Coping with Labour

What will labour feel like?

While you are pregnant, you may feel your uterus (womb) tightening from time to time. These tightenings are called Braxton Hicks contractions. When you go into labour, these tightenings become regular and much stronger. The tightening may cause pain that feels like period pain and usually becomes more painful the further you get into labour.
Different women experience labour pains in different ways. Usually, your first labour will be the longest. If medication is used to start off (induce) labour or speed up your labour, your contractions may be more painful. 90% women use a range of pain relief ways to cope with labour pain. It is a good idea to have an open minded and be flexible.

Preparing for labour

Antenatal parenting classes, run by our midwives may be helpful for you to prepare for the birth. The classes will help you understand what will happen in labour and may help you to feel less anxious.

The midwife will tell you what is available to reduce labour pain. If you need more information about epidurals (an injection into your back to numb the lower half of your body), the midwife can arrange for you to meet an Anaesthetist at our Anaesthetic Clinic to discuss various aspects of this procedure.

If you cannot go to antenatal classes, you should still ask your midwife about what is available to support you. You can then discuss this with the midwife who cares for you while you are in labour.Where you choose to give birth can affect how well you cope/deal with labour pain. If you feel at ease in the place you give birth, you may be more relaxed and less anxious about labour. For some women this means giving birth at home, but other women feel reassured by the support offered at the hospital.

If you are planning to give birth in our hospital, it may be helpful to look round before hand. Many of our antenatal classes offer a tour as part of the class and if you are between 16 – 28 weeks pregnant we invite you to attend our ‘Your Pregnancy Matters’ event. Details on how to book are on the front page of the website.

How to cope when labour begins

At the beginning of labour Rest and Relax as much as you are able to, Rehydrate regularly to support your bodies ability to labour.  Reposition yourself regularly to keep yourself comfortable and seek Reassurance from us and your birth partners/support.

As your labour develops and your contractions become stronger, longer and more regular:

  • Walk and move around if you feel like it
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat little and often, even if you don’t feel hungry
  • Use your breathing excercises as your contractions get stronger and more regular
  • Having your birth partner rub or give you a light stroking massage over your back can help with contractions and be very reassuring.

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