Part of Birthing Without Fear is Trusting Your Instincts - Brande Holm
I often hear the mothers-to-be in MaterniTea at Spice Harmony Yoga remind themselves, and each other, of one simple truth - Their bodies know exactly what to do. In preparation for labour this is an important mantra, a balm for inevitable anxieties. Taking time to nurture yourself and learn about the process can also reinforce confidence as you head towards labour and delivery.
In 2015, after offering a few prenatal yoga workshops, I partnered with pregnancy educator and retired Midwife, Rawlda George, to offer something more holistic through MaterniTea. We co-host these Saturday afternoon sessions for expecting mamas (and papas) a couple times each year. We share knowledge about each stage of pregnancy, labour, delivery and postpartum health. Participants practice breathing and gentle postures to strengthen and stretch their bodies for labour, and even partner-assisted movements to support them during labour.
As a newly trained doula (birth companion), this series is one of my favourite projects. I'm writing this post as I prepare for another cycle of MaterniTea starting soon. There are almost no other resources for expecting parents in Grenada, so I figured I should share some of the knowledge coming out of this amazing series here. Check out the list of five simple things that can bring comfort during labour and if a baby isn't on your horizon, share with your pregnant loved-ones.
5 Everyday Things for Comfort During Labour!
During the last cycle of MaterniTea I introduced the latest addition to my doula bag, a big blue exercise ball. It was a hit! The mamas-to-be even took turns sitting on it during our discussion sessions because swaying and gently bouncing helped reduce stiffness and tension. That same feeling of fluidity can be great during labour. You can also get on your knees and essentially hug the ball, your head resting, as you rock from side to side. *Note* It is helpful to bring a sheet to put on the hospital floor underneath the ball and a cushion or yoga mat for kneeling. Also always make sure you have a wall, bed or person near by to avoid falling.
Hot & Cold
Most of us know that some pains feel better with ice and other aches favour heat. Since the range of discomforts that can occur during labour are vast (to say the least), be prepared by bringing an ice pack and a heating pad. If you don't have those lying around you can walk with a ziplock bag that you can ask to be fill with ice at the hospital. During my doula training last summer we filled a sock with uncooked rice and tied it to make a DIY heating pad that can be warmed up in the microwave and has a weightiness that can feel good resting on sore shoulders or an achy back.
Try this one right now. Grab a rolling pin in your kitchen and ask the nearest person to roll it up and down on your lower back. For most this feels amazing. It is a gentle massage that can bring some much needed relief during back labour.
Massage Oil or Lotion
Massage, oh massage. When is a massage not a good idea? During a feat of endurance, such as labour, massages can help mamas release tension between contractions. If you start to feel fatigued, a hand or foot massage can help ease anxiety and re-energize your body. Tension can creep into your jaw during stressful situations, so try rubbing either side of your jaw (from your chin all the way to your temples) with your finger tips or knuckles. Essentially every body part can benefit from the relaxation and pain relief that massages offer.
This one is simple! Load up your phone with your favorite tracks. Don't just go for the relaxing ones either. Get some of your workout music on there also, songs that will motivate and energize you.
Mamas what gave you comfort during labour?