Trust your body
It is time to trust your body and surrender to the birthing process. Here are some helpful birthing tips to guide you:
- Tell yourself, “My body is designed to give birth”.
- Set the scene in the birthing room with low lighting, candles, quietness or soft music and warmth – a sacred, nurturing space.
- Breathe deeply and slowly.
- Rest in between contractions: relaxing the whole body as if taking a nap.
- Visualize your baby working too, wriggly down to come into your arms. Connect to your baby: talk and feel the love and excitement of seeing your baby soon.
- Trust your unique birthing process, however it may unfold and turn out. Do the best you can.
- Remember to ask for loving massages; hot and cold face washes and towels on the abdomen and lower back; and support.
- Follow your intuition, stay in the present, what feels like the right thing to do?
- Your birth is unique; forget the text books and friend’s stories and advice. Move and be present with your own impulses, intuitions and feelings; they are guiding your unique birthing process.
- Visualise the sea: the wave breaking and than a pause.
- Stay hydrated: sip on water between contractions.
- Take the remedies given by your naturopath or homeopath for labour.
- Use aromatherapy oils to soothe and inspire and flower essences to heal the emotions at this time (if available to you).
- Remember to speed up your labour with active birth positions assisted by gravity. Move into positions which are comfortable for you.
- Use emersion in water to ease the contractions. Wait until nearing transition stage: being too relaxed in water can slow the labour down.
- Try to relax into the birthing process as much as possible. Be in the moment and lose control to your body’s intelligence.
- Connect with your partner, and midwife or doula.
Make sure the birthing woman’s mind is free from fearful and negative thoughts. The mind will affect the birthing body! Being free from fear will aid a quick and natural birth. Create a relaxing atmosphere; this will truly support the birthing mother. Relaxation creates a less painful labour and liberates the birthing mother to be in her power to birth naturally. A relaxed birthing body assists the release of endorphins: Oxytocin, the love hormone is present during natural labours.
It is important to create a safe space for the birthing woman. This quiet, dark and intimate setting will allow her to get in touch with her inner power and wisdom. Ideally the birthing room should include; soft lighting, a lovely warmth, limited distractions and conversations, and no unknown visitors. There could be access to music, candles, and anything that helps to creative a positive environment for the birthing woman to feel relaxed. Think about the environment you like to make love in, the same could be said for giving birth, it is a very intimate experience!
Create a warm environment regardless of your choice of location, you can create a positive birth environment by adapting the hospital room if need be. Alice’s – my midwife friend’s -advice is to ignore the bed. Wheel it to the far side of the room if possible! Place down mats, a physio-ball, and bean bags. Most hospitals will have these but you should enquire before the birth. Dim the lights and pull the curtains. Remember that animals go to a warm, dark place to give birth! To feel safe and secure enhances the birth experience and allows for a quicker and less painful birth. Alice encourages women to bring their own pillow – much more comfortable than plastic covered hospital ones – and lovely for birthing women, during and after the birth. Create a safe, positive (and less medicalised) atmosphere. This will provide an ideal environment for the birthing woman’s hormones to do their job.
Endorphins are hormones produced by the body in labour to provide natural pain relief. The hormone ‘oxytoxin’ is known as the love hormone. It is essential for contractions. If a birthing woman is feeling scared, her adrenalin can override the oxytoxin hormone. In fact, feeling really frightened can at times stop the contractions completely. This is the connection between the mind, emotions and body and why it is so important for the birthing woman to feel relaxed. Birth is a natural process; this is a fundamental understanding for a positive birth experience.
Alice’s advice is to set the scene for a relaxed birth and to make sure that the support team surrounding the birthing woman has trust in the birthing process. To have loving, confident support people can impact the birth in a very positive manner. If choosing a family member or friend, have they had children and was their birthing experience positive?
