If you're expecting a baby and are perhaps a little apprehensive about the birth, we have some great tips from a childbirth expert to help have a smooth labour.
Hypnobirthing Coach Emma Armstrong, aka The Naked Doula, has shared seven fascinating tips about labour with HELLO! to help mums-to-be have a more relaxed delivery. Read her advice below…
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We are giving birth the wrong way...
Emma tells HELLO!: "Women giving birth laying on their back while having their legs open, 'pushing' for the baby is not the ideal way. Let me explain… the traditional way gives the baby less room simply because the space in the pelvic outlet reduces.
"So what is the alternative to stop this from happening? The recommended way to give birth to your baby is by bringing the knees in and calves out allowing the pelvic outlet to open and to create space for the baby – this requires less intervention, the chances of tearing are lower and the 'pushing stage' of the labour becomes easier."
Your face is connected to your pelvis
"When it comes to contractions, women seem to put a lot of focus on it without realising that there is an easier way to manage those than just breathing.
"A lot of people don't realise that your jaw and your face is connected to your pelvis, pelvic floor and the vaginal area meaning that if we are tensing while having our contractions, we are going to be in pain.
"The solution to that is to relax the jaw and face, allowing the uterus – which is a group of muscles – to work efficiently and relax the pelvic floor. With this happening, the dilation becomes quicker and smoother!"
Dates are the super-fruit of birth
"Let’s talk about food! Dates are a super fruit when it comes to birth. By eating six medium dates per day, starting from 34 weeks – on their own, in a delicious smoothie or even cooked in a meal – it makes labour more favourable.
"To support this, statistics show that you can have a faster labour, smoother contractions, and higher dilatation rate while on your way to the hospital. The evidence also shows that, by eating dates on a regular basis, the intervention needed is less and birth can become a much easier experience."
Try singing during childbirth
"Singing in labour can be your best friend – even if not all of us have the best singing voice!
"Humming becomes helpful because it activates the vagus nerve. This will help to release those 'feel good' hormones, lower the stress and anxiety and allow us to relax, leading to the production of extra oxytocin endorphins and a better labour."
Reconsider the watermelon analogy
"The term 'squeezing a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon' is a load of rubbish and do you want to know why? This is because a baby's head is nothing like a watermelon and a vagina is nothing like a lemon!
"In fact, our vagina unfolds 10 times its size to allow for the baby to descend. Your baby's skull is, in fact, not fused together as the bones move and mould."
Drink through a straw
"By drinking through a straw while in labour, it will help the jaw relax. Now, do you remember what happens when the jaw is relaxed? The pelvic floor gets loose, which means so does the vagina. This leads to smoother contractions and lower chance of tearing as the perineum gets looser."
Try holding a comb in labour
"Using a comb while in labour is one of my favourite topics as it relates to acupressure. The moment you hold the comb, the pain signals get blocked as your brain focuses on the sensations as part of the gate control theory.
"This is how you do it: Hold the comb with the teeth, point it the direction below where your fingers meet your palm. Thank me later!"