10 top tips from mums for an easier labour

Every mum-to-be worries about labour, so take some reassurance and advice from those who have been there before… other mums

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1) ‘I wanted to find the quickest, most effective pain relief with the least chance of side effects, so opted for a mobile epidural. This numbed the contractions for me, but I could still feel my legs. I felt relaxed and had no problems knowing when to push.’ Karen Williamson, mum to Jack, three months

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2) ‘I thought of every single contraction as being one step closer to seeing my baby. That thought alone mentally got me through labour.’ Liz Cooper, mum to Max, five, and Charlie, two

3) ‘I wrote a separate birth plan for my husband Dave, so he didn’t sit around not knowing what to do or say. He was brilliant – he filled the pool, made snacks for everyone and even had a CD of my favourite music ready.’ Sara Knee, mum to Sophie, two, and Charlie, five months

4) ‘I tried gas and air, a birthing pool and eventually had an epidural resulting in a forceps delivery. I hadn’t set my heart on a water birth or an unassisted delivery – when I needed extra help at the end I was just glad to have my baby delivered safely.’ Kerry Greene, mum to Barney, eight months

5) ‘If you’re having a home birth, have a waterproof sheet such as a groundsheet or shower curtain to protect your floor, and lots of old pillows or blankets to lean against. Get your partner to return calls every so often, otherwise the phone never stops ringing – which can be a distraction when you’re trying to push the baby out!’ Stephany Bardzil, mum to Jack, six, and Emily, three (now runs an NCT home birth support group in Bath)

6) ‘The day before I had my second Caesarean I had cranial osteopathy to realign my hips, which had shifted out of shape during pregnancy. I felt like it prepared my body and helped me to heal more quickly. Because I knew I was having a Caesarean, I had a set of homeopathic remedies to take before, immediately afterwards, and in the week afterwards.’ Annie Connor, mum to Josh, seven, and Mhairi, two

7) ‘I held my husband’s hand and tapped it with my thumb, then each finger in turn while slowly counting to five. I then took a slow breath in and out and focused on relaxing my shoulders. I repeated this with the next breath, focused on relaxing my hips, and so on, relaxing my legs on the third breath, my feet on the fourth, and on the fifth breath I imagined myself floating. It helped me focus and relax through the contractions.’ Sarah Richardson, mum to Freddie, four, and Chloe, two weeks

8) ‘Instead of thinking about how many contractions there had been or how many more there might be, I tried to deal with one at a time. I thought of each one as a wave, and I relaxed as it receded.’ Siobhan Mason, mum to Milo, two, and Amber, seven months

9) ‘I took Rescue Remedy – a flower essence said to comfort and reassure – when contractions got really strong, to keep me calm.’ Melanie Wickham, mum to James, two, and Edie, seven months

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10) ‘With gas and air, let the mouthpiece hang loosely and breathe in deeply from your stomach. This made such a difference – it flooded my bloodstream in seconds.’ Debbie Horridge, mum to Gaby, five, Evie, three, and Lexie, nine month

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