When I had my first son it was a semi-planned cesarean birth. So I never experienced labour. With my second son I had a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) at my local hospital. My labour was quite short (4 1/2 hours) and I never tried anything for comfort – I just never had time. I remember I went to get off the bed to try the shower, on the advice of my nurse, and I couldn’t bend. Soon after I was pushing. So in the end I never had time to utilize the shower or try anything. I did give birth on my side, which at the time confused me. I remember thinking “but you give birth on your back!”. Please forgive me, that was 19 years ago and 15 years before I even know what a doula was.
With my clients I have tried a lot of different positions for not just pushing, but labour itself. We actually spend a good amount of time on comfort measures so they have some techniques to use in early labour before I join them. I am also a rebozo instructor and in that training I learnt a lot of ways to use a rebozo for comfort during labour and the pushing stage. I am going to share with you the top 10 techniques that clients use for their labours and deliveries.
1 Use a yoga ball! If you don’t have one, hit up Walmart and buy one for $20. You can use this while still pregnant to help get baby into an optimal position for birth, during labour you can bounce on it, sway back and forth on it, do figure eights sitting on it. You can also do a modified hands and knees leaning over the ball which can be useful during labour. Lucky us! Red Deer Hospital has one in each room!
2. It is amazing how being touched and massaged can relieve so many aches and pains. It might be a gentle touch from a loved one or someone trained in massage who helps relieve some aches while not only in labour, but during pregnancy as well. A study came out recently about being in the dark while in labour. I have often witnessed clients going to dark rooms and labouring there. The darkness can be a great place to be for sure! Those bright florescent lights at hospitals are just not nice. Bring some battery operated candles along and turn those bright over head lights off!
3. Music is something that a lot of people like. I like it at the hospital because it can block out other noises, whether it be the mom next door being vocal or the nurses at shift change. Music can really help set the mood. So load up your phone or iPod with some nice spa type music and pack it in your hospital bag.
4. Water/Hydrotherapy. Need I say more? Water is a place many people go when feeling sick, upset, in pain… a nice warm bath can fix a lot of things. So when in labour a warm shower on your back can be fantastic! Or soaking in a bath tub can help ease some of the pains and help your tummy feel a little lighter. I wish I had made it into the shower!
5. In my prenatal classes we talk about and try imagery. It might be something you think in your head, like a warm beach and the waves are your contractions washing in and going out. For others it might be an image in your head of your baby you are about to meet. Never under estimate the power of what’s in your head.
6. Many of my birth clients do yoga. Some just do it while pregnant and others are dedicated yogis. We have a local place that offers amazing prenatal yoga. The instructor is amazing at explaining things and showing positions to get baby in a good position. Many of the moves can used in labour as well!
7. You always hear stories on moms wanting to get their labours stated and they walk and walk some more. Walking can help move a baby a little as you take steps and help get baby into a good position for birth. It can also get things moving along a bit if things seem slow.
8. Something a lot of my clients do it lean on their partner and sway. Resting their head on their loved ones chest and listening to their heart beat… oh so lovely! We also call it slow dancing – dim those lights, put some music on and get dancing!
9. Massage and touch is always a nice thing! Make sure you find out what type of touch your partner likes before she is in labour though! Long stokes, shorter stokes? Firm or soft touch? Talk to her and find out what she likes and where she likes to be touched. It could be a simple hand massage or a foot massage. You don’t need to me a massage therapist to help someone feel better in labour.
10. We often go and find some stairs at the hospital or the clients home. You can do side-stepping on the stairs, lunges or just going up and down. Just remember to have someone with you at all times of you are on the stairs while in labour to spot you and make sure you are safe.
Good luck with your labour and we hope some of these tips help you to move that baby along and provide some comfort. Happy birthing!