Preparing For Labour

Preparing for Labour As your due date approaches it’s a good idea to start preparing for the arrival of your new baby, there are several things you can do to help make it a smooth and stress free process: Birth plans A birth plan is your way of documenting what you would like to happen during your labour. There is no correct way to fill in a birth plan as all labours and births are different and every woman will have her own individual wishes and concerns. Key themes you may wish to think about are: who you want with you and what their role will be where and how you will deliver your baby how you wish to cope in early labour pain relief options as labour progresses any special requirements as soon as the baby is delivered (skin to skin with the baby, who will cut the cord etc) how you wish to deliver the placenta (third stage) whether you want the bay to receive Vitamin K or not Write down any questions that you have to take to your antenatal appointments, this way your midwife can help you with any decisions that you’re not sure about. Have Your Bags Ready Only 5% of babies actually come on their due date, so it is always a good idea to have your bags packed and ready to go. Although it is tempting to bring everything including the kitchen sink to the hospital, in reality you don’t really need very much. Below is a list to get you started: HANDHELD NOTES Old night/t-shirt for labour Nightwear Lightweight dressing gown Slippers Big knickers/disposable knickers Nursing Bras Wash kit Towel Sanitary pads Going home clothes Any medications that you usually take For the Baby: Nappies Cotton wool (not baby wipes) Vests (4) Clothes (4 sets) Hat Socks Mittens Shawl/blanket Car seat/pram – to take the baby home it, all babies must be in a secure carrier to go home. Should your baby require artificial milk whilst on the ward, bottles and formula will be provided. Optional Extras: CD’s Food Camera/camcorders Anything specific you want with you whilst in the hospital Home Births: Obviously going home clothes wont be needed, nor will supplies for a stay in hospital but many of the things on the above list will be needed at home Please refer to the Home Birth Information page for details of the supplies you will need for your home birth. Plan your journey! Do a dummy run to the hospital – getting lost on the way to the hospital whilst in labour will be no fun for anyone and obviously the journey will take longer depending on the time of day, so a dummy run will allow you to estimate how much time it will take to get to the hospital for the really thing. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with where the more appropriate parking spaces are and how to find your way to the labour ward from the various entrances to the hospitals. What to do in early stages of labour Signs that labour is beginning: Tightenings turn into contractions – you feel the uterus become tight then relax again, although can be irregular in length and strength to start they will gradually become longer, stronger and more frequent Backache – a heavy achy feeling, many women also report a heavy period type pain at this time A ‘show’ – in the early stages of labour you may find you have a sticky pink mucus discharge, this is called a show. The mucus forms a plug that seals the cervix during pregnancy and comes away as labour approaches. Sometimes the show can be a little bloody but if you feel you are losing a lot of blood you should contact the labour ward. Rupture of membranes – this is when the ‘waters’ break, meaning there is now a hole in the bag of membranes that the baby is laying in. You may notice a sudden gush or it could be a slow trickle, either way you should place a sanitary pad in your underwear and notify the labour ward. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are also signs of labour starting. It is advisable to stay at home for as long as possible in the early stages of labour, it can go on for a while and there are different ways to help you cope at home: RELAX! This helps you to remain calm and cope better. Have a bath – warm water has been shown to help ease the achy pains in early labour. If you have a pool at home it is safe to use in early labour without the midwife present. Try to remain upright and active – this helps the baby to move into a good position and move down into the pelvis. The baby’s head will then push on the cervix and encourage it to dilate (open). Remember to eat and drink – small and light and high in carbohydrate. This will help to keep your energy levels up. Massage – having your back massaged can help ease the pain of contractions. There are other alternative therapies that are thought to help with labour – yoga can help with keeping calm and breathing well, aromatherapy, reflexology, homeopathy and hypobirthing. Midwifes are happy to work with you if you would like any of these services whilst in labour, however midwives are not generally trained to provide these services and are unable to recommend one service over another. We would suggest you find an appropriately trained practitioner to attend the birth with you. Paracetamol is safe to take in pregnancy and may be of some benefit at this time. If you feel you are not coping and require stronger pain relief please phone labour ward. When to Call the Midwife The direct lines to Labour Wards are: Royal Sussex County Hospital – 01273 664793 Princess Royal Hospital – 01444 448669 Please always phone labour ward before leaving for the hospital, this means we can ensure there is a room and midwife available to care for you. In a real emergency phone an ambulance and they will notify us of your transfer. When to call: If the ‘waters’ break You are having regular contractions – every 5-7 minutes and lasting 45-60 seconds If you are in constant pain If you have any fresh red blood loss If you have any worries for your self or the baby Please do not forget to bring your notes with you any time you visit the hospital

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