I’m pregnant with my first baby, and as the birth gets closer I’m worried about things that might happen during labour – am I likely to scream or swear a lot, and will I poo as I push? What if I just can’t push enough? Are these common worries?
Midwife Marie Louise, a hypnobirthing teacher and author of the new book The Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond (Vermilion, £14.99), says: “For many women, as their due date approaches labour becomes more real. All sorts of feelings, worries and questions pop up. Don’t worry, it’s normal, and these are all very common worries.
“Women that practise hypnobirthing don’t make much noise because they really go into themselves. They tend to get in the ‘zone’ and that’s when the body truly works to the best of its ability and contractions are most effective. When we’re scared, our bodies release different hormones to help protect us, but during birth those hormones can actively work against labour progression. That’s why it’s best to go with your body and learn breathing techniques to help you.
“Everyone’s different and there’s certainly no right or wrong way to labour. Some women do swear or shout and others don’t say much. Either way, that really doesn’t matter. How you feel inside at the time matters. So if swearing helps you get through a contraction, and you feel good venting, great! As long as you’re going with your body and not resisting or tensing up, your body is given the best opportunity to keep oxytocin flowing and therefore labour progressing.
“Most of labour is spent resting – around 70%. That’s because when you’re in established labour you have around three contractions in 10 minutes, each lasting one minute. So with each contraction remember you just need to get through one minute. Break it down like that rather than looking at labour as one big daunting event.
“You may poo in labour and that isn’t usually because you’re pushing – it’s just because your baby’s head is descending and putting pressure on your bowel and anything in your bowel is pushed out as your baby’s head comes through your pelvis. It’s perfectly normal. Please don’t worry about this, midwives are so used to it. A lot of the time, women don’t even know and neither does the birth partner.
“Lastly, when you’re pushing, gravity is your friend. You don’t need to push or work as hard if you’re in a good position. All fours, supported squatting, standing or kneeling are all great for helping you push. Many women that use hypnobirthing tend to instinctively know how to push as they go within themselves and their body tells them, but if this doesn’t happen it’s totally fine, as your midwife will be able to help guide you during this stage.”
PICTURE: Getty Images/iStockphoto