Labour advice from our midwife

Our experienced midwife shares her top tips on everything from what to pack in your hospital bag to how to deal with after-birth pain

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Essentials for your birth bag

  • A hand mirror so you can watch your baby emerging.
  • A flannel so you or your birth partner can mop your forehead when you’re feeling hot and bothered.
  • Sweets and sports drinks to keep your energy levels up while you’re in the delivery room.
  • An MP3 players to block out distracting sounds coming from the labour ward.
  • A carrier bag so your husband or partner can take home all your dirty laundry!
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Ways to breathe easy in labour

  • Practise 7/11 breathing. Breathe in for the count of 7 and out for the count of 11.
  • Relax with a long breath out, a bit like sighing, as you sink into a chair at the end of the day.
  • Hold a piece of ice in your hand and try to breathe through the discomfort.
  • Try to ‘breathe your baby out’, rather than actively pushing in the second stage of labour.
  • Don’t hold your breath. It’s easy to do when you’re feeling tense, so get your partner to remind you.

Ways to encourage a shorter labour

  • Keep fit during pregnancy. Exercise can help build up stamina and make labour more straightforward.
  • Drink raspberry leaf tea after 36 weeks of pregnancy. Evidence suggests it can speed things up.
  • Walk around during labour as this encourages your baby to move down and helps to keep contractions coming.
  • Don’t be too quick to go for an epidural if you’re coping well. It can make labour last longer.
  • Pace yourself on b-day. If you get too exhausted, your contractions will slow down.
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Ways to ease after-birth pains

  • Think positive. Your uterus is naturally contracting and shrinking back down to its pre-pregnancy size.
  • Take paracetamol, even if you’re breastfeeding. Your baby’s suckling stimulates contractions.
  • Go to the loo regularly. A full bladder means your uterus can’t contract as well as it should.
  • Pop a hot water bottle on your tummy, or a wheat bag warmed in the microwave.
  • Soak in a warm bath, Water is a great pain reliever and will help you relax.

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