North London Massage, Doula, Pregnancy Massage, Baby Massage

Practical tips for a fear-free positive labour experience

Practical Tips For A Fear-Free Positive Labour Experience.

In this article I am going to focus on practical tips you can use for your fear-free and positive labour experience. This is a test of what I offer in my Birth Preparation Session. And for those of you who had the session, this is a good reminder list 🙂

Labour is a journey for which you are preparing.
Choose your destination, plan for it, stay flexible to go with the flow and enjoy the journey or part of it.

Consider the journey may take some time and it may be smooth indeed but it can also have some challenges and I invite you to account for these moments.
During labour this may be in the form of an emotion or of a physical sensation.

If you account for a moment where you will may be feeling exhausted and wanting to ‘give up’ or if you account for a time during labour where may be you will be scared or feeling tearing and vulnerable, or indeed experiencing pain, you are more luckily to accept it when this moment comes and you will be more prepared to over come it.

Like any great athlete that prepares for a great event, you need to consider that most probably at some point you will reach a point of ‘pain’ or tiredness’ and/ or ‘wanting to give up’, and like the great athlete you can already make the conscious decision and commitment that you will carry on anyway. Keep running and the fulfilment will invade you at the arrival line.

Of course labour is not a race to be won and there is nothing wrong in wanting an epidural or choosing a C-section. For that matter I supported few couples that chose a medicalised birth one of which in particular was quite beautiful in fact! And often there are good reasons if someone chooses interventions. However it is worth considering the benefits to you and your baby of a natural birth. And this article is for all those women that want to do so, avoiding interventions and their risks for mums and babies. Yes, any intervention carries risks.
I don’t go into details on this as it will make a different article but you can always call me if you have any questions. Or even just email me your interest in reading more about this topic.

So, like the great athlete, if you know why an intervention free labor is important to you, and you choose to commit to yourself, you can do anything.

And you will.

Practical Tips For A Fear-Free Positive Labour Experience

The aim of each technique is to help you establish a deeper connection with your body as well as helping you in building the confidence needed to approach childbirth. Having some tools you can use on the day is a great advantage.

The techniques you can use in your favour during labour are:

BREATHING -Deep relaxed and soft breathing focusing on the out breath. 
MOVEMENT – Walking, standing, rocking, sitting on a birth stool or using a birth-ball, bouncing, squatting, ‘all-four’/ hands and knees, side lying 
RELAXATION – Massage, water (shower, bath, pool, hot water bottle or ice), music, acupressure points/ acupuncture, aromatherapy. 
SOUND – Listening to or making sounds. 
THE POWER OF THE MIND – The most powerful tool, your brain: attitude, choices, and most of all its primal instincts. 

Any of these or a combination of them.
In my Birth Preparation Session I guide you through all of those in practice.
But here for you some tips.

BREATHING

Remember during labour your frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls learning, speech, reasoning, planning, inhibitions etc will switch off. And that is good, you want to encourage that!
(You can encourage that with dim light, privacy silence etc)

When this part of the brain switches off, all that ‘you learned’ also switches off to give priority to your instincts; your primitive brain takes over. This is the part of the brain that knows how to give birth.

This means that anything that comes natural to you will start working. With breathing it’s the same. If you learn a breathing technique but it doesn’t come natural to you, that will probably not be helpful during labour.

So experimenting with breathing, different style of breathing and see what works for you is key. Practice deep, relaxed breathing as much as you can before labour also helps. The aim is to make deep, relaxed and slow breathing becoming natural to you. Focus on a slow, soft out-breath.

MOVEMENT

Active-Birth-Positions

Active labour positions are difficult to describe on an article (specially as I wans to keep it short for you), but the web is full of pictures or videos on this, so you can easily explore it.

But consider all of the following: walking, standing, standing with support/ leaning forward positions (against a wall, a table or hugging your partner), rocking, sitting on a birth stool or using a birth-ball, bouncing, squatting, ‘all-four’/ hands and knees, side lying, (some women like to move dancing to a rhythm),  Etc.

The idea is to ease some pressure, facilitate dilation of the muscles and help baby descend by using gravity in your favor to facilitate labour progression.
I teach these in my birth preparation session, which is very practical.

Again, practicing before the birth can be helpful so it comes natural to you to use the various holds and techniques during labor.

Movement is a great way to work with surges for optimal foetal position, and labour progress.

RELAXATION

Helping yourself to feel and be relaxed is of huge importance during labour.

Relaxation during labour can be achieved in different ways in different moments.
Remember all the techniques you have at your disposal as well as:

MASSAGE
(thought to birth partner in my Birth Preparation Session as well as how to use the REBOZO)
WATER
Either or all: shower, bath, birth-pool, hot water bottle, ice. Sometimes women feels cold or hot during labour and a hot water bottle or some ice can release some tension, give comfort and aid relaxation.
Remember it’s easy to find ice in hospitals but the same doesn’t apply to hot water bottles. Having one can be very handy
MUSIC
In the background or on headpones if preffered to henhace privacy for some women, or singing (see sound section below)
ACUPRESSURE POINTS/ ACUPUNCTURE
(Thought to birth partner in my Birth Preparation Session. Some hospitals do offer this during labour. You can ask your midwife)
AROMATHERAPY OILS
Ask a qualified aroma therapist or simply chose some aromas you are attracted to and you instinctively like when you smell them.
HOMEOPATHY REMEDIES
(Ask a qualified homeopath or a full list is provided to those that book the Birth Preparation Session)

You may also want to consider having with you TENS MACHINE. This can work well during labour. It sends positive signals along the spinal cord and aids blood flow.

