How acronyms can H.E.L.P you through your birth experience
Studies have shown that acronyms help us retain information. And, with birth, practice is important! The more something feels comfortable and ingrained, the more likely it is to come out in a birth scenario.
The acronym below can help you and your support team assess, digest, and remember important information to help better guide you through your birthing experience.
Breathe. Breathing is a powerful tool. There is no one right way to breathe. However, we want to avoid holding our breath in any birth situation, and call upon deep, full body breathing. Extending your exhales can help your body get into a deep state of relaxation. Our breath can act as our guide, helping us extend over the many changes we face in the birth experience.
Urinate. During labour, you’ll want to hydrate to keep your body functioning optimally You’ll also want to be letting go of this water frequently, to make space for baby and to eliminate any discomfort you might be feeling. Aim for emptying your bladder at least once every hour.
Rest and relaxation. Contractions (also known as surges or waves) are work for your body and mind. The good news is that there is more time to relax than to work during a birth. Your surges will last from 30-90 seconds, depending on what stage of labour you are in. The rests between surges will slide down from 30 minutes to 30 seconds as your labour progresses. Take these breaks seriously, calling on your comfort techniques (i.e. massage, slow dancing, rocking, child’s pose, affirmations etc.) during all of your in between times.
Positions. Studies continuously show that moving during labour is good for both mama and baby. Trust in your body and your support team and move as frequently as you need. Often times, these movements will come intuitively. However, having an awareness of optimal positions beforehand can help get your body ready to call on them. Click here for trusted positions for birth.
Environment. Our birthing environment matters. Think about your birth space – what do you want to see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? All of these factors can influence your mental, physical and psychological well being. Some ideas to consider are:
- printing or writing out affirmations
- displaying inspiring photos
- creating a birthing playlist
- using an oil diffuser, L.E.D tea lights or aromatherapy
- preparing snacks and smoothies
- packing comfortable clothing and comforting items, like your own pillow
Encouragement. Like with any personal feat, encouragement can empower you through your birth. Having a strong support team for a birth can make all the difference. Ensure that, prenatally, you’ve talked through words, affirmations and physical ways (fist bump, anyone?) that resonate with you as encouragement techniques.
Birth is the ultimate feat. Setting up physical, mental, and psychological strategies can help you come out of the birth with feelings of accomplishment and ownership over the experience. You’ve got this!
Kate is a Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, Infant Sleep Educator and Yoga Instructor, currently living in Toronto, ON. When she’s not supporting new families on their parenting journey, she is running after her wonderfully active 2-year-old twins. She loves exploring the ravines of the city, drinking green tea and green smoothies (in large mugs), and the colour purple.