Trust your body
In labour the uterus muscle tightens and relaxes with periods of tension known as contractions. Most people feel the contractions as cramps in the lower abdomen and describe them as feeling like menstrual cramping. Some people also feel the contraction in their lower back or legs. Contractions come in a very predictable rhythmic manner. There is a period of rest between the contractions, with the contractions growing stronger to a peak and then receding. The process is like waves on the ocean — building, cresting and then going back out to the sea. This image may even be one you choose to use during your labour.
Your body knows what to do in order to bring the baby to birth. Sometimes the most difficult part is understanding that pain is a normal part of the labour process. Understanding what to expect can help you and your support person cope.
Prepare for labour
Thinking and talking about the strategies that you use now to feel comfortable and able to relax will help you identify what you can use in labour and to be better prepared.
- Make a list of what you do now to help you feel calm emotionally and more at ease physically.
- Look around your home and think about where you would like to labour and will be most comfortable.
- Think of how you relax after a bad day at work. Do you listen to music, have a bath, watch TV, or have someone rub your back? What else? How might you be able to use these strategies in labour? Try to think of comforts that reach all your five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.
- List comforts you will be able to use in the car.
- List comforts you can continue to use at the hospital.
- Let your support person know which ones you prefer, so they can better help you in labour.
- Practice some relaxation techniques by yourself and/or with your labour support person.