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10 labour tips that every woman should know

woman giving birth

There's a point in every pregnancy when you realise you're actually going to have to give birth – but women who have been there, done that, and not quite blocked it all from memory yet, have a wealth of nifty tricks to share.

What to do

Get moving

''Keep walking, walking, walking for as long as you are able. Pace those corridors! Lean on your partner or the wall and breathe through the contractions, then get walking again.''

feet

Try to relax

“If you tense up, try keeping your jaw slack and your mouth open – it relaxes everything.''

woman in labour

Don't be afraid to ask for help

''If you want pain relief ask for it, or make sure your partner knows to suggest it to you if he thinks you're struggling and need it.''

pain relief

What to pack

Raid your sports kit

''Tennis balls! Your husband/midwife/anyone can give you a much more effective back rub with a ball, and if you're able to stand you can use them on your own by placing one between you and a wall."

tennis ball

Be prepared for hunger pangs

“Take lots of snacks. I didn't eat for the whole labour as I wasn't in the mood but I was ravenous once it was over. I ate a whole pack of rich tea biscuits!”

woman eating

Boost your energy

“If you can't face food, drink something sugary (like a sports drink) frequently to keep your fuel up.”

woman drinking

Get organised

Pack two bags. One with essentials for you and baby, one packed for an extended stay that can be brought in if needed. I took far too many things that did not get used – I looked like I was about to fly out for a two-week holiday!”

hospital bag baby essentials

When the time comes

Listen to your body

''When the time for pushing comes, go with gravity. Don't fight the labour. That was the best thing I was told. Baby is coming out whether you like it or not. So listen to your body – let it do what it knows to do and go with it."

woman in labour

Be realistic

“Don't expect birth to be wonderful. You will be disappointed. So many first-time mothers I know carried around a sense of disappointment for months afterwards because it wasn't the experience they expected. Just go with it and get your baby out, however it happens, you are still a hero and there is no failure.”

newborn

And remember…

''Trust in yourself that you can do it – your body was designed to do it.''

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