Practical tips for a calm and relaxing birth environment involving your 5 senses
Updated: Feb 18, 2021
This week being Valentine’s Day, we share tips on what your birth partner can do to set up an environment that makes you feel safe and comfortable in labour, wherever you are - your very own birth ‘nest’. This promotes the production of Oxytocin, the hormone that fuels labour, also called the love hormone.
As they say - the best environment to give birth in is the exact same one that got the baby in there in the first place!
"What I’m talking about here is setting up an environment that appeals to your primal needs as a birthing woman. Essentially it’s about making your nest". - Hollie de Cruz
Candles or LED tea lights for the hospital, battery operated fairy lights, dim lighting, pictures of happy times and your favourite people and special items from home are all little ways to help make you feel safe and calm.
Covering any visible clocks with a photo or artwork can help to stay focused inwards and relax. Seeing the time might make you feel discouraged, or anxious which produces the hormone adrenaline which gets in the way of labour.
Putting up your birth affirmations around the room if you have been using these in pregnancy can be great little reminders to stay positive and that you have got this!
Essential oils on a tissue for inhaling, in a diffuser/oil burner, or in a spritz bottle mixed with water. Lots of oils are safe for use in labour such as: Relaxing lavender, Stimulating Clary Sage*, Refreshing Peppermint, Grounding Frankincense and Uplifting mandarin (*not to be used before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
A relaxing room spray - Mio Liquid Yoga room spray is a personal favourite
The familiar smell of a pillow or throw from home can also be very comforting in labour
Food: Think about packing lots of nourishing snacks for during (and after) the big event. A marathon effort requires FUEL e.g. cereal bars, flap jacks, yogurts-covered raisins, bananas and dried fruits. Many mums-to-be lose their appetite in established labour, so try to eat in early labour if you feel like it.
If you can’t face eating very much, Jelly babies or other sweets can be great to give you a little boost of energy. Remember to also pack your favourite treats for afterwards.
Birth partners don’t forget to pack enough food for yourself - a ‘hangry’ birth partner is not a particularly useful one and sharing snacks with a woman in labour is not recommended!
If you plan to use certain types of pain relief, or have a high risk of needing a general anaesthetic, your midwife might advise that you don't eat anything, just to be on the safe side so double check your hospital’s policy on this.
Drinks: Stay hydrated with plenty of drinks such as Coconut water, Powerade, Lucozade isotonic drinks, fruit juice cartons or just water. Remember to pack some straws!
What sounds do you find relaxing? It could be music: you could create a birth playlist with your partner with all your favourite tunes and sounds that evoke positive and safe memories; your Hypnobirthing tracks; relaxation scrips or birth affirmations read out by your partner, or just silence! A small bluetooth speaker in your hospital bag might come in handy.
If you would prefer a quiet atmosphere and conversations kept to a minimum to encourage Oxytocin to flow, let the midwives know in your birth plan and have a chat (or your birth partner) with them when you arrive at the hospital/birth centre or when they turn up to your home.
Your home comforts e.g. a hot water bottle or heat-up wheat bag, frozen flannels/handheld fan, your own pillow, a comfy nightie, blanket or a soft dressing gown that reminds you of home can help you feel safe and calm in labour.
Massage from your birth partner during or in between surges can be brilliant for easing discomfort, aiding relaxation and releasing endorphins our natural pain-killers. Birth partners, check out how to do a sacral pressure massage, upper back & shoulder massage or a technique called a double hip squeeze here.
Leaning into your birth partner for a big bear hug where you try to let go of all tension, or simply holding your birth partner’s hand during contractions can also feel supportive and calming.
Birth partners, some mums do not wish to be touched at all during labour or their wishes might change as labour progresses so do not be offended if she pushes you away one minute and demands a massage the next!
What helps keep you calm and relaxed? ❤️