I will set a scene for you…. A gentle walk across the countryside holding hands admiring the wonderful views, followed by your favourite curry, maybe some candle light, your favourite songs playing in the background. You may then watch a funny film followed by a massage with some essential oils and then an ‘early night’ hem hem.
Lots of you may see the scene as a relaxing and chilled date night, where as mothers approaching their due dates will be sure to recognise these umm.. activities as ways to induce birth. All fun ways to try when you are term to encourage those first contractions.
But have you ever considered using some of the ways to induce labour for coping strategies. Now I am certainly not recommending a spicy curry as a way to deal with tightenings, as that will surely not end well. But how about using the same date night theme for coping strategies for early labour? If there is any a time where we deserve that date night it would be in early labour… It makes total sense…
The hormone oxytocin is produced from anything that makes us feel loved, happy and relaxed. Which would be everything mentioned above in our date night setting. Just as a reminder, oxytocin is the hormone that will encourage our uterus to tighten in labour. It also encourages our bodies to release endorphins, which is our own naturual morphine. So anything that means we will have more oxytocin in our body is a good thing, right?
A night in with the other half is the perfect way to do this… Oh and did I mention that practice is the key to perfecting this strategy for coping with early labour. Yes that’s right? Tell your partners that weekly date nights have been prescribed to you… Midwifes orders. In our busy lives we forget how to relax, yet when we start labour we want our minds to relax to allow our bodies to get on with what it knows.
So let us look at planning those date nights in. When you plan your date night appeal to all of your sense:
Smell – Light a nice pregnancy candle, or use a pillow spray or your favourite (pregnancy safe) essential oils. You won’t be able to take a candle (other than LED ones) into hospital but a pregnancy candle will be a great help to your birth environment at home. In hospital there are essential oils for your use.
Sight- Look at your environment. Turn the lights to dim. Dim lighting always makes us feel more romantic, whilst in labour dim lights encourage melatonin which again acts up on our uterine muscles to cause tightenings. When you go into your hospital setting take some home, familiar comforts with you. Your own pillow or a nice photo/picture.
Feel- Massage and touch are great ways that directly encourage oxytocin. I am sure you will agree that this is ESSENTIAL to practice this with your partner in pregnancy.. maybe once a week, actually twice a week…. Every day…?
Sound- ‘If music be the sound of love, play on’ Music is incredibly powerful for our emotions. Who else plays Beyonce loud in their headphones when you want to feel like you are a strong, powerful woman… guilty! Likewise who puts on Ray LaMontague when you’re feeling nostalgic. Yes my music choices may not be on point but you get the idea. It’s amazing how many people discover their birth soundtrack months after birth and are left in floods of emotional, happy tears whilst sitting on the kitchen floor. Get yourself soundtrack, there are docking stations at the hospital or if in doubt get your own device and some headphones ready to go when the time comes.
Lastly taste… Food again can hold us so emotionally. Who reaches for the biggest bar of Galaxy when needing a little pick me up? I’m not saying during childbirth you will be able to scoff your favourite takeaway and the largest bar of chocolate but having some of your favourite snacks with you will help keep your energy levels up. Your uterus is a muscle and needs energy to contract. Most importantly keep hydrated.
As you would have used these date nights in as a way of relaxing. Your body will then began to associate all the smells, sights, tastes and sounds with those feelings of calm and relaxed. Therefore just playing that soundtrack or smelling that smell in labour will be enough for your body to start to release the oxytocin and give you effective tightenings and lots of endorphins. The more you put into this the more you get out so try and get in as much as possible. Although many of you will already have a favourite soundtrack (maybe your wedding song) or a favourite smell (your go to bath bomb, or candle) that you can just tap in to.
So for all those who are partial to a ‘to-do’ list here is a short one I have put together for you…
- Get together with your partner and schedule in some regular night-in date nights.
- Find your favourite smell/ essential oil.
- Find a good picture/photo. Holiday picture, happy place, family.
- Create a soundtrack.
- Get some massage oil (again a nice smelling one.)
- Compile a list of your favourite snacks for the hospital bag
- Keep the format the same and appeal to all (or as many) of your senses.
- Schedule in some more regular relaxing time on your own. Using a similar routine (ie. Bath, dim lighting, smell, music, hypnobirthing cd)
- Most importantly… Enjoy it!