So you've got to give birth on the Labour Ward?

Wave goodbye to hypnobirthing and a positive birth then right? WRONG! If being on the Labour Ward feels like a safe and positive choice for you, then there is PLENTY you can do to make it positive.

It’s true that for uncomplicated pregnancies, simply being on a labour ward increases your chances of intervention (epidurals, instrumental birth and c-sections, *Birth Place Study 2011), so if your pregnancy is considered ‘low risk’, it might make a lot of sense to choose Home or a Birth Centre instead. But lets face it, for a lot of us, there are other factors to consider when choosing our place of birth; and whilst in many instances, even if we are facing a more complex pregnancy we can still give birth at home or on a birth centre; we may decide that actually for our personal circumstances, we feel safest on the Labour Ward.

So what exactly can we do?

  • One of the reasons things tend to be more straight forward at home or in a birth centre, is all due to the hormones that are involved in birth. In order for our birth hormones to remain in balance we need to feel SAFE, RELAXED and UNOBSERVED- so a home from home environment is KEY! This room is YOURS for the duration of your labour, so make a nest, a den, a spa, a home, whatever makes it yours! Bring your own pillow, blanket, essential oils, fairy lights, photos, music!

  • The minute you get into that labour ward room, turn off the lights! Our bodies produce melatonin in the dark! Melatonin aids oxytocin in labour, increasing the strength of surges and optimising what’s going on physiologically! We are also more likely to feel unobserved in a dark room, aiding oxytocin production too!

  • STAY OFF THE BED (Unless you really need a snooze!). Welcoming couples into the labour room (whether in labour or not) over the past few years, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a mum not get straight on the bed. It’s default- you’re the one being ‘looked after’, so you’re the one to ‘get on the bed’. Laying on your back during labour makes the descent for your baby more difficult (You’re basically asking them to move up hill), increases the likelihood of tearing and usually makes labour far more uncomfortable for you. So either push that bed right out of the way, or ask your midwife to help you make best use of it (It can be moved into some wild and wonderful positions!) The video below from Midwife Clemmie Hooper (Mother of Daughters) demonstrates how to do this well.

  • Remain mobile. Following on from the ‘get off the bed’ idea, listening to your instincts in choosing your birth positions is key. Even if you have an epidural you still want gravity on your side and to be ‘moving’ often to aid baby’s descent. (More on positive birth with an epidural here)

  • Ask for things from the birth centre! If your hospital has a birth centre attached, most midwives would be happy to fetch you a floor mat, a birth stool or a ball from the birth centre (if the labour ward don’t already have these things). Most labour wards will also have a room with a pool in, which it’s worth requesting if it’s available!

  • Hypnobirthing. Now more than ever the relaxation tools of hypnobirthing preparation are going to be your BEST FRIEND! Pop you positive affirmations up around the room, read or play your relaxation scripts, and utilise your breathing techniques. For info on hypnobirthing courses with me, click here.

Image kindly shared by total super mummy (and Positively Birthing client) Bianca :)

Image kindly shared by total super mummy (and Positively Birthing client) Bianca :)

  • Wireless Monitoring! ‘Telemetry’. If for whatever reason your baby needs to be monitored throughout labour, this kind of CTG monitoring can be used in water and also allows you to remain more mobile since you’re not attached to a machine with wires! Dont forget to ask them to turn down the monitor if the ‘beeping’ is distracting.

  • Avoid ‘coached pushing’ where possible. Coached Pushing is when a midwife or doctor tells you ‘when and how’ to push and is associated with lower apgar scores for baby and a higher incidence of tearing. As long as both mum and baby are showing signs that they are healthy then there is no need to ‘speed’ up the second stage of labour, let your instinct guide you during the second stage.

  • Finally, be involved in the decision making! Taking control of your choices in labour can be transformational in how you feel about it from an emotional perspective. Nothing should be ‘done to you’, but ‘with you’ or ‘for you’. My tips on taking control here.

So, if you planning your birth on a labour ward (or even if you’re not), I hope some of these tips come in handy when preparing for a positive birth experience. For even MORE tips for a positive birth, have a look at the blog or get in touch about upcoming courses in Surrey, SW London and surrounding areas.

If you are interested in taking the next step to a positive birth, Positively Birthing Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Classes run throughout Surrey and SW London- areas including Surbiton, Esher, Teddington, Cobham, TwickenhamSt Margarets, Thames Ditton, Molesey, Richmond, Wimbledon, Kingston, Sunbury, Epsom, Ewell, and beyond. All bookings can be made here.