It is important to have confidence in your ability to labour and have a positive attitude. Using relaxation, breathing, moving about and having a birth partner to support and massage you will all help towards a satisfying birth experience. Fear makes pain worse, and many people feel frightened of what they don’t understand or can’t control. Learning about labour from antenatal classes, your midwife and from reputable websites are important first steps towards helping yourself during labour.
How can I help myself during labour?
The most important thing in labour is to get comfortable! Feeling in control of what is happening to you is important. Try to relax, listen to your body and keep calm.
Having a birth partner, friend or relative you can ‘lean on’ and support you during labour certainly helps. We know that a supportive birth partner reduces the need for extra pain management. If you don’t have anyone, don’t worry, your midwife will support you. Please ask if you need anything explained.
- If you are planning to have your baby in one of our Birth Centres or on the Central Delivery Suite, you may wish to familiarise yourself with the environment. Take a virtual tour of Cossham Birth Centre, Mendip Birth Centre - Southmead Hospital and Central Delivery Suite - Southmead Hospital
- Where possible, adjust the temperature and dim the lighting to your comfort.
- You may prefer some quiet times; remember to communicate your wishes to those with you.
- Some women like to be massaged, whereas others don't like to be touched.
Will changing positions help?
You will probably wish to change position regularly during the different stages of labour. Do try different positions as moving can make a real difference Your midwife can discuss position changes with you at the time, but here are some options for you to consider:
Nearly all women find that being upright helps them to cope better especially if you have backache. Also mobilising can enhance regular contractions during the early stages of labour. Upright positions are also known to encourage the baby’s descent through the birth canal and may make your labour a little shorter in duration. Upright positions include:
- Leaning over or onto the bed/chair, all fours.
Rocking your pelvis round and round or forwards and backwards may help. Evidence suggests that these positions can reduce the risk of forceps or ventouse delivery.
If you become tired, kneel upright or on all-fours on the bed or lying on your left side is known to be the optimum position for both you and your baby, if you need to rest.
Bean bags and large rolling balls and floor cushions are available at our Birth Centres and on the Central Delivery Suite if you wish to use these, or you may wish to bring your own.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pain-relief-labour