Any position whilst in labour
To achieve a natural birth it is best that the birthing woman is empowered to move and express herself freely. This means to make noises, ask for support, be in any position, and have access to water, where possible. Just look at the position of lying on your back with your legs up, it goes against gravity; it does not make any sense at all! Alice encourages birthing women to use the shower and bath and to stay upright and active during labour. If rest is needed go to bed, just do not stay there! Lying down while in labour can create more painful contractions and slows down the labour. An active, upright labour can decrease labour time by forty percent! Positions include, straddling a chair, leaning again a wall, leaning over a table, bed or bed bag, squatting on a birth stool (or toilet), and walking up and down
Janet Balaskas states:
Most studies reported that when upright and moving….the first and second stages of labour were shorter (some comparable studies showed they were over 40 per cent shorter in the upright group).
Other active, upright labour benefits include:
The dilation or opening of the cervix (the neck of the uterus) was more efficient. The women felt greater comfort, less stress and pain and so there was a decreased requirement for analgesics. There was a lower incidence of foetal distress in labour and improved condition of the newborn. Women felt they were contributing something to their labour and felt relieved from the boredom and degradation of lying down connected to equipment.
Natural pain relief options
- Water immersion: most hospitals now have a bath but they may not have a water birth policy. It is advisable to wait until the labour is developed and intense (transition and second stage) to immerse your self in a birth pool. Running a shower or bath can help in the early stages.
- Heat: (bring in your own wheat bags or gel packs and hot water bottles to a hospital setting) have someone place these on your lower abdomen and lower back. If in a hospital setting, check whether your location is happy to heat wheat packs for you before hand.
- Movement and positions: remember to practice positions for an active labour and change positions until you are comfortable to be present in the contraction and to relax deeply in-between.
- Massage: take in the oils recommended in ‘Naturopathic Tips’ for this chapter or from the resource section and receive massages on the abdomen and lower back (either during or after a contraction).
- Breathing: centre on the breath, breathing deeply and slowly during a contraction. Take the advice of your midwife for breathing tips if short of breath or holding your breath, and for the pushing and crowning stage. A relaxed mouth means a relaxed vagina! Relaxed breathing equals a relaxed body.
- Hold on to a loved ones hand or body and look into their eyes for support.
- Visualization: centre on a comforting image during contraction. Your cervix opening for your baby to come through (pain with meaning), or sail away imagining the waves rolling and breaking on the beach and then a pause.
- Bush flower essences can provide great comfort whilst birthing, see the suggested essences at the end of this chapter.
- A tens machine can be hired from the hospital or chemist. See if this option appeals to you.
- Humour: Alice reminds everyone that humour is a great pain relief. It is impossible to laugh and tense at the same time!
Natural pain relief methods will not interfere with the powerful birthing hormones. They have no side effects and enhance rather than reduce the mother and baby’s healthy birth outcomes.
What to get ready for the birth
The items with a * next to them require discussion with your venue option, do they have these items available? The rest of the list you will need to bring in yourself.
Massage oil and aromatherapy oils for birthing
Herbs and homeopathics specific to birthing given by your naturopath/homeopath
Wheat bags to heat or hot water bottles * (can you heat these up?)
Face washes to make hot or cold
Plant spray bottle with cold water, to spray the face (perhaps with one or two drops of lavender oil in it)
Australian Bush Flower essences for birthing
Yoga mat, to use to squat on*
Water to drink and light snacks
Cup with a straw for easy sipping in between contractions
Ice cubes ready to suck on
Food and drink for support staff
Camera, with plenty of film and the batteries charged up!
Arnica 30c for after the birth, Australian Bush Flower Emergency Essence, or Bach’s Rescue Remedy
Pads for bleeding after the birth and perhaps more ice!
If going to hospital or a birthing centre, then remember to have your bags packed with clothes, nightclothes, toiletries, Medicare card, a list of phone numbers for announcements and parking money. I advise to take your favourite drinks and snacks/food. I felt starving after birthing for twenty four hours and was told I had to wait another four hours until breakfast was served in the hospital!
If birthing at home, add to this list:
Water birthing pool (set up near a water supply)
Heater (lovely to heat baby clothes on)
Towels and sheets
 Balaskas, Janet; New Active Birth. HarperCollinsPublishers, London, 1989, p.10 and p.11.
 Balaskas, Janet; New Active Birth. HarperCollins Publishers, London, 1989, p.10 and p.11.