10 top tips from medical experts for an easier labour

If you’re stressing about labour, then read these tips from medical boffins to help give you a positive birth experience

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1) ‘It’s common for there to be concerns about the baby’s heart rate or whether your labour is progressing appropriately, but this doesn’t mean you won’t have a normal delivery. If you don’t understand, ask!’ Professor Jane Norman, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Glasgow University (www.wellbeingofwomen.org.uk)

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2) ‘Very few Caesareans are dire emergencies, so there is usually time for a discussion. Not all Caesareans are clearly necessary, and there may be other options available.’ Gina Lowdon, The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (www.aims.org.uk)

3) ‘If you have a Caesarean, you can still have many of the things women hope for with a vaginal birth. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. A few women have even lifted the baby out themselves.’ Debbie Chippington-Derrick, co-author of Caesarean Birth

4) ‘You may feel discomfort if your baby is descending in the wrong position, and if you change position you may help to shift him. Relieving your bladder your baby’s descent, too.’ Dr Anne Deans, author of Your Pregnancy Bible

5) ‘Avoiding induction of labour or an epidural will give you the best chance of delivering without forceps, ventouse or a Caesarean.’ Dr Philip Owen, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Princess Royal Maternity Unit, Glasgow

6) ‘Realise that you can’t always control labour. Planning is a great idea, but if you’ve planned a home birth, you may still end up needing to go into hospital, and even if you’ve planned a Caesarean you could end up having your baby on the living room floor.’ Dr Catti Moss, spokesperson for the Royal College of GPs

7) ‘If you are having strong, long and frequent contractions, even if they vary a lot in length and the time between them, don’t wait for them to become “regular” before heading to the hospital. They could be as regular as they’re going to get.’ Heidi Murkoff, co-author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting

8) ‘If you feel afraid in the first stage of labour, let your supporters know so they can reassure you: contractions may be hindered if you’re tense. Fear in the second stage, however, can help your progress, because adrenaline boosts your energy.’ Dr Yehudi Gordon, obstetrician and author of Birth and Beyond

9) ‘Many women find that warm water helps them to relax and cope with pain. If you haven’t got access to a pool, try lying on your side in the bath with towels for support, or sit on a stool in the shower.’ Gillian Fletcher, antenatal tutor and former president of the NCT

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10) ‘Talk to your partner about whether you both want him to be at the birth, or whether you want your mum or sister to be there instead of – or as well as – him. Having good support encourages the release of endorphins

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