Note: also ‘gas and air’ can be successfully used to achieve a natural birth at the birth centre. Some will argue if it is a natural birth using gas&air.? The women I supported that used gas&air and birthed vaginally in birth centers consider their birth natural, so here we go.
But, yes it is worth considering that it can make you a little high and if you use it too much, specially close to delivery, it can space you out a little and you may not remember the special moment afterwards.
In any case, midwives will be able to support you with this or if you want something else.

SOUND

It can be in the form of background music to help you relax of course, but you may actually feel like you want to make sounds yourself.

Making sounds is a natural way to express emotions and state of being. We laugh when we are happy, cry when we are sad, we sing for pleasure, happiness or distraction, and we make deep sounds and sights when satisfied.
Sound is also used in many religions to create a positive energy field and vibrations.

You may find that making a deep sound during labour, a sound that makes your diaphragm vibrate, can be highly releasing.
A helpful, relaxing sound needs to be deep and dark rather then high pitched.

Your partner may want to lead you in a deeper sound if you start with a high pitch. This indicates you are a little tense and possibly scared. It’s okay, those are normal emotions to experience during labour. Working with sounds can help you release this tension and make you feel safe and grounded again.

(In my Birth Preparation Session we can experiment together making sounds, and how it feels when is deep versus high)

THE POWER OF THE MIND

The power of the mind in childbirth

The brain doesn’t recognise fiction from reality.

A simple thought is what the brain needs to activate an hormonal response. You can therefore use the power of positive thoughts during labour.

Likewise the brain doesn’t recognise negatives (don’t think of a blue elephant … right!?). So use the words appropriately:
E’g. ‘I don’t want to be scared’ can become: ‘even though I am scared I know can do it’
Or: ‘don’t be negative’ can become: ‘I choose to stay positive’

VISUALISATIONS AND/ OR MEDITAION are both very effective specially and mainly if you have been using it during pregnancy. For at least 10/ 12 weeks. These techniques work with storing the information in the unconscious brain, so that when you are in labour and your frontal cortex switches off, you still have positive, powerful messages in the unconscious part of the brain that can lead you in the direction you wanted to go.

AFFIRMATIONS: the power of positive words.
Your birth partner should know that a sweetly whispered word can make the difference between a positive or a negative experience at any given time.
Words such as:
‘You are doing so incredibly well’
‘I am so proud or you’
‘Beautiful’ or ‘you are beautiful’
‘Well done’
‘You are amazing’ or ‘you are doing such an amazing job’ ‘you are doing amazingly well’.

Also feeling the reassurance in vulnerable moments can be incredibly powerful.
‘It’s okay, I am right here with you, you can do it’.
‘it’s okay, you are safe. I am here with you’. ‘I am here for you I am not leaving you’.

The birth partner has a very important role!

The magic word: ‘Yes’.
In the exact moment when you feel you can’t do this anymore, start saying ‘yes’ and it can change how you feel.
You don’t need to be believing in it when you start saying ‘yes’. Just use it as a technique in thought moments. Start saying ‘yes’ it in that right moment, just start saying it. You birth partner could start for you and ask you to repeat and follow the lead.
Say it like a mantra ‘yes, …, yes, …, yes’. Keep it going for few surges, 4 or 5.

Every time you are in the verge of giving up (if at all) agree with your supporters to try a new technique for the next 3/ 4/ 5 surges. If you are still in the same mind afterwards it’s okay, any option is still open. But try a different technique first.

The mantra ‘Yes’ can be one of these techniques.

Remember you can chose from any of these categories:
BREATHING
MOVEMENT
RELAXATION
SOUND
THE POWER OF THE MIND

SURGES: QUICK SUGGESTIONS:

Surges are a powerful source of energy that generates in your body and travels through your body, helping your baby to be born.
This energy does more then one thing; it creates space in your body for the baby to come out, it helps muscles to open and streatch as well as helping the baby rotate in optimal position and wriggle down. Without this energy labour will not progress well.

Surges are a positive life force energy.

life force energy during childbirth

You can stay with it.
If you fight it you will make it more challenging for yourself, make it your friend instead!
Use the early part of labour to see what works for you and carry on with ‘your favourite technique.’

Chose to stay in that moment rather then wanting to escape it:
Focus on feeling your body, every muscle every tissue, relaxing, opening and melting; as well as feeling your body ‘getting heavy’ and grounded as you breath out can help.

Reminders from your birth partner to drop the jaw and shoulders during the surge, keeping your mouth soft and relaxed can be highly beneficial. As well as ‘shaking-off’ any left tension in your body once the surge passes you. Your partner may want to give you a quick massage-swipe over the shoulders after the surge if he/she notices any sign of tension.

Your birth partner has a very important role and learning to read your body language can be a great advantage.

Ultimately, allow yourself to lose control and inhibitions, after all the part of the brain that knows how to give birth is the primitive part of the brain. Birth is not a rational process. You need to ‘lose’ yourself in it.

Dare to surrender.

Last but not least, trust your birth support team; your partner, your midwives and of course most of all yourself and your baby.

Author Info

Eleonora Lawson

Deep tissue pregnancy and postnatal massage specialist. Birth and post-natal doula. Baby massage instructor and Sling consultant based in North London. CThA, Doula UK, AIMS, IAIM