What do you know about giving birth in Singapore, mama? Experienced midwife Red Miller is back with her final tips for having an empowering, happy and intervention-free birth!
Click here for Part 1: How to Have an Intervention-Free Birth
Click here for Part 2: Self-Care During Pregnancy
In the first two parts of this 3-part series, experienced midwife and birthing instructor Red Miller of Love Based Birth talked about medical interventions in the birthing process and self care during pregnancy. Today she’s back with 8 top tips for a calm and peaceful labour. With Red’s guidance, we know you’ll have a smoother trip through pregnancy, mama.
As ever, we want to let you know that Sassy Mama supports every kind of birth, and respects every woman’s decision around what to do with her body. We just want to help you get informed! For even more on giving birth in Singapore, be sure to check out our Ultimate C-Section Guide and Guide to Natural Birth in Singapore. Now take it away, Red!
Labour and birth is experienced differently for every woman, and what works for one may not work for another.
From my experience these are the 8 top tips to help you stay on the course of intervention-free birth once baby starts knocking.
14. Ignore labour sensations as long as possible and conserve your energy
The body needs warm-up time before birth. Time to begin the process of softening and ripening before it will start to open.
This is called warm-up, or early labour. You will be having contractions but they will be short (20 or 30 seconds long) and irregular. The golden rule of early or warm up labour is this: conserve energy as long as possible!
If it happens at night, stay in bed, put relaxing music in your headphones and breathe, ignore and rest. If it is during the day, have some distracting projects ready, like a couple movies you’ve been waiting to see, or bake a birthday cake.
Every minute you conserve in the early stages will be there to help you once things get more intense.
Think of a marathon. You’d never start a 42 kilometer run with a sprint, right?
15. Stay home as long as possible
Babies don’t usually just fly out, especially if it’s your first. So don’t panic.
Understanding the difference between warm-up labour and active labour is important to avoid getting to the hospital too early. (Remember we talked about good independent birth prep classes? You’ll learn all this there.)
Not getting to the hospital too early is one of the biggest essentials to avoiding intervention. If you have a doula, have her come home to support you and spend as much of your ‘active labour’ at home as you can.
16. Make sure your hospital bag includes:
- Snacks: Fruits like watermelon, homemade fruit popsicles, protein bars, and electrolyte drinks like coconut water
- Socks/slippers: Hospital floors are cold so when you’re sitting on an exercise ball, leaning forward against the bed or doing anything else outside the bed; you’ll want cosy feet.
- A bathrobe/shawl: Your temperature will fluctuate with the work of labour. One minute you’ll be sweating and the next minute shivering. Having something cosy that is an easy on and off will help.
- Music: Make two different playlists: one for relaxing and one for dancing/swaying to. I like headphones because it will help keep you focused and make it easier to ignore the distraction around of nurses coming in and out. Little speakers are also good to mix it up.
- For even more ideas, check out Sassy Mama’s hospital packing list!
17. Create a Calm environment
Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the uterus to move (‘contract’) during labour to get the baby out. This hormone is also known as the love hormone; it’s what builds and gets released when having an orgasm. Oxytocin is shy and it needs to feel safe, loved, uninhibited and secure in order to work.
That’s why environment for birth matters. Dim lights, whispers and minimal distractions will keep oxytocin high in the body. Without the option of cosy birth centers in Singapore, you’ll need to get creative.
Discuss with your doctor beforehand and bring a few things from home like battery-operated candles or fairy lights, your own soft pillow, and a picture or two that makes you feel strong and connected.
18. Stay mobile
No woman ever, if given the choice, will lie down on a bed and put her legs in the air to give birth. No other mammal does it, either.
Discuss cordless – or even better intermittent – monitoring with your doctor and make an agreement you will not have to spend your labour strapped to a bed.
19. Avoid all the ‘small’ interventions
Wearing a hospital gown, being given an enema, shaving your pubic hair, constant fetal monitoring or receiving anything routinely via IV drip are all interventions.
Healthy mums and babies without risk factors don’t need any of these things as routine (although if one of those makes you more comfortable, go for it, because once again, every woman gives birth differently!).
Just bear in mind that interventions tend to build on each other; one often leads to the next. You can refuse all of them unless there is a real medical need; this is why the points we discussed previously are so important.
Find a care provider who supports your birth philosophy, who will actively partner with you in your care, who is open to discussing your birth preferences. All of this needs to be negotiated well before you get anywhere near labour.
20. Use water
The element of relaxation, think about the exhale you let out when sinking into a warm bath. In water the body becomes buoyant, releasing the tension and stress from the ligaments and joints.
Being able to submerge is ideal, but if that is not possible there are many other ways to use water to increase relaxation during labour.
A hot water bottle on your low belly or back, or sitting on an exercise ball or stool under a warm shower will both feel great! Definitely use water at home before heading to the hospital.
It’s been wonderful sharing my top 21 tips with you, mamas! I wish you all wonderful births and a gentle start to motherhood.
Remember you are stronger, more flexible and more intuitive then any other time in life!
Be gentle with yourself and be ready to go with the flow and embrace all the twists and turn that may come up during the process.
In birth there is no way to ‘fail’, so relax, and just go for it!