Rotterdam birth photographer

How can I prepare my body for labour pain?

We all have an idea in our head about how labour and birth might be.

You might have gotten these ideas from watching movies, or maybe from talking to friends and family who’ve had kids.  Or you might have already started doing your research and have an idea of what to expect based on what you found on the internet. 

The reality is this:  Labour and birth can be painful.  And yes, we can choose to call it uncomfortable pressure or unease, but the fact remains that it is something to think about and something to prepare for. 

We all experience pain in different ways, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer here.  But the good news is that you have options.  Many, many options, regardless of whether you are going for a natural or medicated birth.   

In this blog post, I will be going through 6 ways that you can already prepare and train your body and mind for labour. Setting and managing expectations play a big role in how you experience labour and birth.  

Childbirth Education Classes

Knowing how labour and birth work helps set expectations. Childbirth Education classes not only help with setting expectations, but you also learn different ways in managing these expectations. Group classes are great if you also want to meet some other families that are at the same stage in their life as you are. 

You can join a Childbirth Education Group class in your area, or you can opt for one-on-one lessons, depending on your needs.  One-on-one lessons are perfect if you want the classes to be tailored specifically to you. 

Traditionally, Childbirth Education classes are done face to face, but with the world always changing there are also a lot of online options available these days. Click here to have a look at the online packages that I offer. 

Hire a Doula

Not only does a doula spend hours with you and your partner during pregnancy to prepare you for your labour and birth, but she will also be there during birth, supporting you in many different ways. A doula hits the sweet spot between a professional and a trustee in the birth room. She has built a relationship with the couple during pregnancy, and understands their desires and fears, but she can keep a cool mind when unexpected things happen and play an important role in keeping both the birthing person and her partner focused in times of uncertainty.  

Check out my doula packages here 

Conscious Breathing

This might sound obvious, but it is important to do breathing exercises during your pregnancy, so that your body automatically knows what to do once labour starts. Controlled breathing exercises can also be combined with meditation. Moving your pelvis while counting your breaths means that once you start getting contractions, your body will automatically start breathing the way you trained and help you maintain a state of calm. 

Affirmations

Our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviours. Pick a few affirmation phrases that you repeat to yourself daily during your pregnancy. This will already start having positive effects on your feelings and behaviour even before you go into labour. You can also choose the same, or separate affirmations to repeat to yourself during labour and birth. Share your affirmations with your birth team. This way you are telling them the words that will have the best effect on you, and they can work with you through your labour and birth. 

Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing is a combination of Childbirth Education, breathing, relaxation and affirmation. You prepare your body and mind for labour and birth by practicing breathing and relaxation techniques to help put you in a state of calm. You are not actually hypnotizing yourself. You learn how to cut yourself off from what is going on around you and focus on your body. Some doula’s also include hypnobirthing in their services.  

Environment

Picture this. It’s the middle of winter. It’s been cold and miserable outside, and it’s been days since the sun came out. This is having an effect on your mood. How do you cheer yourself up? 

I burn my scented candles. Maybe I’ll choose to burn my cinnamon and vanilla candle, the smell makes me feel cozy. I make myself a cup of hot chocolate, maybe even add a few mini marshmallows if I feel like it. I cuddle up under the warm blanket that my grandma crocheted for me. And I’m watching comedy or detective series on tv, depending on my mood... Just typing all of this puts a smile on my face.  

Just like I know how to make myself happy and comfortable on a bad winter’s day; you can also think about what will make you feel safe and happy during labour and birth – even if you are giving birth in a hospital. Take some time to think about it. What would you like to smell? What would you like to hear? Do you have sentimental items you'd like to have with you? Make a list of these things and have them ready for your home birth or pack them in your hospital bag for a hospital birth. Also make sure that your birth team knows what you want, so they can set it up for you as your labour starts. 

These are just 6 of many ways that you can already start to prepare yourself for labour and birth.  Think about it like this.  If you plan to run a marathon, it is not only important that you educate yourself about what it takes to run a marathon, it is also important that you actually train your body for the marathon.  You can read all the books in the world and have all the answers to all the questions, but if you are not going to go out and start running, the marathon will be nearly impossible to finish. Labour can take anything between 12 hour and 48 hours.  It is important that you train your mind and body for this, so that you are not only mentally but also physically strong enough to give it your best.