Top Labour tips from a real mum..
“Experience is what you have right after the moment you needed it”
This is a favourite saying from a friend of mine who’s known for his pithy one-liners. I think it fits well for labour.
We were as well prepared for the labour as I think you can be. The Birthability antenatal classes equipped us brilliantly with practical information and key questions to ask to help us make good decisions. I’d exercised diligently enough through pregnancy for a midwife to ask me if I’d been an athlete (hilarious as I’m known more as a red wine girl than a runner). And I’m a control freak so the bag was planned, packed and inventoried for my other half, every aspect of my maternity notes had been googled and my birth plan covered my wishes if things were to go right and if they went wrong.
We were lucky enough that our birth was pretty textbook and my ‘trust nature to know what its doing’ philosophy did work in this instance. It was extremely hard work, intense and felt like it lasted a lot longer than it did. And at the end of it we were blessed with a healthy baby boy.
There were some things that really struck me during or after the birth that I was either really glad I hadn’t known or wished I had known. Here are a few things I learnt from my experience which you may (or may not!) find handy / reassuring.
- You ‘think’ you’re in labour at least once before you ‘know’ you’re in labour. And even then you may well google ‘what do contractions feel like’ 20 times just to make sure.
- You really don’t need two thirds of what you packed in your suitcase … Unless you know you’re staying in one change of clothes (2 for baby) is enough, you’re unlikely to use the demure swim dress you bought for the pool and the Jo Malone candle and room fragrance from Neal’s Yard will still be in their cellophane when you get home. But do take a cheap cotton dressing gown and some old vests.
- Failing to keep down food and drink is a good sign for labour but the flipside is you need energy to keep going and water to stave off dehydration. After bringing back up bananas, pasta, energy balls and expensive fresh green juice I resorted to two sips of water after each contraction and was eventually spoon fed Raspberry Jelly. The jelly was the best food ever – just make sure it’s the version with sugar in it!
- In labour where you’ve got a good dose of oxytocin and endorphins going they’re an amazing pain killing, trance inducing combination. Just don’t expect them to take out the pins and needles in your arms or the bruising on your knees from changing positions to rest between or cope with contractions.
- And yes it does feel like you’re giving birth to a series of poos rather than a baby. Any escapees will be discretely scooped up and you’ll barely be aware.
- If you need stitches afterwards (very common) please don’t do what I did when asked if you’d like gas and air. I haughtily replied I’d got through labour without pain relief, what’s a few stitches? The local anaesthetic only goes so far, I ended up in shock and my son had to be taken off my other half as he slid to the floor in a near faint. Take the gas and air!
And the things I swore by that worked even when others thought I was mad or rude…
- My mantra of ‘its not pain, its process’ worked and this phrase got me through the tougher times of labour with remarkably few expletives and no pain relief.
- Not letting anyone know the due date meant that very few people were harassing me with their well-intentioned thoughts in the week that I was ‘late’ or as we said ‘still in the window’.
And in an instant all that labouring is worth it and being a mum brings an amazing new experience every day.
Guest blog by Clare – thankyou so much for sharing your experiences with our mums!