Lucy Coe, lead midwife for Midwifery Led Care at The Kensington Wing, offers her top tips on preparing for pregnancy and labour…
1. Antenatal education is key
It is very important to educate yourself during your pregnancy. Knowledge is power! Your midwife will always explain things to support you through this new chapter in your life, but doing some research yourself along the way can really help us out.
The Kensington Wing midwives offer mix and match classes, so you can choose specific topics to attend classes on, such as pain relief in labour, or how to change a nappy.
2. Always trust your instincts
Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, then please call your midwife for their advice – this is what we are here for!
We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we are always available to talk and offer advice over the phone. We may even invite you into the hospital for an extra check-up for your reassurance.
3. What’s normal for others may not be normal for you
No two pregnancies or birth experiences are the same. Remember – this is your pregnancy, and your birth.
Friends, relatives and even social media can be quick to offer advice and reassurance, but the best person to ask is your midwife.
4. We’re not judging you
This is something I am so passionate about! Midwives are here to support you and try to facilitate your birth experience as best we can.
There is nothing more satisfying to us than supporting you in achieving your ideal birth. For some, this may be a water birth with minimal pain relief, and for others this may be an epidural as soon as possible.
We will support all your choices within reason – safety is paramount. We will provide you with all the information necessary for you to make an informed choice about your care.
We are all working towards the same goal- a healthy mummy, with a healthy baby.
5. No question is too trivial
We have heard it all! Midwives love answering questions. We want you to feel empowered to ask us any queries you have – no question is a silly question.
6. Having a c-section does not mean your body has failed you
Midwives understand that it can be exceptionally difficult to have a caesarean section if you were hoping for a vaginal delivery.
Your body has not failed you! Just think of what you have achieved. In some cases, a caesarean section is a safer method of birth, for the health and wellbeing of mum and baby.
7. Your birth plan isn’t set in stone
Plans are great, but when it comes to birth there are many different paths it can take. Some of these paths are dependent on what is happening in the moment, which brings me back to an earlier point of antenatal education being so important.
On The Kensington Wing, my team encourages our parents to write about their ‘birth preferences’ rather than ‘plans’, because it can be disappointing if a plan doesn’t come together.
8. Ensure you have a supportive birthing partner
Set your expectations! What do you find most helpful? Talk to your birthing partner before your big day. Reminding you to drink throughout your labour, offering you regular snacks, or even being in control of your music playlist can all be helpful jobs for them to do.
Midwives also make excellent birthing partners. There’s nothing we like better than providing back or foot massages or mixing aromatherapy oils to help you relax.
9. Labour is a marathon, not a race
It can be normal for your first birth to take some time, with second and subsequent babies usually (but not always!) being quicker. Labour is definitely a marathon, not a race.
Hydration is very important in labour and helps to keep things on track. Energy drinks can be useful to keep your sugar levels up, too.
Snacks are also a great idea, such as bananas or boiled sweets. It’s normal to not feel hungry in labour, so snacking little and often definitely helps.
10. Take time to get to know your baby
Relax! You’ll never get those initial precious moments back. As soon as possible (and if it’s not being done already!), dim the lights and place your baby skin to skin.
Spend as much time as you need getting to know your new family member. Meanwhile, your midwife will be busying themselves making you some well-deserved toast and a lovely cup of tea!