Managing Early Labour
I met a great gentle birth coach during the week and she made a really valid point, that the majority of labour will actually be spent at home. With the current restrictions in Irish hospitals for partners of pregnant women, most would probably prefer to be at home for as long as possible. So if this is the case do we actually create an environment at home that can help our labour?
If you are in the latter stages of your 3rd trimester this is something that you might want to start planning for now!
For me in my first labour I created a space in my bedroom to have my contractions and then when I wasn’t having a contraction I distracted myself, by walking around the house. Once I went into labour I could not sit or lie down so this was my only option. I intend to do something very similiar for my second labour.
So how do you set up the ideal space? You need to create an environment that will help will creating oxytocin. So a room with dim lighting, candles, incense of your favourite oils, lavender and clary sage are really lovely, a relaxing playlist and maybe if you need it some printed affirmations. You will need a space within this room, where you can breathe through your contractions in peace and quiet and not be disturbed. I used a wall last time and pushed my hands up against it and kept my head down and eyes closed to get through each contraction. A lot of deep breathing until it passed and then I left that space. If you have a pilates ball/birthing ball it may suit you to stretch across this for each contraction whilst your partner rubs your lower back, it really depends on how hard you find the contractions and what position you feel most comfortable in. It helps if you have this area set up a few weeks before your due date and you spend some time each evening in this space with the music and candles, essentials oils, so the smells and sounds become familiar to you, so when you do go into labour it is already a relaxing place in your mind.
When you mention to your partner you are in labour, that person will more than likely go into a little panic and want to get you immediately to hospital, but there may not be any need for this especially if it is early labour and your waters have not yet broken. It is best to time the contractions, ensure it is not a false alarm, contact your hospital for advice on when you should come in and then let your partner time the contractions so you are not going to hospital too early. Now I have to give a massive caveat here, as I had a very quick labour, and I was continually told to stay at home, so by the time I got to hospital I was already 8cm dilated and I only went in as my friend was very concerned how far along I was. I thought myself the baby was coming quick but as it was my first, the midwifes on the phone just thought I was nervous as I was able talk through the contractions.
In between my contractions, I had a shower to help me relax, rechecked my bag and tried to stay as calm as possible. If this is your second birth, then you will need a plan of what to do with your other child. I am lucky my mother in law is 20 minutes away so she has already agreed to take care of Isobel. If you have no-one close by and you are managing labour at home you might not have as much quiet time as you need, and your partner will need to manage your other child’s fears. As I know from experience if your child thinks you are in pain, they can panic and wonder what is wrong with mummy, and you don’t want to be trying to get through a contraction while alleviating their concerns too. Some great advice from Emma the birthing coach was to get the kids involved, if you have music on, encourage them to dance, and hold mama’s hand and get your partner to explain what is happening. If you really don’t think this option is for you, then it is even more important to create a separate quiet space just for you and let your partner manage the other children. It will be all trial and error and dependent on your level of pain and speed of labour but at least if you have planned for these outcomes you will be able deal with them better as they occur.
For those interested in my first birth story, please have a read here.
I will no doubt blog about my second birth story in a few weeks!