Building your birth nest
Having a baby is a lot like having a poo. I’ve said it and i’ll say it again and again.
When we go to the toilet we often can’t ‘go’ if we feel like someone is watching us. Or, say if you were in public toilets and the door wasn’t working, could you go? If you really needed a poo, but someone was in the cubicle next to you - would you risk them hearing ‘splash down’ or would you hold yourself and wait until they had gone? If you were frightened, or worried could you relax enough to have a poo, or would you wait until you felt more comfortable?
It’s really difficult to relax and let our bodies do what they need to do if we feel observed, unsafe, or stressed. Birth works the same way. Of course we find it more difficult to birth our babies lying on our backs, under a bright light, legs spread with a total stranger looking ‘down there’ saying, ‘you’re not progressing’ - well OBVIOUSLY! It’s hardly a confidence boosting atmosphere is it. You’re much more likely to draw up and tense, preventing your baby from being born as easily and making the whole process more uncomfortable and longer!
When you are tense, or you feel observed our bodies begin to produce adrenaline. A hormone that triggers a survival reflex that tenses our body more, reduces oxygen supplies to our core muscles (uterine muscles being some of them!) and tells our body to RUN or FIGHT. Hardly what we want to happen in birth - read The Science of Birth to find out more about these hormones and their place in birth
If we stay relaxed and calm. Feeling safe and protected our body is able to relax and open more easily and gently to birth our babies. Staying in this calmer state also increases our production of Oxytocin - the love hormone we need to birth our babies - take a look here for Hormones for pregnancy and birth.
What do we do to support mum and encourage oxytocin? We build a nest! Creating a birth environment that is calm and safe really supports a positive birth. Allowing mum to birth her baby with confidence and in safety.
Here’s your nest building checklist!
It doesn’t matter where you choose to birth your baby, many of the tips on the list can be used at home, birth centre and hospital. If you’re giving birth in a hospital or MLU then i’d always recommend taking a tour before baby arrives so you can get familiar (especially where to park and how to get there!) and talk to them about how you can create the birth environment you want. For example, you can’t light candles in hospital - but you can use electric tea lights and they look just the same! Many birth places now have a lot of the below available too - but it’s best to check!
Support - intimacy and love boost our natural oxytocin levels so let mum know you’re there. Use you massage and relaxation techniques from your hypnobirth classes to make mum feel safe and comfortable. More on birth partner tips here.
Light - dim those lights! Or turn them off all together and instead use fairy lights, candles or LED candles to create a softer more private lighting.
Scent - diffuse some aromatherapy oils (preferably the ones mum has used in pregnancy, so she is familiar with them and associates the smell with calm) Aromatherapy can reduce the sensation pain in labour so it’s a great allrounder for pain relief and relaxation (evidence here) for suggestions read this great article on aromatherapy for pregnancy and birth
Sound - Use relaxation music, guided meditations or whatever mum has chosen to help support her. I always think it’s good to mix in some hypbobirth affirmations and relaxations to help refocus every now and then. Tips for using guided meditations and a free download can be found here!
Hydration & snacks - Keep mum hydrated and offer snacks to keep her energy up. What does she love - I had red liquorice during my labour! Yum!
Active - Have lots of places you can move to. A birth pool, birth ball, chair, peanut ball, floor mats and pillows. Keeping birth active will help baby move down easier and quicker and keeping a good UFO position will help reduce discomfort.
Think about putting affirmations around the room to remind you of how amazing you are. It can really help boost your focus or give you a lift when you’re experiencing a strong surge. You could also out pictures up of your baby scans to remind you that your little one is on their way and it’s almost time to meet them - after all, that’s what this is all for!
Noise - Make sure that where possible the birth partner and care providers talk together and quietly rather than disturbing mum. Preparing a birth preferences sheet can help to advise your care providers of your prefered care and choices, without them having to ask lots of questions. Allowing mum to remain relaxed and focused on birthing her baby.
Remember - mums birth their babies best when they feel unobserved, calm and safe. So, as the birth partner, make sure you scan the room frequently to make sure you are protecting that environment.
If you have any questions about the techniques, or want to know more about other relaxation techniques for pregnancy & birth you could book a BIRTH HOUR appointment with us, for a short, effective and informative hour of birth coaching. Details can be found here.