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Monitoring, movement and what to wear during labour

Being pregnant gives us a lot of choices to make…where you want to birth your baby, do you want any drugs, how do you want to feed? Unfortunately we aren’t always given the full picture or told how things may negatively impact our experience. 

It can be completely overwhelming with so much information to take in and then form an opinion. Sometimes statistics are used in a skewed way to scare you into making a decision that may or may not be the best for you. Hypnobirthing can help inform you about all of your many options and choices, giving you the space to process. You can then have the confidence to take control of your birth and make the decisions that are best for you and your baby. Whatever these choices may be, they will be yours and you will be in control of your care.

As with everything in birth, you have a choice about which type of monitoring you accept, if any.

During labour your baby is subjected to the changes and pressures of your uterus. This is completely natural and most babies are absolutely fine with this. Occasionally, some babies don’t cope very well and may need a little extra help. Monitoring in labour is designed to help spot these rare cases.

This image shows ‘Intermittent Monitoring’ at it’s finest. Your midwife will very discretely use a hand held Doppler to listen to your baby’s heart rate. This is the same type that is used at your midwife appointments. They will listen to your baby every 15 minutes for around 1 minute, usually after a surge. This can be done in whatever position you are in with minimal disruption to you. Meaning that you can move freely and one huge benefit is that it can also be used in water.

Research suggests that it has reduced rates of interventions during birth and is actually still very effective at spotting babies that need a little help.

Remember you always have a choice.

One alternative type of monitoring is continuous monitoring.

This method of monitoring your baby is usually only available on the labour ward.

You will have a monitor for your baby’s heart rate and one to measure your surges. Both attached to your bump with stretchy elastic bands and then connected to a machine with wires. Your midwife can then keep track of how your baby is doing at all times.

It’s usually recommended if you have any complications and shouldn’t be offered as standard. As with everything there are benefits and risks. It’s worth remembering that hospital protocol isn’t always right for everyone. The main risk with this type of monitoring is due to restricted movement. It is proven that movement is the best thing for getting your baby into a great position. If you are told to lie down and keep still then you aren’t necessarily going to be able to keep moving. Research shows that you have a slightly higher chance of having an intervention when you are continuously monitored.

You CAN move around in labour.

Move however and whenever you like, you aren’t a patient, you’re giving birth. Listen to your body and do what feels right for you. Movement can really help your baby get into a great position for birth and help things to progress easily and effectively. This is especially important if you are attached to monitors or have an epidural. There are lots of ways that you can still stay active.

There’s no right or wrong birth position, everyone will find their own safe space. For some people this might even be the toilet!

Although saying that…when you are lying on your back you reduce your pelvic space by 30%. You want your pelvis to be as open as possible to allow the baby through and therefore the most optimum positions for birth are : Upright • Forward • Open

This could be squatting, on all fours, on your bed, on the floor, in a pool or all of the above. Just go with it and keep your pelvis open letting gravity work it’s magic.

It also seems that lots of people didn’t realise that you don’t have to put a gown on to give birth.

This goes back to the statement that you are giving birth, you aren’t sick and you aren’t a patient.

You can keep your own clothes on or even strip off and go fully naked. I actually bought myself a special new bikini top for the birth pool. It made me feel so good when it was finally time to get in the pool. Feeling like a goddess! Hospital gowns have a time and a place and can prevent you ruining your own clothes but they aren’t always necessary during birth.

Remember it is totally your choice and you should do whatever is right for you. Read up and make your own decisions in advance.

I want to help you to feel empowered and in control of your own body throughout pregnancy and birth. It is such an important time to listen to your body and follow your instincts. Making sure that you feel confident and informed about your options and the choices that you can make is the best step to empowerment. It’s your body and your choice.