Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: "Birth Skills"

When I first became pregnant my younger sister, who had given birth to a baby 8 months before, told me to buy the book "Birth Skills" by Juju Sundin. I was very skeptical that it could do anything to help but she kept insisting that I read it just in case I found anything that helped during labour. I read the whole book a couple of weeks before I went into labour and I am so glad that I did.

At the beginning of the book the author says these things:

"Labour pain is healthy pain. As labour progresses and the pain really established its presence, there will be no time to make decisions about how you will handle each contraction..." "... it is essential that you understand that labour pain is healthy pain. It is caused by the uterine muscle actually working." pg. 7

All the skills that she teaches in the book are based around this principle:

"If you bombard your nervous system with non-painful thoughts and physical and emotional actions, you can dull your pain further through distraction and redirected focus of attention".

Basically what that means is that if, when you are in pain, you can take your mind off the pain or distract yourself in some way, you won't focus on the pain as much and it won't feel so bad. Also, if you are focusing on the pain, you tend to panic and freeze up. If you have something else to focus on then you feel more in control.

When we are in labour adrenalin is pumping through our body like crazy.

So... what can you do to take your mind off the pain? When labour first begins it is important to try and rest - you don't want to wear yourself out too early. Once the pain is more intense, try any or all of these strategies.

1. Focus on your legs not your pain.
* Use the movement of your legs to burn off adrenalin and take your mind off the pain.

2. Breathing and vocalisation
"Simple: pain makes you hold your breath! If you hold your breath in the first stage of labour you make the pain worse". pg. 49

3. Visualisation.
* Visualise images or events in your mind.

4. Stress balls.
* Squeeze or bang the balls together to help get your mind off the pain.

5. Keywords
* Repeat words or phrases over and over.

My Final Tips

1. Pray. Pray before you go into labour and during labour. Ask God to give you strength and peace.

2. Take some comforting verses from the Bible in with you to read or memorise a couple of verses to say over and over in your head.

3. When you get to the hospital inform the doctor or midwives of your desire for a natural birth. Ask them not to offer pain medication unless you ask for it or unless it is medically necessary.

4. If you are induced and the pain starts quickly, start using the strategies straight away if you need to. If you find one or more birth skill isn't working for you try something else. (I told my husband about the skills and he reminded me of different things to try when he could see that something wasn't helping).

5. If you have tried everything to help with the pain, do not feel like a failure if you need medication. Every labour and birth is different, no one should judge your way of doing things.

6. Nothing comes before the safety of the baby and the mother so listen to the advice of the midwives and doctors. The end goal is to have your beautiful baby healthy and safe in your arms. It doesn't matter so much how they get there.

7. If you still have a few days left before you go into labour, try and sit forward with your legs apart as much as possible on a lounge or on a fit ball (as opposed to lying down or putting your feet up). This will encourage the baby to be facing the right way when it comes out which makes labour easier.