1) Don’t panic
I know it’s daunting and I know you have probably been waiting a while for this or maybe you have gone into labour unexpectedly. Either way try not to panic because your mental state has a huge impact on your whole experience. Remember that this is all new to you but we have more than likely come across your scenario numerous times. Midwives want the best for you and your baby and want to be able to give you options and advice but if you are panicking communication is difficult for everyone.
2) Your birth partner is more important than you think
Your birth partner needs to understand you as a person and needs to be able to support you. Don’t let anyone come into your delivery room, at home or in hospital, unless you are sure he/she will be supportive and helpful. I once had a lovely woman allow her mother in law to attend her birth, almost instantly the atmosphere changed from being quite relaxed and calm to slightly awkward and stressful. She was asking numerous questions and her tone of voice expressed anxiety, she was loud and kept tapping her foot. The woman I was providing care for also changed. In the end she asked her mother-in-law to leave. She had her baby just 15 minutes later. Although it might be uncomfortable not inviting people or saying no if anyone asks but it will be more awkward if you have to ask them to leave during your labour. Try to remember those people that have made you feel calm in times of difficulty. Choose your birth partner/s well.
3) Sometimes things do not go according to your birth plan
Most women have a birth plan written and ready, but as labour progresses things can change. Rather than hold onto your original plans try and go with it. I once looked after a lady that was adamant she did not want an epidural; it was her first baby and at 6cm dilated (you need to get to 10cm) she was very distressed and kept talking about “letting everyone down.” She wanted an epidural but felt guilty about having one as she had set herself a rule. No epidural. Please try not to rule anything out, especially with your first baby. Take it as it comes, allow things to change and do what is right for you at the right time. That way you won’t feel bad, guilty or upset about any changes that occur along your journey to have your baby.
4) Have faith in yourself
Your body has grown another human inside you. It has supplied your baby with nutrition, excreted waste, your heart has increased in size, your lungs have changed shape, your blood volume has increased by 50% and your whole body has transformed. You are strong and your body is amazing. Have faith in yourself that this last hurdle maybe a hard one but you’ve got it.
5) Pack and be prepared by 36 weeks pregnant
Although it is not common to go into premature labour it can be quite a shock if you do and not being prepared makes everything seem worse. Have your bag ready to grab and go by 36 weeks.
6) Keep hydrated
A lot of women become dehydrated in labour, this can cause fetal tachy cardia (fast heart rate) try and sip water regularly and if you are having a water birth this is even more important to keep well hydrated. That can be your birth partners’ job…to keep the drinks coming!
7) Think about birth positions
Research suggests that sitting in a semi-recumbant position whilst in labour or pushing can increase pain and duration of labour. There are several positions that you can get into to push even if you have an epidural, for example, laying on your side with one leg bent up toward your chest is good. All fours for women that do not have an epidural is another option. Standing (if you can) during early labour is great as gravity takes its course and helps the head descend down into the pelvis. Sitting semi-recumbant is a little outdated, explore what is right for you and go for it.
8) Let the cord pulsate for at least one minute after birth
After you have had your baby the cord will need to be clamped and cut. Allow the cord to continue providing your baby with oxygen rich blood for at least one minute. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that delayed cord clamping is recommended for improved maternal and infant health and nutrition outcomes. It can also decrease the risk of you bleeding heavily after birth.
9) Newborn skindeep
Your newborn babies skin is 5x more absorbent or permeable than yours. Please be very careful with what you apply to their delicate skin because it is absorbed so quickly. We all know what alcohol does to us so if one of the main ingredients on any wash or moisturiser is alcohol avoid putting it on your newborn baby. Furthermore here is an interesting site with hazard information on products for babies.
10) Listen to your instinct and do what’s right for you
As a new mum you will be given a lot of information and advice from different people. Remember that your needs are individual and to listen to your instincts. Relax into your role as a new mother but if you are concerned about you or your baby let a healthcare professional know.
All the best