildcat on the day. Have a good idea of what you want to do, and more importantly what you DON'T want, but explore all your options, so you know what to shout for when you're halfway through the door and you decide the room smells wrong.

8. Listen to your midwife, she has been through this a hundred times at least, and she will remain calm and professional no matter how much your head spins round. Your partner however, may well be a gibbering mess and incapable of thought, let alone important advice.

9. Have your baby placed straight onto your chest as soon as it's born, it's the gold medal ceremony at the olympics and you're on the top podium :)

10. Sleep as much now as you can, and get walking when you're awake. Do exercises to get baby into the correct position for birth and build up your general fitness. You're about to do the hardest thing you've ever done, but it's more satisfying than winning the London Marathon and climbing Mount Everest all rolled into one.

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