Whether you are laboring at home, or in a hospital or birthing center, with a little planning and preparation, you can create more comfort, pleasure and support for yourself during your labor and after your birth. A great place to start is to focus on the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.
I want to share with you what I appreciated having available during my own labor and early postpartum, as well as some helpful tips that I have learned along the way in my work in supporting mothers and babies. One thing is for sure, a few thoughtful and well-considered things are better than loads of the alternative, so focus your efforts on what will really support your heart, mind and body. You will be grateful you did.
• Keep framed photos of loved ones to place around your birthing space.
• LED or clean burning candles create a soothing glow throughout.
• Birthing affirmations placed around the space will help you through the challenges and to remind you of your strength. You can do this, momma!
• Flowers to enjoy while you labor, because afterward, you will only have eyes for your newly born love.
• Plan a birth altar that holds items that are precious to you. It may be centered on your faith or on symbols of birth that give you solace and encouragement.
• Have a variety of music organized in playlists that are easy for you or your support to manage for you.
• Use your own voice to tone or sing your way through surges.
• Offer up prayers, chants or the repetition of words that are meaningful to you. Your sensitivity and knowing is a gift.
• Your own breath (and those of your support team) can be great source of soothing and comfort. Sighing audibly on your exhales is steading and can help lessen stress and pain.
• If the need for quiet comes up for you, ask that your support and caregivers speak quietly around if you and give you silence whenever possible.
• Make a variety of healthy drinks available to you, because one minute orange is your best friend, and the next the smell alone can make you gag.
• Getting hangry during labor is not good for a laboring momma, so keep easy-to-digest and nutrient-rich meals and snacks on hand, for you and your team. Remember variety is key.
• Sometimes during our labors, our bellies are not up for anything, but our mouths get dry or want to be freshened up. Include a natural mouthwash or something pleasant for you swish and spit in your birth kit. A mouthwash can do the trick nicely, as can brushing your teeth.
• Peppermints or ginger candies to suck on to help with a wonky belly and again with a dry mouth.
• Teas and tisanes for sipping and for birthing benefit. Do research ahead of time and find out how herbal teas can support you in your labor and recovery.
• If you are away from home, bring along your favorite blanket to add to the bed during your first night together as a family. The same with your pillow.
• Have your Boba Wrap ready and at hand to keep the you and your baby skin-to-skin.
• Have oils and lotions on hand that can bring you comforting touch and scent during your labor.
• Hold your sweetie's hand or hold your nurse's hand. Whoever it may be for you, take refuge in that tender touch exchange.
• Touch your own body. Really. Feel free to touch your body as you are incline to because if you are inclined to, then it will likely aid in your labor and birth. Trust yourself.
• Make sure ice and heat are available to you, as you need them. Both can bring comfort and benefit when used properly.
• Keep any scent natural and light so that your baby will be able to smell you clearly and you can smell him or her too, forming that profound chemical bond between the two of you. Your baby wants to smell YOU. Yes, you, in all your laboring funk. It's there by intelligent design. Here's a good piece that talks more about this idea if it's new to you or if you just want to learn more. But it's not like any of us need more excuses to nuzzle our little ones and breathe in deeply.
• A whiff of essential oils like lavender and rose, or frankincense and peppermint, can do wonders for clearing your mind while you are laboring. You don't even have to apply them, just hold the bottle close and breathe in.