- Breathing effectively is key – Sounds easy but unless you practice focused breathing, it can be hard to use your breath well on the big day. Practice taking long slow, deep breaths – imagine breathing the air right down to your baby, imagine the air going into and around your baby and then breathe out long and slow. Do this at night in bed, in the bath or even on the train or bus – any time when you have a minute of two.
2. Relaxing your muscles – if you are tensing up in any way, the contractions will be more painful – like if you tense up for an injection. Practice noticing any tension in your body then actively relaxing those muscles. Focus on your jaw, your shoulders, your hands and your lower back. Even sitting at your desk notice and tension and then release it.
3. Visualisation – the brain is amazing at diverting your attention. By imagining yourself in a wonderful place – a beach, a garden, on a mountain you are able to distract yourself from what may be going on in your body. An extra bonus is we tend to relax more when visualising so double whammy! Think of some of your favourite places now and write them down so you can refer to them or your partner can on the big day.
4. Movement – gently swaying or rocking can help to ease any tension in the muscles, release lactic acid build up, increase blood flow and make space for a baby to move down. Using a birthing ball in the last few weeks of pregnancy as well as during the birth is really beneficial as you can do all those things in a comfortable, safe, and supported way. This also helps strengthen the muscles in the perineum.
5. Prepare your birth partner – if he is feeling relaxed and confident and knows what you want and how to help you achieve that, then he is going to be one of your best assets. If he is worried, panicky etc he will project that onto you – not great. Go through your plan, practice breathing together calmly, rhythmically so that he can match your breathing, practice lower back massage, tell him your visualisations – all this will give you both more confidence to put them into practice on the big day.