1. Pay attention to your labor.
The best thing to do when labor begins is to IGNORE YOUR LABOR! Believe me, your labor will get your full attention when it kicks in to high gear. For now, if it is the middle of the night, go back to sleep. If it’s dinner time, eat dinner. If you were going to a movie but labor began, go to the movie. If you were heading out to do some shopping, go shopping. In other words, whether your contractions start out 4 minutes apart or 10 minutes apart, ignore them.
2. Time your contractions
As I said in the previous paragraph, no matter how close your contractions are, they should pretty much be ignored. It’s the emotions of labor that you need to pay attention to. If you can still chat between contractions, or continue to do what you would normally do at that time, then you should do it.
3. Don’t learn about the emotional signposts of labor.
Doulas, midwives, and childbirth professionals all know that moms emotions, how she’s feeling, the way she’s acting, and the sounds she’s making can tell you exactly where she is in labor. If you can say, while in labor, “ I think it’s time to go to the hospital or birth center.” THEN IT’S NOT TIME TO GO YET! It’s time to go when the moaning begins, mom can’t carry on a conversation between contractions, and she is totally focused on each contraction.
4. Go to your birth place when you’re first tempted to go.
Most first time parents go way too early. When you arrive at your birth place too soon, you risk slowing down your contractions, delaying progress, making labor many hours longer, and getting exhausted. You also add the risk of getting medication for pain relief, then getting artificial hormones to speed up labor, having time limits put on you by your birth place, and lastly an unexpected and unplanned cesarean section.
5. Don’t eat and drink during labor
I’ve heard it so many times. “I’m not hungry. I don’t want to eat anything.” Well, imagine running a marathon, or going on an all day hike and you don’t eat or drink anything. How do you think your body will respond to the lack of nutrition and water? Well, labor is a huge physical task and your body and your baby need food and water. Even if you eat a spoonful of yogurt, or a couple of bites of toast and honey, or a popsicle, it will help. Drink water with electrolytes ( Smart Water Coconut water, Gatorade G2). Your body will absorb it and perform a lot more efficiently.
6. Don’t Take A Bath
A local midwife I know calls the use of water in labor and “AQUA-DURAL” You get the pain relief, relaxation benefits, and more progress. So if you wake up in the middle of the night and contractions are keeping you awake, get in the tub. You can even pour in 2-4 lbs of Epsom Salts to relax you and slow your contractions enough so you can get back to sleep. During active labor, standing in the shower feels great. Don’t want to stand? Fold towels so you can cushion your knees and lean on a birth ball. Or sit on the birth ball. Throw a towel on top of the ball so you don’t slide and roll another towel to put around the base so the ball doesn’t roll. If you have a tub USE IT! If you don’t you can rent a birthing tub or use a blow up pool filled with warm water by attaching a hose to the faucet.
7. Go to Your Birthplace If Your Bag of Waters Breaks Before Labor Begins
Studies show that your risk of developing infection comes when you insert anything into the birth canal ie: checking cervical dilation. Most women will begin labor within 24 hours and a smaller number will begin within 48 hours. So stay home, walk, sleep, eat, drink, take a shower and continue to do what you normally would do. If you want to get things moving along, try acupressure, acupuncture, and other natural techniques to induce labor. Just don’t put ANYTHING in the vagina. Read more about why it’s best to stay home when your membranes rupture before labor begins. What to Do if Your Water Breaks: Is Your Baby Coming Quickly if Your Membranes Rupture? http://childbirth-labour-delivery.suite101.com/article.cfm/what-to-do-if-your-water-breaks#ixzz0rc88vXKS
8. Don’t Ask Questions and Leave The Decisions To Your Doctor/Midwife
There is one thing you can always count on when it comes to labor and birth-THE UNEXPECTED! But when faced with a choice or a decision it is very helpful and empowering if you know the right questions to ask. Penny Simkin came up with her “Key Questions About Your Care” and in a nutshell it’s important to “Bring Your Brain To Your Labor and Birth”.
BRAIN is an acronym for the questions to ask before any procedure, medication, test, or any kind of treatment is proposed. Remember that you’re asking about how it will affect both you and your baby. B stands for: What are the Benefits for me and my baby of this procedure/test? R stands for: What are the Risks for me and my baby? A stands for: Are there any Alternatives to this procedure? I is to remind you to use your Intuition after you have gathered the information. N stands for the option that most people don’t think of: Do Nothing. Wait! As long as this is a safe option, take the time to think about it, talk about it, and trust your instincts.
9. Have An Audience
Having people around watching you try to labor and birth will have the same effect as if you had an audience while you’re trying to do a poop. If you don’t feel a sense of privacy, quiet, safety, and support, your cervix will never open. So choose carefully and wisely who will be with you during labor, and stay in the privacy and safety of your own home as long as you possibly can-longer than you probably want to!