The secret to a chilled out birth is getting your body and mind into shape during your pregnancy
If you want to banish those b-day nerves there are simple acts of controlled breathing, moving and thinking that can not only bestow upon you a blissfully calm mind and body during your pregnancy – they’ll set you up for a more in-control, relaxed birth, too.
Possibly the cutest-sounding treatment we’ve heard of in a long time, Daisy Birthing is the brain child of mum-of-five Julie Long from Lazy Daisy, and combines yoga and tai chi-style movement, as well as visualisation techniques.
Julie explains: “Rather than tuning out their fears or worries about birth, we try and help mums tune in and deal with them so they have an empowered birth, whatever the delivery is like. You can’t guarantee the kind of birth you’ll have, but we hope that by being prepared, you’ll feel confident.”
You can either do weekly classes or a one-day workshop to learn the techniques, which you then practise at home to help you towards your birth.How Daisy Birthing helps labour
“You don’t actually learn exercises or techniques to play out in the delivery room, but we hope that what you learn makes you relaxed and able to cope when you go into labour,” says Julie. “Breathing, moving and relaxing through pregnancy means you learn to reduce adrenaline levels and understand what’s happening to you during labour.”
By being in the right mindset about it, you should be able to calmly ‘ride’ the sensations of birth rather than anticipating and struggling through them.
“It worked for me”“Daisy Birthing classes really helped me through my labour, which only took 8½ hours in total with no intervention. I used a TENS machine and had one shot of pethidine, then gave birth to Annabelle standing up – which shocked my hubby and midwife.
The breathing techniques and positions I’d learned made it a positive experience.”Amanda Brown, 31, from Suffolk, mum to Annabelle, 9 months
Based on ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture uses small needles on pressure points around the body to help boost blood and Qi energy to vital organs.
“It’s often used in the early stages of pregnancy to help with morning sickness, tiredness, anxiety and depression,” says acupuncturist midwife Sharon Yelland from the Crescent Acupuncture Clinic. “Acupuncture helps to restore the natural hormone level,” adds Sharon.
As you get closer to b-day it can be used to help prepare you for the birth by calming you, as well as inducing labour and helping the baby turn pre-delivery if she’s in a back-to-back position. How acupuncture helps labour
Acupuncture has been shown to ease labour pains and possibly reduces the need for medical intervention. Some women even have the treatment during contractions. “Acupressure – where pressure is applied to certain points – can also be used, even by your partner,” says Sharon. To find a practitioner, visit the British Acupuncture Centre.
“It worked for me”“Every time I have acupuncture I feel more energised and will definitely be using pressure points in pregnancy.”Rachael Barwood, 28, from Margate, 32 weeks pregnant
If you’re iffy about needles, you might want to try reflexology. This works in a similar way to acupuncture but focuses on pressure points in the feet. Many women go for this during pregnancy to help reduce aches and pains. Hilary Field, midwife and reflexologist from So Just Relax explains: “For every organ, muscle and so on, there’s a corresponding reflex on the hands and feet.”
If you’ve had it before getting pregnant you can carry on, otherwise it’s best to wait until 24 weeks. “Reflexology can encourage the start of labour and help get the baby into the right position,” adds Hilary. How reflexology helps labour
“Many midwives are trained in reflexology as it can be very useful if contractions stop or the placenta’s stuck,” says Hilary. “I’m often called into a labour room to get things going.”
“It worked for me”“Reflexology really helped with my swollen ankles in pregnancy and I had a short labour so it possibly helped with that, too. Holly kicked when certain pressure points were pressed so she must have liked it too!”Joanne McGahon, 33, from Reading, mum to Holly, 8 months
If you’re already a fan, you might be missing your more exciting yoga moves now you’ve got a bump! But the best thing about yoga is whether you’re a regular or not, you can embrace it in pregnancy. “There are benefits ranging from keeping you supple without strain, boosting energy, relieving stress and anxiety and promoting relaxation and good sleep,” explains yoga teacher Tammy Jones from Can U Yoga.
“Yoga can help relieve back pain, swelling and digestion as you stretch out your body, as well as strengthen the pelvic floor and opening the hips.”How yoga helps labour
We’re not talking back bends on the delivery room floor, but you can of course do stretches and breathing to help put you in a relaxed place.
Tammy explains: “Giving birth is a natural primal experience, and pregnancy yoga will help you focus around being more comfortable with that,” says Tammy. During labour you can move around on all fours, squat, and recite mantras that the baby will hear and will be comforted by. It’s about connecting with your body. It’s so easy to lose the vital mind-body connection, and yoga helps awaken that connection.”
“It worked for me”“Pregnancy yoga’s really helped ease my constipation and I’m hoping to use moves like squats and stretches during labour.”Sally Bruce, 35, from Runcorn, 28 weeks pregnant
It’s likely you’ve heard a bit about this, but before you ask, no it’s not when you’re put into a trance-like state and know nothing about the delivery. The idea is that you learn to control your breathing. You can either go to group sessions, have one-on-one training or get hypnobirthing CDs.
You’ll be taught techniques similar to yogic breathing – very slow inhalations and exhalations. “The patient learns the skill to apply it on the day,” says hypnotherapist and midwife Eleanor Copp from Relaxed Parenting.How hypnotherapy helps labour
Once you’ve mastered the hypnobirthing and visualisation techniques, you can practise them every day while you’re pregnant. The more you go to your happy zone and regulate your breathing, the more of a habit it’ll become. So on b-day, you’ll be a natural!
When you breathe deeply (as opposed to the panting you might associate with pain), you’ll relax and be more in control. “As you do that, your lungs push your diaphragm, and your diaphragm pushes your uterus,” says Eleanor. So essentially you’re learning to ‘breathe’ your baby down the birth canal.
“It worked for me”“I loved the breathing I learned through hypnobirthing, as when I did it Tallulah would kick, which reassured me. It really helped calm me during the birth, too. I found my classes through the website Fertility 2 Birth.”Natalie Brough-Darby, 29, from Suffolk, mum to Tallulah, 5 months
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