So a few of my friends are pregnant or have recently given birth and I’ve found so many of them asking the same questions as I did when pregnant. How on earth does it work? Can I do this? Can I handle the pain? Oh god why did I get myself into this?
Whilst it’s said no pregnancy is the same, the same can be said for delivery and beyond. Everyone I’ve met or spoken to has wildly different stories to tell, some pretty standard, some lovely, some beyond belief and some I wouldn’t wish on anyone ever. But ultimately everyone got through it. Women are warriors you know!
So just what can you do?
Labour scares the s**t out of me!
Hypnobirthing courses are a great way to remove the fear associated with birth. It’s a well known fact that if you fear and expect pain then you’ll feel it more than if you embrace it. Despite what some crazy people say labour does fricking hurt, but fearing the pain for months before your due date isn’t going to help anyone.
I personally found hypnobirthing as a great way to eliminate any fear I had around labour and the birth (and trust me there was a lot! I spent weeks panicking and researching all pain relief available). I opted for a 1 day course with Inbal from ISIS Hypnobirthing in Amsterdam which completely transformed my pregnancy. Within a few hours I went from being petrified to excited, I couldn’t wait to experience the surges that would bring my baby to me.
There is quite a lot of homework and prep beyond the course which to be honest I didn’t really do, so I could have benefited even more than I did.
I have no idea what I’d going to do!
I did a Birthlite yoga workshop with Corine from Yoga Yatra towards the end of my pregnancy which I found brilliant and really practical. We again covered the science of how babies are born but also lots of techniques to get through each of the surges/contractions.
The workshop covered breathing techniques, specific postures and movements for contractions, different massages partners can do to help, at one point Corine even pinches your arm to simulate what a contraction feels like and how to breath through it.
I loved this course and so did Ben, we ended up using most of the techniques practiced in the class, right through to the final birth position… Don't worry I don't go into details in this post :)
But what about tearing!
Ok so this was what I feared most, surely it hurts like hell if you tear during childbirth? Well quite frankly you don’t even notice, seriously, it got me pretty bad and I didn’t notice at all.
As it was something I was worried about though I did lots of research and bought an Epi-No online. It’s widely used in Germany and is proved to significantly reduce your chances of tearing.
It’s not pretty and doesn’t feel amazing to do but it really does work! I’ll not go into details but have a read through the description and some reviews to see if it’s right for you.
Ok but what pain relief is out there??
So as we’re in the Netherlands most of your labour will be at home so we won’t talk hard drugs here…
The courses above will teach you about natural forms of pain relief, massage etc but in addition to that there are things you can do at home.
Water, yep it’s on everyone’s list because it works. Back labour pain isn’t fun but standing under a nice strong shower directed at your back can do wonders. Water can really get you through a lot of the early labour pains pretty easily. If you're lucky enough to have a bath and your waters haven't broken, jump right in! (Just not too hot or for long periods of time, I got a little dehydrated late in the labour for this reason).
A TENs machine can be your best friend during labour. I had both back and front labour pains so this only helped with the back but nethertheless it was still super effective. Both as pain relief but also giving me something to focus on. Mine was specific for labour and so tracked the duration and frequency of my contractions. I had that thing strapped to my back for a good 14 hours!
Depending on your insurance you can also claim back any costs for this so it's really worth a try.
Moving, sitting or laying. It’s different for everyone. I found my contractions were stronger when I walked around so I didn’t move as much as I’d wanted to. In hindsight I bit of pacing may have sped up my 23 hour labour.
Yes talk to your friends, midwives, anyone who is aligned to you. I had some very unhelpful comments about labour, some telling me it hurt like hell, people telling it's not so bad. You'll know what you need to hear so just avoid talking about it with others.
- Eat and drink! I forgot to drink water for about 10 hours so ended up on a drip. Stock up on healthy and unhealthy snacks
- A gym ball is your best friend during late pregnancy and labour, get a specific anti pop one to be safe.
- Make sure your partner is as prepared as you and knows what you want. When things start getting wild they will be your rock
- Try not to hate your midwife, it's inevitable at some point during labour but when it comes to a head (literally) do exactly as she says. Especially if she tells you to stop pushing, there is a vital reason they do that which I unfortunately found when I completely ignored her
Finally, stay positive, birth is a wild experience but it's really a very short space of time and you will get through it.
Birth, new mums, pregnancy, birth tips, baby, labour, courses, Amsterdam, Netherlands