21 ways to make your birth easier? It is all in the birthing bag that every pregnant woman should assemble in her last trimester. This is the bag that goes with you for birth — different from the suitcase you pack for the hospital stay after the baby is born. Wherever you choose to birth, you and your labor support people can be well prepared for the potential use of many items to make labor easier. The image of the Mary Poppins bag comes to mind. Different items serve specific purposes, but may simply serve as a distraction or a much needed change to support relaxation, focus, confidence and resolve so as to move through intensifying uterine waves (contractions). Consider the following:
- Written birth plan/preferences: It is helpful for all involved to have a reminder handy of what your preferences are. A mother-led birth helps result in a satisfying birth.
- Clothing to maximize freedom of movement in labor in and out of a birthing room (light shirt, sweater or robe and slippers or warm socks); anything to replace or cover a typical hospital gown.
- Focal Point: Many women practice relaxation using both internal and external focal points. Use one you can take with you.
- Favorite music or relaxation narrative on a portable device: Several compilations from smooth, relaxation, to motivating, movement music may be chosen during different times in labor for calming “zoning out” or rocking and dancing to encourage baby’s descent.
- Lollipop: Especially sour candy on a stick promotes salivation to keep mouth moist and deliver sugar for energy. The stick allows taking out to breathe.
- Breath spray or mouthwash: If support partners are breathing closely with birthing mom….
- Juice: A small can of sweet juice or energy drink to add to ice chips.
- Washcloth for cooling moisture. Colored so it can be distinguished from facility’s white ones.
- Lotion/oil for massage.
- Lip balm: It just feels good.
- Distractions: Cards, portable game for prolonged labor and distraction
- Back massage devises: Commercially designed rollers or just tennis balls in a can. (The balls alone are useful for easing back labor and the entire can rolled in a towel works well too.)
- Mood lighting if birthing room has limited light control.
- Birth ball if not provided at facility.
- Hair accessories to pull hair from face.
- Labor log to record timing of uterine waves and other sign posts of labor (don’t forget a pencil/pen).
- Timing Device to track progress through length of uterine waves — stop watch, watch with a second hand, etc. Reminding a laboring woman of her progress through each uterine wave builds confidence and resolve, one wave at a time.
- Labor positions on a list or a set of cards of each position to post around the labor room. It is essential that labor support partners promote movement and changes in positioning throughout labor.
- Support partners’ notes for reference. Childbirth educators usually provide summaries of labor signs and suggested appropriate coping techniques. Written narratives for relaxation and mediation will ease labor. No one is expected to remember it all!
- Support partners’ snacks: A well-nourished, comfortable support partner will be your best advocate.
- Support partners’ trunks or bathing suit for joining you in the shower or tub.
AND DON’T FORGET…
Key phone numbers: Birthing facility, doctor, support persons and family.
Last minute additions: Wallet and insurance documents, glasses and contacts and respective cases, camera and phone.
Lyn Dee Rankin is an experienced educator, having taught children and adults since 1976 in multiple areas of Health Education and served on educational boards. As an independent, non-hospital Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, she has prepared hundreds of couples for safe and healthy births, and has had both a vaginal and cesarean birth, and breastfed both of her children.