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Prenatal Yoga helped me a ton with relaxing and breathing through the tension/pain.
And I just felt like it helped so much that I was in a great place mentally where I wasn't scared or worried one bit about labor and delivery. The more relaxed and calm you are through out your labor, the easier it *should* be.
Do whatever research and prep you need to get yourself emotionally strong, calm and confident that your body will birth the baby like it was built to do. A big part of that is having a strong support system (partner/doula) that is on the same page as you as to your birth preferences and your plans for the what if's. Knowing that everyone is on board and that you have done all the research and are comfortable with whatever may come your way will help to ease your mind and let you relax.
We took the Bradley classes and loved them. They taught H how to be a great coach and educated him on child birth. I had a wonderful "plan" for how I was going L&D. I had a list of positions and when I was going to use them. In my birth that went completely out the window. My recommendation is to listen to your body when you are in L&D. Labor in the positions you feel comfortable, make the noises you want to make, eat what you want to eat/drink. Your body will KNOW what to do. Do not try to over analyze or over think things (I did in the beginning). I found that laboring on hands and knees was the only way I felt comfortable. I stayed in that position and only moved to drive to the hospital.
I found that laboring in the tub was really helpful for contractions. I had intense back labor so my H/doula poured hot water over my back which helped ease the pain. I also found that moaning helped. The low moans gave me something to think about and do.
Also, talk to your partner about what you want a lot so that they know your wishes. There will be times you can not talk or communicate in L&D. Your partner needs to know what you want and communicate it to your provider. It is a huge relief knowing that your partner will advocate for you because he knows exactly what you want. it helped me relax in the hospital environment because I knew he and my doula were there.
The Bradley classes were great.
Also, I chose a classical CD to listen and relax to while pregnant, and played that during labor.
I labored in the tub, which was amazing, the warm water makes it so much better.
My doula helped me with breathing, which was great when contraction were tough.
Low moaning vs. high pitched screams really make a difference too.
Also, try to keep your face relaxed, tensing up makes the contractions worse.
Try to relax into the contractions, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Vocalize the energy coming from the contractions. I ended up singing through mine, no words, just "Om"s that turned into song.
We didn't do any studying but next time I am going to make sure DH is better prepared. He did fine but He could do with a little research and advice on how to better comfort a birthing woman. I remember looking at him during contractions and seeing how helpless he felt. I'd like for him to feel better next time and I think more prep for him would help.
NatesCupcake47:I'm a FTM and hoping for a natural birth in October. I am currently reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and have found it very encouraging and helpful.
I second this book recommendation.
Also, while I can't speak to actual labor and delivery of a full-term baby, I can say that I found clitoral stimulation to help immensely with the contractions I had when miscarrying.