Below are 11 tips to get you closer to dilating the magical 10 centimeters:
1 Prepare early by reading, taking a birth class, prenatal yoga class and hiring a Doula.
2. Identify your personal pain coping techniques, gauge their efficacy, and then learn a few more.
3. Practice each contraction/pain technique using a stopwatch and strategically placed ice cubes. Try behind ears or holding in your hands. Each contraction only lasts about one minute. You can do it!
4. Know and believe in your birth environment. You may have questions that you would like to have answered knowledgeably and objectively so you can feel confident with your choice.
5. At the start of labor, check to see if you are well rested, well hydrated and well fed. Tend to each to the best of your ability.
6. Keep your eyes off the clock at first. Have an early labor project to work on. When you start to have to pay attention to contractions begin your techniques.
7. Begin to focus on one technique that works. Generally, it will be a combination of position, movement, sound, touch and breath. Coordinating this rhythm will help you build confidence as you move through one contraction and welcome the next stronger one.
8. If you hit a “wall”, say so. Your team will help you maintain a clear mind by recommending slow deep breaths to bring in more oxygen to you and your baby, a change of position, a moment alone with your partner. You may hear yourself saying, “I can’t do this.” This is normal and you are actually doing it.
9. “Progress” isn’t always steady. It can go slowly at first then pick up speed later. Stay upright as long as you can. Utilize “hip-opener” positions and hands and knees. Allow for movement of your baby down onto your cervix.
10. Remember, the opening of a cervix, especially for the first time, is often painful. However, it is pain with a very important purpose and one with a built-in brilliant design for birth. The effective use of medicine can help, but is not always necessary.
11. Finally, and if it is reasonable, allow time after the excitement of hearing you are “complete” to relax and allow your baby’s head time to mold and get ready for descent through the open cervix. Some midwives call this the 11th centimeter and can help with an effective pushing stage.
Good luck! You can do it!
The image is capturing a Maui mama during a contraction while she labors at the beach.
Image Credit: Gaia Photography