If you are pregnant, you know you will be in labour very soon. So how have you prepared yourself for the D-day? I am sure you must have packed your hospital bag for delivery, instructed the domestic help and engaged a nanny for your first born, and would have asked your birthing partner (your husband, friend or family member) to expect your call anytime. That’s good work. However, do you know what to do when contractions start or what to do during contractions. Here are 10 useful things to do when contractions start.
Be sure it’s labour: There is something called Braxton hicks contractions which is nothing but false labour contractions and you might confuse it for the actual labour. Well, Braxton hicks is not as painful as the real labour pains and they subside soon, while the real contractions come at regular intervals and they only get more painful over time. Also, with real labour some might experience water break and bloody show.
Do not hurry to the hospital: I made this mistake and had to stay at the hospital for 8 hours before my baby arrived. I tell you staying at home would have been more comfortable. In some cases, the hospital staff sends you back home, which can be frustrating.
If you stay close to the hospital, do not be in a hurry to reach there at the first signs of labour. Just call up the hospital and inform them about your situation. They will guide you further.
There are many things to do while in labour at home. You can shower and be comfortable, nourish yourself well, rest and relax and take care of last minute chores.
Take a shower: I had labour pains the whole night. In the morning, when I brushed my teeth, took a warm shower and dressed comfortably, believe me, I felt better. The contractions were manageable too for a while post shower. However, take a shower only if the contractions are not too painful.
Eat and drink well: You need strength to go through the labour (labour can last for hours) and push the baby, hence focus on eating well. Eat energy providing foods like porridge, wheat flour/nachni halwa, nuts and seeds for snacks and drink warm water, coconut water and juice.
Now, this is where staying at home as long as possible during labour helps. If you are in the hospital, the staff will provide you the fixed meal. I remember getting roti and subzi which I was in no mood to eat. If at home, you can eat pretty much whatever you feel like.
And don’t avoid eating because you are worried about pooping. It’s normal to poop during normal delivery, doctors are used to it.
Walk: Sitting in one position is not comfortable. My OB/GYN had advised me to walk during contractions. And walk I did. I walked and moved around the maternity ward and stood against the wall whenever the contractions hit me and once they subsided, I continued walking.
Ask someone to massage: Most first-time mothers wonder how to reduce labour pain during pregnancy. Contractions can be pretty intense. They are focused on the lower back. I asked my mother and mother in law to massage during contractions. It helped. You can even take a heating pad or a hot water bottle to soothe the area.
Keep yourself busy and comfortable: Labour can last for a long time. I was in labour for 17 hours, while I have heard of cases where the lady was in labour for more than 24 hours.
Early contractions give you breathing space. So you can sleep for a while, but remember it is more of a restless kind of sleep. I had carried a book with me, but I was not in the mood to read. Watching TV would certainly help. So would listening to music and talking to your baby.
Make a choice: You might have decided to go for a medicine-free delivery, but labour pains are not everyone’s cup of tea and there is no shame in accepting it. Labour pain only intensifies with time. If you feel you will not be able to cope with it, you can opt for medicated birth and take an epidural.
Focus on your breathing: As the labour contractions get intense, relaxing techniques that you might have learnt during childbirth classes would come in handy. I had not signed up for any childbirth classes, but I practised meditation and focused on deep breathing during labour, and that was a big comfort.
Be surrounded with positive people: At this crucial time in your life, you need good and positive support. You don’t need to listen to horror stories about how someone got a vaginal tear or how painful the whole birthing process is. If you have such a person in the labour room, ask them to leave. It’s your day and you should be comfortable with the people around you.
I will tell you an interesting anecdote. While I was in labour, my husband was on his phone and thinking aloud whether he should have a chicken sub or a pizza. I was so frustrated at that I yelled at him,” I am in pain and all you can think of is food.”
The same goes for you. Be positive. You are going to give birth and hold your baby for the first time very soon. Just go with the flow, your body knows what to do.
A few handy tips that will help you when contractions start:
- If possible and if you are not squirmy about it, shave your pubic hair before you go to the hospital. If not, the hospital staff will take care of it.
- Some women smell essential oils for their calming, soothing and relaxing properties. I would recommend lavender, chamomile and peppermint. Inhale it directly or put on a wet washcloth and place on your forehead, back, neck or legs.
- On the other hand, you will feel uncomfortably hot too. Ask someone to put cold compress to your face and neck.
Hope you found these 10 useful things to do when contractions start helpful. Do write to me if I have been unclear or if you would like to know more. Also, I would love to hear about your birthing experience too. Do share!