Every mum wishes to have an easy labour, so here are some tips to make your work of welcoming your little one that bit easier.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
If you’re a first-time mum, you might be pouring through pregnancy books, scouring the Internet, and asking your mummy pals on their labour experience, as well as what they did to have an easier labour. While it’s great to be prepared, every mum has a labour and delivery experience that is completely unique to herself.
The labour experience each mum goes through depends on her preferences as well as her medical needs; what works for one mum might not necessarily work for another. But, we know any tip for an easier labour is always welcome in a pregnant mum’s book, so here are some ways that will hopefully make your job of welcoming your bundle of joy a bit easier.
Noting down how you would like your labour and delivery to go – known as a birth plan – is usually recommended so the medical team has an idea of your expectations. Of course, it’s impossible to plan every aspect of your labour and delivery, no matter how much you wish you could.
Another way to label it would be “delivery preference”, as stated by Dr Goh Shen Li, senior consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist from S L Goh Women’s Clinic.
Your preferences should address concerns such as
the ambience of your room, if you wish to be administered
pain relief, and which birthing position you prefer.
Your delivery preference should also state your preferred method of delivery. Dr Goh says, “It is advisable to inform your obstetrician during the antenatal period if you are keen for normal delivery or a caesarean section so that this preference can be discussed before the actual labour. This will allow the obstetrician to assess the suitability or likelihood of a successful vaginal delivery.”
In general, you should discuss all your preferences with your obstetrician early on in your pregnancy. There are many factors to think about with regards to labour and delivery, so give yourself ample time to consider all your options.
Know What to Do
Talk to your obstetrician on the things you need to know when you go into labour, so you’ll be prepared when you’re actually experiencing the real thing. Know what are the different stages of labour, the signs to look out for, the correct way to time your contractions, as well as when during your labour should you head to the hospital.
Be sure to check with your obstetrician too on the different situations that may arise which will require you to head to the hospital earlier. An example is if your water bag breaks before you start experiencing contractions. According to the Health Promotion Board, this can increase the risk of infection to you and your baby, so head to the hospital immediately if this happens to you.
Pain Relief Methods
There are various pain relief methods available for pregnant mums to ease their labour, so discuss this with your obstetrician to see which would work best for you.
If you’re in early labour, Dr Goh recommends trying
non-pharmaceutical methods of pain relief. These include
having a warm bath, TENS (transcutaneous electrical
nerve stimulation), or back massages.
The most popular form of pain relief – and the most effective – is an epidural. “This is an injection which will pass pain relief medicine into the fluid that surrounds the nerves around the spine,” says Dr Goh, “This procedure is administrated by a trained anaesthetist and is very effective in blocking the pain of labour.”
However, because an epidural takes at least half an hour after it is administered to work, Dr Goh highlights that there may not be one hundred per cent effectiveness if the epidural is administered too near to the time of delivery.
Other options of pain relief you may consider are Entonox gas and pethidine. According to Dr Goh, Entonox gas offers mild pain relief and has side effects including nausea and light-headedness. For a pain medication that is more effective, you may consider pethidine injections.
“Pethidine is a type of morphine-like medicine and provides good pain relief in the first few hours after the injection is given. It cannot be given close to the delivery time as it may cause some temporary drowsiness in the newborn, resulting in poor cry at birth,” explains Dr Goh.
Have a Massage
A perineal massage, that is. And no, this isn’t really to help you relax. According to Dr Goh, doing a perineal massage can help “reduce the likelihood of a big tear during delivery, as it makes the perineum more stretchable”. You can do the perineal massage on your own, or have your partner – or any other person you trust – help you.
Don’t let your growing bump stop you from exercising. Labour and delivery can be a long and intensive process, which takes up a lot of your energy, so building up your strength can help ease your labour.
Dr Goh recommends staying active until your due date. “Exercises like swimming, walking or yoga helps you to stretch your muscles and joints,” she adds.
Dr Goh also advises taking more walks and doing full squats during the last four weeks of your pregnancy if you wish to undergo a vaginal delivery. She says, “This will encourage the baby’s head to descend well into the pelvis and become engaged. The lower the head is when you start your labour, the faster and easier it will be to deliver the baby.”
Snacking during the early stages of labour is generally okay, and can help keep your energy levels up. Just be sure to limit your food options to light snacks such as sandwiches, yoghurt, or plain crackers.
In addition, bear in mind that food takes a longer time to digest during labour, so it is better to eat smaller meals more frequently, rather than having one large meal. Avoid foods that are high in fat too, as they can make you feel more uncomfortable and may even make you feel sick.