A quick google search for “labour essentials” or “what to pack labour and delivery” will yield thousands of results and lists upon lists of what you need for the big event. I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say I was searching furiously for the ultimate list from about 32 weeks, assuming I could google and checklist my way to a successful, drug-free beautiful labour.
Lists are full of suggestions from snacks through to entertainment, books to read and even your own toilet paper (maybe not at the moment with the Corona Virus crisis in Australia. The last thing we want is a heavily pregnant mama trying to battle the toilet paper isle!). Whilst I agree with a common notion to pack three separate bags;
- One for baby – brimming with cute clothes, nappies, headbands, little booties and swaddles!
- One for mum – obviously you’ll need clothes to go home in and other bits and pieces for after you’ve delivered
- One for labour and birth – the wildcard bag. Some say its necessary, others say these items can be put into the bag you’ve packed for mum.
I think it’s useful to have a third bag specifically for labour and birth as it allows you to direct support people to one singular bag with less chance of them pulling out a going-home pair of underwear rather than a heat pack. It’s one less thing for you to worry about while you zone into delivering your beautiful baby.
I want to focus on the third bag – the labour and birth bag. What do women actually end up using? What actually gets real women through the real throes of labour and delivery? Rather than writing another list similar to the thousands already out there, I asked a number of TIMBS followers what they used during their labours and what got them through the intensity of delivery.
Many women voice their praises for online hypnobirthing courses. One of the biggest advantages is that it puts you into a positive mindset which in turn can reduce stress, allow you to relax in the early stages of labour and help you feel more empowered about the experience. Closing the eyes and envisioning a safe space can also help.
Headphones and Music
Specifically a genre you can really get into. For some, it will be hype music others may want to listen to something more relaxing. One follower found 90’s music was the key to delivery.
A Good Support Person
Whether it’s friends or family, a good, reliable support person is paramount. Whilst partners commonly become the primary support person, some women have found having their mother, sister or aunty in the room provided the womanly support and strength they needed.
This goes without saying, whether you have a relatively short labour or are contracting for days on end, the epidural is a wonderful advance in modern medicine that allows women to be relieved of pain. I recommend speaking with your healthcare provider prior to going into labour about the epidural so you can make an informed decision.
One follower swore by using quality, pure essential oils during her labour. Using a combination of rollers, a diffuser, sprays and a belly salve to keep her labour progressing and herself focussed, energised and alert. Some of the oils included clary sage, lavender and frankincense, but you can have a read at her full post for more details.
It encourages gentle movement (bouncing, swaying, gently rolling in a circle), is easy to move around and can be used in the shower too. It can also be knelt on or leant across to help you change up positions and work out what assists you best during the contractions.
Water is an excellent pain relief tool. A shower in particular can be useful for managing the pain of contractions as it allows you to be upright (thus utilising gravity) and moving around. Sometimes hopping into a deep pool of water can slow labours progression so the shower is a great alternative.
Shrek – Or Any Movie!
Maybe a Dreamworks film isn’t exactly your cup of tea, but one follower swore by it! Whether you choose Shrek as well, or any other movie, it makes sense to have a distraction outside of labour constantly playing. I myself remember watching Masterchef re-runs in early labour before we drove to the hospital.
Focussing on the breath and practicing breathing in a calming pattern can be a fantastic tool for labour. It does take practice and everyone is different: some may find breathing in for 4 counts and out for 6 counts calms them, while others may prefer to take more oxygen in, hold for a moment and let it out for fewer counts. Play around and find out what brings you into a calm place.
These work by delivering small pulses of electrical currents to the area directly under the pads (which are stuck to your skin) and surrounding. It is an excellent way to manage early labour and is a natural, drug-free alternative to pain relief. They are particularly useful for first time mum’s or those with long labours.
An informed mother can lead to an informed labour and delivery. Going in blind (especially for new mums) can result in higher rates of intervention, which for some is unwanted and can result in birth trauma. Research can be talking to your midwife/ healthcare professionals, reading birth stories, watching birth videos, taking birth classes and attending workshops and being curious about the process of labour and delivery. Curiosity often leads to learning!