Relaxing Into Labour: 10 Tips from a Doula
As a Doula I often get called during the middle of the night. This tends to happen when the first sensations are starting for a new mother. I walk in and everyone in the house is busy doing the labour thing. I nearly always spend the next hour trying to get everyone to relax and go back to bed. I normally go home or sleep in a spare room.
Relaxation is the key to both keeping labour moving and initiating it in the first place. Oxytocin is the hormone that drives labour and this is reliant on a calm mother to get it going and it will start to deplete dramatically as stress levels rise.
Here are 10 Tips
1. Give yourself the best chance of a good labour by taking time out each day after your 36th week to practice some deep breathing techniques.
2. Use relaxation therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology and massage to stimulate a the ripening of your cervix. (Studies show there is a less chance of induction and shorter labour for women who have had relaxation therapies).
3. Once contractions start have a small celebration then go back to bed or go and lie down in a darkened room. Being active can slow down the onset of labour. You need to keep those oxytocin hormones building.
4. Remove interruptions by turning off your phone. Change your voicemail message. One suggestion is, “We are having a baby sometime in the next few weeks. If you can’t get hold of us we are probably just tuning out and relaxing. Please leave a message and we will call you when we are ready”.
5. Eat well. If you are waking at 3am, have a good complex carbohydrate meal with some protein thrown in. You will need your energy and even if you don’t feel hungry this is the time to store up the calories.
6. Stay hydrated. Your energy levels depend on you keeping hydrated. Even if your waters have broken they are still being replenished by the water you take in so keep it coming.
7. Practice focused breathing techniques if you cannot sleep as your contractions come and go. This will help increase your oxytocin and endorphin levels.
8. Take a bath with some candles and relaxing music. Let your partner sleep as much as possible. Being quiet and unobserved can make a great difference to your progress the next day.
9. Try and ignore early labour as much as possible until the sensations take more of your focus. Stay quiet and focus on your breathing. Stay rested as much as possible. Sleep when you can or close your eyes.
10. Keep it secret. Don’t tell anyone other than your partner or birth attendants. This way no one will be bothering you and you can be confident that all you need to do is relax and focus on you and your baby.
Thanks to Emily for this contribution. We are delighted to provide Doula Training this September where you will learn how to transform your passion into a profession that can benefit the whole community.
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