Women will experience contractions quite differently. For some, it may feel strongest in their back, for others it occurs more in their abdomen. Early contractions may feel like menstrual cramps. As your contractions progress, the intensity may vary – with one contraction very strong, followed by a weaker one. This is common.
Being able to cope with your contractions will help you through the labour and subsequent birth. Yes, it can be painful and scary and it is normal to feel helpless and out of control, but there are things you can do to help yourself cope with contractions:
- Have a private midwife. These women play such a vital role in supporting you during labour.
- A birthing mother needs to listen to her body, move instinctively and use her intuition
- Hot water is a labouring women’s best friend. Hot towels on the lower back and on the front of the abdomen are fabulous.
- Take a big breath for the baby after each contraction. Oxygen is important for both of you.
- Use mats on the ground, lots of pillows, a bean bag or mediball. Welcome and enjoy your rest phases between contractions.
- In between contraction, squatting can help widen the pelvis and encourage the baby’s descent. Squatting during contractions can also help to intensify contractions. Active birthing positions increase the size of your pelvis by at least 28% and can decrease your labour time by a third.
- Try to urinate frequently, as a full bladder can limit your birthing capabilities. Add a few drops of peppermint oil in the toilet to help stimulate the urethra and the desire to urinate. It is important to stay hydrated and energetic with water and glucose drinks during your labour.
- Stay in touch with your baby and stay excited. Your baby is almost here. Hold onto some of your new baby’s clothing when you need to re-focus. Remember this process is about having a baby – it’s a celebration.
- Focus on relaxing and opening the vaginal areas. A birthing mother can help relax her vagina by relaxing her face and jaw.
- During the crowning, listen to your midwife and breathe the baby out rather than pushing.
They don’t call it labour for nothing. Having a baby is hard work, and part of that work is getting through the pain. But don’t panic. There are more ways than ever to manage that pain, and you don’t have to choose just one.
Talking through your concerns with one of our Doctors or Nurse Practitioners during your Antenatal period will help you be better prepared not only for Labour but also for the new adventure you are about to embark on with a new addition to your family.