Worrying about the process of giving birth is normal for first-timers. But all the worrying and anxiety do not make the preparation for labour easier. Getting tips on what to expect in labour and delivery, however, will surely be a big help for first-time mums.
As your pregnancy progresses, you are now approaching the final part of your pregnancy, which is labour and delivery. It’s the stage that brings you both excitement and dread. You may have heard of horror stories from other mums, which make you nervous about the whole process.
But the truth is, while you cannot be assured of a perfect delivery no matter how you plan it, approaching labour with a plan is better as it makes you feel that you have some control of what’s going to happen.
Giving Birth For the First Time
According to Dr Jenny Keller, director of the residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., giving birth is a highly emotional and largely uncontrollable event, so it is important to discuss what a pregnant mother is afraid of beforehand. Having a conversation with your doctor directly may let you feel at ease and upbeat.
Also, “approaching labour with a positive mood can help you feel lesser pain, avoid C-sections, and feel satisfied with your experience”, she stated further.
To help you prepare for this big milestone in your life, we are going to discuss what to do and what to expect during your labour in this article.
Signs Your Body Is Getting Ready for Labour
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There are several signs that your body is getting ready to give birth or that labour has started. These are the following:
- a contraction or tightening
- a “show”, when the plug of the mucus from your cervix, (entrance of your womb, or uterus) goes away
- a usual urge to go to the bathroom, which is caused by your baby’s head popping out on your bowel
- your water starts to break
You need urgent medical attention if:
- your waters break
- you have vaginal bleeding
- your baby is moving more than usual
- you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and you feel you might be in labor
These signs indicate that you need to see a doctor or midwife immediately.
Labour Tips for First-Time Mums
Giving birth and labour is both exciting and terrifying for first-time moms who are anxious and looking for tips. To be fair, pregnancies differ from mother to mother. Just as your birth experience will be unique to you and your baby.
Here are the reviewed 10 tips for first-time mums who are expecting their incoming labour.
1. Labour and delivery will be like nothing you have ever experienced before.
When you remember the worst cramps that you’ve had, you may multiply it by 100. Labour feels like that.
Additionally, there is pelvic pressure, the urge to push, vomiting, pooping, sweating, and tearing. These may simultaneously happen during “what feels like forever” labour for the first time.
However, if millions or billions of women did it, you can do it, too! You just need a lot to prepare for this exciting yet exhausting event in your life as a mother.
2. Most L&D nurses are on your side.
Most labour and delivery nurses are always trying their best to give you the best labour and safest birth possible. They will also honour your wishes 100 per cent – that is, unless your doctor has different orders, mostly for you and your baby’s safety.
Labour and delivery nurses can serve as your pregnancy and labour coach, advocate, teacher, doula, your voice. And, someone who can help save you and your baby’s life if necessary.
They follow your birth plan based on your preference and scheduled date. And sometimes, they inform your birth partner and companion of your needs too.
In your 40s you will need to be monitored by your doctor much more closely.
3. Things may not go as planned.
In crucial times, babies like to act like “babies” and drop their heart rates, and make all the nurses go crazy. Sometimes, mums need to have an emergency C-section delivery even if they planned to have the most natural birth possible.
And, in the exact time that you will feel that everything is going according to plan, comes the alteration of things. Birth is not going to be the way you planned it, but as long as you and your baby are safe, then it is all good.
4. Your L&D nurses will try to tell you everything they will do, but sometimes emergencies happen.
Your nurses or midwives are all about informed consent. They will always do their best to give you some forewarning if they see something is not going as planned.
However, sometimes real emergencies happen and doctors need to perform c-section delivery without much talking. Of course, they will ask for your consent (or that of your partner’s) because it is simply against the law if they performed it without it.
5. You might not be in the best mood because you are in labour pain, but the medical staff will not take it personally.
Labour pain is no joke, and sometimes the pain turns you into that crazy woman who screams nurses and doctors. To be fair, your nurses will never take it personally because they understand it “comes with the job”.
