When you are preparing for labour and the birth of your baby, will be considering the options available to you help you cope with the sensations you will experience.
These are different for all people when they give birth, so you need to think about your own personal preferences.
It is helpful for you, your birth partner and the midwives if you have thought about your options and have some idea about your preferences, so that you can be supported to achieve these. Please put your thoughts in your birth plan and discuss them with your midwife, before “the big day”.
Self help techniques
These are the tools you can use at home, before you go into the midwife led unit, labour ward, or are staying at home to give birth to your baby. You can continue to use them throughout your labour to help you cope with the labour sensations and to shorten the labour.
These include relaxation, massage, breathing techniques, use of the birth ball, visualizations, creating a positive birth environment and using a birth pool.
As mentioned in the labour page adrenaline can have an impact on the hormones influencing the flow of labour.
Sometimes during labour, you may encounter situations that can make you feel stress or out of control, which could interfere with your labour. This can happen when you move from your home to the hospital. You move from a place that makes you feel safe to a place that is unknown to you. It also may happen if you are experiencing pain and are not able to cope with it.
Knowing this, you and your birth companion and the maternity staff can use techniques to make your surroundings feel safer and to assist you in coping with labour.
As Labour progresses, if the sensations are very intense, they may make you experience fear or stress, which will make your body release adrenaline and this can make your muscles more tense (including the uterus). This tension can make those sensations more intense and will lead to the cycle starting again.
The following video contain helpful tips for maintaining a positive mindset and avoiding the fear cycle. The aim is to give you ideas so that you can prepare for labour in a way that works for you.
As described in the clips, things like changing the language and using positive affirmations can be extremely helpful to keep a positive mind and prevent the fear cycle from happening. There are also things you can bring with you to change the environment and set up the room (think about how relaxed you feel in a spa). You can discuss those things with your midwife as part of your birth plan to ensure that all that you bring is safe to use (for example it would be dangerous to use flames in a hospital, but you can bring some battery powered candles).
You may feel that you need other medical forms of pain relief as your labour progresses.
- TENS, a small portable machine you can hire or buy and start to use at home
- Entonox, a gas made of nitrous oxide and oxygen
- Codeine phosphate, a mild opiate drug given as a tablet
- Diamorphine, an opiate drug given by injection
- Epidural, an opiate drug given as an infusion into the epidural space in your back, controlled by you with a small handset
Please speak to your midwife about these options when preparing your birth plan.
- Relaxation techniques for pain management in labour (Cochrane)
- Pain relief options during labour (Which)