Labour and delivery can actually rip off the mother’s joy from pregnancy especially if she is a first-time mum-to-be. Fear and trepidation can actually make labour worse and longer. There are many tricks/tips which can ease it, here are the 9 best ones.
By the end of this blog, you will feel much more confident and excited about your baby making way into this world.
Perineal massage (Yes, it’s a Thing!)
Perineal massage has been shown to increase the flexibility of the muscles around the cervix and thus create a smooth passage for the baby. This helps reduce the degree of tear and the chances of episiotomy. Scientists have argued that as opposed to the popular view some muscles of the body might not stretch by themselves. This included the perineum which needs to learn to supple and stretch.
Studies have consistently shown a vast effect on the reduction of episiotomy and second or third-degree tear. It can be as high as 77-79%.
Doing perineal massage twice or thrice a week is more than enough to notice such drastic and favourable changes. You can use extra virgin Coconut oil, Olive Oil or any other lubricant to massage the perineum. Make sure that your hands are clean and you have a mirror (it might be difficult to see down there without a hand held the mirror. You can start massaging by the end of the first trimester.
Here is a step by step guide:
Imagine your vagina as a face of a clock with 12 pointing towards the clitoris and six towards the anus. Then take two of your fingers and insert them around 3-4 cm deep. Start with lower half of your vagina by first moving towards 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock. Pull the fingers apart too so as for stretch the muscles. You can deepen them as long as it’s not hurting and all you feel is a little burning sensation. Stretch externally too.
Next, massage the outside area with your thumb, push the lips of the clitoris apart followed by the vaginal opening.
Then take fingers from both your hands and stretch the perineum towards your thighs.
Lastly. Move your thumb or fingers in a circular direction stretching and pulling all the muscles.
Repeat each step for 10-20 times. See a good perineal massage video here.
Perineal Massage not only prevents the tears but also increases blood circulation around the area, thus speeding up the healing after birth.
Lamaze breathing is a technique to relax and focus on what an amazing thing your body is going through rather than focusing on the pain and discomfort. It will calm you down while going through contractions.
Patterned Breathing has many benefits:
- Helps you to relax and bring out the positivity of the contractions.
- Increased oxygen to your body, which in turn means less medical intervention.
- Helps you survive the labour without an epidural for a long time.
- Reduces the need for forceps or vacuum during delivery.
- Makes contractions more productive and hence reduce the time of labour. If you will keep fighting it, your body fights against you too.
- Develops in you excellent life skill of mindfulness.
This research here proves that Lamaze breathing is still considered one of the best ways to ease out the laborious process of childbirth.
There is no definite pattern of breathing, some women find solace in
- Slow Breathing: Exhaling and Inhaling slowly.
- Light Accelerated breathing: Breathing in and out rapidly. Generally preferable during the last stages of labour.
- Transition breathing: Taking 2 breaths rapidly while inhaling and then exhaling slowly.
One important thing to do while exhaling is to push the air down the stomach like as if you are using the inhaled air to try and push the baby out.
Hit the Sack!
According to a study published in The American Journal Of Obstetrics and Gynecology women who slept fewer than 6 hours labored for 11 hours longer and had four times the chances to deliver by C-section than those who slept for 11 hours or longer. Insufficient sleep also increases the link of Gestational Diabetes.
It just takes 6 pillows to sleep comfortably. Put 2 behind your back, 2 between your knees, 1 under your head and the other under your belly to support and it’s done. Just hit the sack.
Pregnant women who exercise regularly, stay in shape and gain weight gradually – not only deal with fewer complications during labour and childbirth but also get back to their pre-baby body shape and strength sooner than others. This is because they have high endurance and more blood circulation which makes it easier on the body to take on pregnancy, labour and subsequently childbirth.
Dancing, squats, lunges, swimming, prenatal yoga, spinning, pelvic tilts, tailor sitting (help with breech baby), bouncing on the birthing ball (stretches the muscles) and walking are some of the exercises which can help you. They are also effective in relieving the lower back pain.
One more reason to exercise while pregnant is that it increases BDNF levels.BDNF regulates mood in all of us. But in pregnant women, it also focuses on baby’s brain development and placental growth. During pregnancy, BDNF focuses more on the latter than on the former. This is why 1 in 10 pregnant women suffer from depression.Exercising can increase its levels and hence prevent depression.
Exercising can also help with your child’s lifelong health problems.
Even though none of the foods can help induce the labour, there have been several foods, which if eaten regularly bring about a favourable outcome for labour and delivery. Two of the most famous are:
Dates: It is concluded that the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome.
Raspberry leaf tea: Women who have raspberry leaf tea regularly during the third trimester might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarian section, forceps or vacuum birth etc.
Apart from them, it becomes essential that you minimise your cravings to a minimum by the end of pregnancy and try to eat as healthy as you can.
Hire Good Support System!
According to a study of clinical trials published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who had continuous care provided by a doula (a person trained to support a laboring mother and her partner) were 50 percent less likely to need a C-section and 30 percent less likely to need pain medication, and they experienced a labor 25 percent shorter than those without this care. Discuss labour support with your doctor or care provider. Both you and she should be comfortable with the doula you hire.
Read Some books!
Books like Mindful Birthing, Ina May’s guide to Childbirth, Birthing from within, Childbirth without fear etc.teaches us various relaxation techniques like mindfulness, stretching, yoga to ease you during this natural moment of your life. These books strive to create a trust among women and teach them that pain and fear will bind you as long as you want to. Once you get over it, you will be able to realise the power of childbirth in no time.
Know about Labor Position that will make it easy!
Moving during labor releases endorphins which will decrease the pain and also help the baby get into the perfect position for birth.
A recent study found that having an epidural resulted in more babies being posterior at birth, not surprising when you consider that an epidural usually keeps a woman lying down, losing the advantage of gravity. But if you do need an epidural spend lots of time in the recovery position lying on your left side with the bottom leg straight and the right leg bent and resting on a pillow in front of the bottom leg.This position opens your pelvis to give room for the baby to rotate and makes the best use of gravity.
Some effective positions you can try during labour are:
- Side Lying
- Lying down on hands and knees
- Leaning Forward with support
- Sitting on Toilet
Focus on Optimal fetal positioning (OFP)!
Our sedentary lifestyles, including slouching on the couch, riding in cars and not maintaining a good posture allow gravity to encourage the heaviest part of the baby—the spine—to roll to the back of the mother’s body. This position can lead to the use of forceps and vacuum extraction while childbirth.
This theory was developed by Jean Sutton and Pauline Scott, who found that the baby’s location in the womb is affected by the mother’s position and movements. This can cause severe back pain, slower labour and overdue pregnancy.
Spending time every day sitting upright with a slightly forward lean, or kneel on the floor while leaning forward into the couch can help with the positioning of the baby in the womb.
One more tried and tested way is to adopt a hand and knees position for 10 minutes twice a day.
OFP is really important for vaginal birth and doctors to try to push the baby into this position during the active stages of labour too.
There are many odd things which can also contribute to an easier labour. There was a guest blogger who told us that she was actually asked to cough while pushing because she wasn’t able to feel her pelvic muscles after epidural. She, literally, coughed out her baby into the world.
Aren’t you trying to cough now? , wondering if the muscles which are working are the same as pelvic muscles or not.
Do you have any such fun tricks of yours which made your labour easier and faster? Share it with the Toothless community.