- Publish Date
- Friday, 26 May 2017, 2:32PM
Everyone who has given birth has a tale to tell and advice to share - but it's often hard to sort fact from fiction.
And while you may spend months planning for the moment you go into labour, all that planning can often go out of the window in the flurry of activity after your waters break, the Daily Mail reports.
That's why two Bournemouth-based midwives, Samantha Pantlin and Alex Williams, established The Naked Midwives - a company that runs programmes to ensure women are as prepared as possible before they go into the delivery room.
Here, they've shared the five things they believe every woman should know before going into hospital to give birth - and debunk some of the common myths surrounding labour.
Men and massage
Samantha and Alex believe that massage is absolutely key - and plenty of research has proven it to be effective in reducing the pain endured by women in labour.
They explain that techniques can easily be taught to birth partners, however, men have to feel comfortable with this practice, especially if it’s not something the couple in question is used to.
"You ladies will be pleased to hear that we suggest men practice massage techniques at home within the last few weeks of pregnancy so it doesn’t feel alien to all involved at the time it’s needed," they say.
"Men can also feel a little embarrassed when massaging their partners in front of the midwife, but believe me we are grateful for the help."
What you really need to pack
There are 101 different lists on the internet that make suggestions on what to pack in your hospital bag.
"This is very simple; midwives need room to provide a safe environment to facilitate the birth of your pride and joy," they note.
"We aren’t saying you can’t pack your matching nightie, dressing gown and bath mat, but this can remain in the car.
"In our experience, the main items you will need during and immediately after birth can be whittled down to a list of six."
1. Face cloth to cool your forehead during labour: This is often forgotten and you end up with mushed up, wet, NHS paper towel that absorbs the heat and become just damp and warm within seconds, slapped across your forehead)
2. Big, thick, heavy duty sanitary towels: Labour can be a messy business as I’m sure you can imagine! So, don’t go for the ultra slim kind, they just don’t cut it and make you sweat
3. Pack of XL cheap pants (please no paper pants, no explanation needed!)
4. Laundry bag: For your soiled labour wear/underwear, and not forgetting babies may be tiny, but they sure make a lot of mess
5. Small toiletry bag containing basics plus lip balm and hairband.
6. Nappies and a hat for baby: As midwives we are advocates of skin to skin following birth and would encourage this where possible.
Although it’s tempting, there is no rush to put baby into the fabulous outfit you’ve had hanging in the wardrobe for the past 3 months! Enjoy the time … enjoy the bonding, the hat is just to keep the head warm.
Choosing the right antenatal class and the latent phase of labour
Labour can be long and unpredictable - especially for first-time mums.
A class that focuses heavily on what midwives call the latent phase of labour (the early stages) can really get you started off on the right foot.
"There are lots of techniques that you and your birth partner can be shown to help you conquer the fight or flight sense of imbalance at the beginning of labour. Get this stage right and the rest will follow," they say.
Choose your birth partner wisely
The two women say it is important to remember your birth partner does not necessarily need to be your loved one. In certain cases, this can actually cause confusion and self-doubt.
As they explained: "When loved ones see each other in discomfort, it can be a really difficult scenario; people will act out of character as there is little they can do.
"Sometimes it is more beneficial for women to have the support of someone close who can focus solely on the job in hand."
The poo conversation
There’s no sugar-coating this: it’s common for women to open their bowels during labour. However, during the latent phase of labour (the early stages) it is often the case that your body will naturally empty the bowel, as most women will experience an upset stomach and this is indeed a positive sign that you may be going into labour.
"If this is not the case then please don’t let this worry you or cause anxiety. For the normal physiological mechanics of labour to take place, it’s helpful to have any possible obstructions out of the way," they say.
"In our experience midwives are very discrete, we don’t jump up and down waving a red flag we are just reassured that the baby now has more room to make their entrance.
"It’s also a good idea to pre-warn birth partners and maybe ask them to kindly remain at the talking end as we can’t predict some people’s reactions if they are ill-prepared."
This article was first published on Daily Mail and is republished here with permission.