The idea of a long labour is daunting for many expectant women. You wonder how you’re going to cope with the pain, worry about the well-being of your baby, and of course, there’s the sheer exhaustion of the entire process.
Says Benita Tay, who is now 5 months pregnant with her third baby, “I’ve had difficult labours with my previous two kids. The first time round, I was in labour for 20 hours. The second time, I had to have an emergency C-section after being in labour for 14 hours. I will probably opt for a C-section straight away this time round.”
Pamela Soon, mum to Nicole 2, recalls feeling her first labour pains at around 9am in the morning. “We grabbed the hospital bags and reached the hospital by 10 ― she arrived within the next hour!” she says.
A short labour can earn you some envious looks from other mums, but do also note that these can sometimes be more intense and painful, as your body has less time to get those endorphins, including oxytocin and prolactin, flowing. The hormone also beta-endorphins help to relieve pain.
Short labours can sometimes be more intense and painful, as your body has less time to get those endorphins flowing.
To avoid being in labour longer than you really have to, you can take natural steps to prepare for D-day.
1. Move around
Staying active and upright can help your labour progress faster. Walking around helps to strengthen contractions and uses gravity to move your baby downwards. Besides walking, try squatting, kneeling and getting on all fours.
When your baby is about to arrive, try sitting upright, with your legs open as wide as possible. This helps your body open up and aligns your pelvis to the best position in order to push bubba out.
On the other hand, when you’re lying down, your pelvic size decreases because of the angle of the birth canal, nor would you have gravity’s help to push your baby down.
2. Cuddle up
Birthing can be an intimate time for both you and your husband. It’s the lead up to the moment where you welcome your little one into the world, so cherish this time as a couple.
Cuddle and kiss, stroke, and let him massage you. Besides growing as a couple and helping you to relax, all the touching will help to stimulate the release of oxytocin, which can help to trigger stronger contractions.
3. Eat red dates
It’s not just an old wive’s tale ― scientific research shows that eating dates during pregnancy can shorten your labour!
The study by the Jordan University of Science and Technology looked at 69 women who consumed six dates a day for four weeks prior to giving birth against 45 who didn’t. Those who ate the dates had a significantly higher cervical dilation upon admission, significantly speedier labour, and a reduced need for labour to be induced.
4. Drink raspberry leaf tea
Raspberry leaf tea is naturally high in magnesium, potassium, iron and B vitamins. This means that it’s good for a variety of awful pregnancy symptoms ― such as nausea and leg cramps. It has also long been used to treat a variety of menstrual problems and to decrease the risk of bleeding after birth.
Another benefit is that it strengthens uterine muscles. With stronger uterine muscles, you’ll be able to achieve more with each contraction, so that you can push out your baby in a shorter period of time. So, what are you waiting for? You can purchase it here.
Those who ate the dates had a significantly higher cervical dilation upon admission, significantly speedier labour, and a reduced need for induction of labour.
5. Do your Kegels
You’ve always been told that it’s important to keep your pelvic-floor muscles fighting fit ― there’s even more truth to this when preparing for pregnancy and labour. Those muscles are crucial in labour because they need to stretch to allow your baby to be born.
Doing your Kegels will strengthen them. Contract your pelvic-floor muscles ― the ones that you control if you’re stopping the flow of urine. Contract those muscles for 10 seconds, then release. Do this exercise 10 or 20 times in a row, two or three times a day.
Having greater control of how to contract and relax your pelvic-floor muscles will make it easier for you to relax them during labour, so that you can push more effectively.
6. Try evening primrose oil
Anecdotal evidence shows that evening primrose oil can kick-start labour. There haven’t been any formal studies, so you should wait till you’re around 36 weeks along before you give it a go. It’s not advisable to take this supplement any earlier, as evening primrose oil contains prostaglandin, a natural form of a gel that is often used to induce labour.
Evening primrose oil may help the cervix soften and efface (thin out and get ready for labour). But there have been studies pointing out that it increases the risk of haemorraging, so use under your gynaecologist’s advice and with caution.
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