As the contractions intensify, you will find that they will stop you in your tracks and require your full concentration. Do not try to control them – go with them. If you are at home, find a quieter room where you can focus entirely on your contractions.
- Believe in yourself and your ability to cope with labour and the birth of your baby.
- Concentrate on your breathing, to calm you and take your mind off the contraction. Many women find that even just thinking about how they are breathing helps them cope better. If you find during labour that you are getting panicked or feel unable to cope, try and get your breathing under control again.
- During a contraction, concentrate on breathing out. Breathing in and out through the nose, or in through the nose and out through the mouth. Make sighing or blowing sounds, hum, or find any sound that helps you empty the lungs completely. Practice now to find a sound that helps you exhale fully. Think the words “Open Up” or visualise a flower “opening up” on each out-breath – this will also help relax the muscles around your vagina.
- When you breathe out, let your shoulders drop. If your shoulders are relaxed, your breathing will be easier. During contractions try and concentrate on relaxing your whole body, in particular keep your mouth and jaw open and loose. There is a connection between the muscles of your jaw and vagina!
- Try to stay as upright as possible so that the baby’s head sits firmly on the cervix, making your contractions stronger and more effective.
- Your knees should be bent slightly to avoid tiredness in the legs and to make pelvic rocking easier. Feet should be apart to give a wide base for support and to encourage an ‘open’ position’.
- At first keep moving between contractions, this will help you cope physically with the pain. Take up a comfortable position during contractions. You will find that different positions will be comfortable at different times. Follow your body’s natural cues. Practice these positions beforehand, so that you can follow your body's cues with ease. Remember that as each contraction subsides you will have time to recuperate.
- If your baby is in a posterior position, or you are suffering severe back pain, lean forward during contractions with your weight supported, such as on all fours, to take the baby’s weight off your back. Between contractions rock your pelvis to and fro.
- Ask your partner to massage your back, or hold a hot-water bottle to the base of your spine between contractions. Or you can wrap instant hot bandages sold in pharmacies for back-ache around your lower back - or front - for ongoing relief.
- Use hydrotherapy - your shower, bath or birthing pool, whatever you have access to, and still feel comfortable using.
- This can be a good time to use your birthing ball as sitting on the ball can bring relief, and also makes rocking your pelvis easier even during contractions. And as you are still upright gravity gets to play its part. Use it also to sit on while you lean on to the bed, or your partner, if you need to rest.
- You can also kneel and lean on the ball itself for support during labour A lot of women find that the pressure of pushing against the semi-rigid ball helps during contractions, and even during pushing. You are also in a perfect position for your partner or midwife to rub and massage your lower back, or to place heat pads if you are having a lot of pains in your back.
- Pass urine often so your bladder doesn’t get in the way of the baby.
- As the pains get stronger you may find that keeping your eyes closed is easier, or you may like to focus on a fixed spot or object to help keep your mind off the contraction.
- As contractions intensify relax between them to conserve your energy
- Sigh, moan, groan and shout to release pain.
- Take one contraction at a time and don’t think of the contractions to follow. Perhaps see each contraction as a wave, which you have to ride over to reach your baby. Remember that each contraction is one less to the birth of your baby!