In most hospitals there’s still strict rules and you’re not allow a birth partner with you until established labour (this is a bit of a postcode lottery, so do check with your chosen hospital). If you are in the hospital during early labour, maybe because you’re having an induction or have an underlying condition, there are things you can do to make a happier birth experience for yourself.
Firstly think of entertainment, what will occupy you in those first hours, maybe an iPad with some box sets. Maybe music, headphones, magazines, a charged phone and spare charger or power pack (don’t assume there will be somewhere to charge your phone). It’ll make such a difference if you can have access to the internet and to make some calls.
You may want to carefully consider packing items for comfort, such as nice nighties, slippers and toiletries. I’d recommend a nice hand cream or body lotion as I find your skin can get really dry in hospital. Another must for comfort is your own pillow and even a large shawl or wrap, get cozy!
I’d bring snacks and drinks and lots of them! Some great high energy snacks are nuts and raisins, dried fruit, protein energy balls (homemade are best), a pot of pasta kept next to an ice pack, pots of porridge that just need water adding, cereal bars, and some honey for a shot of liquid energy. Coconut water is great too, it’s full of electrolytes to keep you well hydrated. Find out the opening and closing times for the hospital shops, they may shut earlier than you think, especially at the weekend, so get anything you need whilst you can.
Now you’re comfy let’s think about helping your labour to move forward as quickly as possible, so you can have your partner join you.
For early pain relief (we’ll call it comfort measures, so we don’t have to use the p word again). Consider the use of water, hot and cold flannels, a TENS machine, positive affirmations. Ensure the room is dimly lit, maybe play your favourite music. Keep upright as much as possible and allow gravity to work its magic. Walk, rock around and circle on a birth ball, with your knees wide. Practice some gentle yoga moves and breathing exercises if it feels right, and alternate activity with rest. It’s great to listen to a pre recorded hypnobirthing script or a copy of my birth affirmations, to help you fully relax https://breathebirthyoga.co.uk/2020/06/29/pregnancy-birth-affirmations-relaxation-script/
There’s loads you can do to feel calm, cozy and to provide yourself with these comfort measures, to increase your levels of the hormone oxytocin, which gets labour started and moving along.
Don’t forget to eat your snacks and keep hydrated, you’ll need the energy. Make sure you go to the loo at least once an hour! You may not feel the need to go to the toilet much once labour starts but it’s important to try, as it can really help to have an empty bladder/bowel.
Ask for what you need from your midwife or other staff members but expect to wait, they get ever so busy. If it’s something you can comfortably manage yourself I suggest you do that, but if you need pain relief for example then do speak up. Bear in mind pain relief might take a while to come, it sometimes needs to be provided by a doctor. I’ve known it to take hours to arrive, so ask in plenty of time if you think you need something and don’t wait until you can’t cope.
Above all I want you to trust yourself. If you’re worked with me in my yoga classes, participated in my Active Birth Antenatal Workshops or if I’m working with you as your doula, you’ll know about birth physiology and how birth happens. Whether you think you can do it or not, your body and baby know how to birth, your body was created to know how. It’s been known for people in comas to give birth! Your body will have those surges and the foetal ejection reflex will kick in. Try and switch off, get into the primitive part of your brain and stop worrying and staying in the thinking part of your brain. We need to be ‘switched off’ and in ‘labour land’ for our best birth possible!
By the time you’re allowed your partner to join you, whether that be the father, your romantic partner, your doula or your mum, they can just pick up where you left off and support your in the way you need. I’ll write another blog soon on ways that a birth partner can support you.
Remember these affirmations and repeat often…
‘I am strong and capable, yet relaxed and calm’
‘I am a warrior, I can achieve anything I set my mind to’
‘My body and my baby know how to give birth’
‘I am relaxed and calm in body and mind’
‘I can do this, I am doing this!’
To see more information about my doula services, workshops and yoga classes please take a look at my website www.breathebirthyoga.co.uk or just get in touch, I’m happy to have a chat any time