Sometimes, mums screaming (not exactly at someone) is one of the tips that may help them to exert more force while pushing during the first time of labour.
That said, try not to scream profanities at the doctors and nursing staff. They have feelings too, and they are doing their best to help you.
How to Prepare First-Time Mums for Labour Pain
Image Source: iStock
Pain during labour is caused by contractions in the muscles of the uterus and by pressure on the cervix. This pain is similar to strong cramping in the abdomen, groin, and back, as well as an achy feeling. Some pregnant mothers experience pain in their sides or thighs as well.
To help you with labour pain, here are some things you may prepare and start doing before or during your pregnancy.
- Regular and appropriate exercise may help strengthen your muscles and prepare your body for the labour stress. Exercise can also improve your endurance, which will come in handy if you have a longer labour. The important thing to do with exercise is not to overdo it, and this is of course true if you are pregnant.
- If you and your partner attend childbirth classes, you will learn different approaches in handling pain, from visualization to stretching designed to strengthen the muscles that support your uterus.
- You may use pain medicines only as prescribed by the doctor “during” the start of your labour and delivery only.
- As early as now, you can look for natural ways to reduce the pain of contractions.
Natural ways for mums to prepare their body for the first time in labour
There are hundreds of pregnancy books on the market that are telling you this and that regarding labour. While specified things work with different people, it is a good idea to get familiarised with some of the natural ways to prepare your body for labor.
These include the following:
- Learn a few simple breathing techniques
- Create a playlist of your favourite songs
- Change positions – walk, squat, lay on your side, sit, get on all fours
- Consider having a water birth
- Moaning, not screaming out loud, helps in relieving pain
- Let your partner massage you
- Plan a well-balanced diet that is applicable to you and for your pregnancy
Pooping During Labour: Why There’s No Need to Be Embarrassed
The Complete Delivery Bag List For The Entire Family
7 Signs That Labor Is 24 To 48 Hours Away And You Must Get Ready
Exercises Preparing First-time Mums for Labour
Get your body ready for labour and delivery with some exercises recommended by doctors and researchers from MayoClinic. All of these exercises can optimise many benefits with minimal effort, and they don’t require special equipment.
But of course, confirm with your doctor that you don’t have any limitations before you attempt any of these exercises on the list.
This is an exercise that strengthens and stretches muscles in your back, thighs, and pelvis, and may improve your posture. It also keeps your pelvic joints flexible, optimises blood flow to your lower body, and eases labour and delivery.
Sit on the floor with your back straight in the butterfly position (the bottoms of your feet tucked together and your knees dropped comfortably). As you press both knees slowly into the floor using your elbows, you may feel a stretch in your inner thighs.
The pelvic floor muscles help in supporting the pelvic organs which are the uterus, bladder, and bowels. If you tone them you may ease many discomforts of late pregnancy such as haemorrhoids
and urine leakage.
Try to stop the flow of urine when you are sitting on the toilet bowl without tightening your abdominal, buttock, or thigh muscles. When you successfully start and stop urinating, or you feel the vaginal muscle contract, you are using the pelvic floor muscle. This is the muscle that should be contracting during Kegel exercises.
Pelvic tilts strengthen abdominal muscles, supports in relieving backache during pregnancy and labour, and ease delivery. This exercise can also develop the flexibility of your back, and ward off back pain
You may do this pelvic tilt in various positions, but down on your hands and knees is the easiest way to learn it. Get comfortable with your hands and knees keeping your head aligned with your back.
Image Source: iStock
It is only natural to feel excitement and anxiety for your first time giving birth, and reading our labour tips for first-time mums can be of big help. Relax, mum. Everything will be okay. But if you’re looking for more guidance on what to do on your big day, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor about it.
This article was written by Nathanielle Torre and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
Updates by Camille Eusebio
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