Whilst a lot of the time during labour you may have your eyes closed it is still important to create a space that helps you feel comfortable and private.
Your environment can affect how you feel. Dr Sarah Buckley (author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering) explains how, like any other mammal, women need to birth where they feel “private, safe and undisturbed” in order for the birth hormones to flow well and to enhance the progress of labour.
Creating a space which encourages relaxation as well as opportunities for movement and changing position can help to reduce the release of stress hormones (which slow labour and make contractions harder to manage) It will also give you a sense of control to have input into how you want the room to be.
If you are birthing in a hospital environment it can be more challenging to create a peaceful space than if you are in a Birth Centre or your home. Here are a few ideas:
- cover the medical equipment with a cloth
- bring your own special objects/flowers
- lower the lights (bright lights stimulate the neo cortex/thinking part of the brain and you don’t want to be there!) At home you can obviously still use candles, in hospital or the Birth Centre you can bring battery powered candles for atmosphere
- ask for a mat for the floor, Birth ball and extra cushions so that you can set them up around the room to encourage you to move and change positions. Childbirth Educator Rhea Dhempsey calls this a “Birth Circuit”) This “circuit” can also include the shower, bath or toilet (yes, it’s a great place to feel private!) as well as comfortable places to completely rest between contractions. Set this up at home too for early labour.
- Put affirmations and/or photos you love on the wall to remind you of your strength and power or to use to focus on during contractions. (You can also display your birth plan)
- Move the bed to create more floor space
- Keep the room warm, put on socks if you need to – being cold will interrupt the flow of oxytocin and may increase stress hormones
- Make sure you have access to a bath – this is not only likely to reduce the pain but will also give you a feeling of privacy and warmth or you may prefer the shower
- Take an electric aromatherapy burner and your own essential oils as smell has a powerful effect on the brain and mood
- Keep the room as quiet as possible, consider having music on your phone with earphones (a mixture of playlists of relaxing and more upbeat music)
Think of your room as a special sanctuary for you to help you go deeply inside to connect to your instinctual birthing behaviour and inner wisdom.
Ask your partner or support person to be the one that communicates with the midwife or obstetrician so they you are not disturbed out of “labourland” which high levels of endorphins will take you to.
Remember it is YOUR space for this time, you are an active participant in the birth process and not there to have your baby “delivered” (that’s just for pizzas!) Creating and changing your space is another way to empower yourself!