Coping Before and During Labour

We hope this page will give you some ideas of how to manage during this “no man’s land” between waiting to be induced and meeting your baby. Some parents find that this time is really difficult for them. Some find that it is a time where they are numb or are at peace, as their baby is still safe inside.

doc+holding+handSupport: We cannot stress how important this tool is. Gather – or accept – as much support as you can. You may have planned to labour and birth with just your partner present. Now that things have changed you might find that you both need some support. After all your partner will also be meeting their baby, very much hoping and wishing it could be in different circumstances.

 

Some things to consider when seeking support at this time might be:

  • Midwife – You could find out from the hospital which midwife might be on duty, or whether you can request to have (or not have) somebody particular present. Your hospital may have a specialist bereavement midwife who will be available for additional support.
  • Doula – A doula can be present throughout your labour and birth. They can support you emotionally, advocate for you, suggest strategies during labour as things progress. Although most doulas will have the skills to support parents in a variety of situations, you may wish to search and approach a bereavement doula. Take a look at our doula services here.
  • Family members – Sometimes the people we turn to when we are frightened or hurting are our parents. This time is also painful for them. They want to take your pain away, they may feel helpless that they cannot protect you from this. They may also be the people who know you the best, who have been through other crises with you.
  • Friends – Maybe there is a friend who has given birth, or had a loss who is particularly supportive to you at this time. They may be able to listen to you, be a shoulder to cry on, help you arrange your day to day life so that everything runs smoothly.
  • Online – There are organisations which can provide support, information and resources online. This may be invaluable to you planning, and help you to find other people’s stories.
  • Helplines – There are some organisations which have telephone helplines which may be of assistance to you, should you wish to speak to someone who understands and who is more distanced from you.

 

writing+a+letterWriting: Writing a journal, blog or simply free writing for a short time can be really helpful. You can handwrite or type your feelings. This can help you to process what’s happened, what is to come and how you’re feeling about it. You can use this as a tool to release some of the thoughts from your mind- you need never read it again.

Or you can re read what you have written and highlight thoughts or problems which may be able to be resolved- and note down what will help. Problem solving in this way can mean that things feel less bleak, as you feel as if you can “do something”.

You can also share your writing with friends or family, helping them to understand how you are feeling, without needing to speak if you are finding this hard.

 

Affirmation: An affirmation is a positive statement which can help you to counteract difficult feelings or worries. It can be used as a focal point to support you – for example repeating the same sentence in your mind over and over. Affirmations are often used by people during labour. They might think to themselves “this sensation will pass” or “this will soon be over” or “one step at a time.” An affirmation can be something you create yourself with your own words. You can keep it in your mind, or write it down. There are many examples of birth affirmations online if you cannot think of one.

 

Talking: Talking to someone who cares for you can be very helpful. You may have a specific friend or family member who you rely on at difficult times, someone who is a good listener, or who has good problem solving skills. It is important to remember that the death of a baby affects a wide circle around you. It surprised me just how many of our friends and family – and even relative strangers were affected by Finley’s death. It can affect people in different ways. You’ll find some people step closer, trying to do anything they can to help. Unfortunately some people may be so distressed by, or uncomfortable with your situation that they become more distant.

You might find it difficult to talk to people, not knowing what to say, where to start, or feeling worried about what will happen if you become upset. It might be easier to speak about plans, ideas rather than how you are feeling.

There are also professionals that you can speak to for support. You may have been given someone to contact from the hospital. You can call the labour ward, any time day or night to talk to a midwife. You might be able to speak with the Chaplain, or bereavement midwife. You can contact Sands on their helpline on 020 7436 5881 (The helpline is open: Monday to Friday: 9.30am – 5.30pm,Tuesday and Thursday evenings: 6pm – 10pm).

If you are worried about your emotional wellbeing, especially if you are feeling like you want to end your own life, or harm yourself in some way, your GP or midwife will be able to refer you to mental health crisis support.

The important thing to remember is that, although you may feel like you are the only person in the world this has happened to, you’re not alone. There are people who can support you at this time. Please reach out.

 

Music: Listening to music can be a helpful tool. Depending on your choice of music it can help to release or express emotions, or can help to distract from difficult emotions.

 

Meditation/natal hypnotherapy: It can be difficult to sleep when you are worried or find yourself in a difficult situation. Getting some rest is important to you, as labour may be tiring emotionally and physically. Natal Hypnotherapy have some useful resources. You can purchase a cd/download a lovely piece of music, or a guided meditation for labour/birth. Most have been created for live birth, so it might be helpful to e mail Maggie to discuss your situation and find out what would be most suitable. She has released a version called Overcoming Birth Trauma which may be helpful for after your birth.

You can find many guided meditations on you tube. You can listen to these to help pass time, to help you relax. You may find that they help you to get to sleep as well.

 

Changing positions, moving around: Your midwife will be able to advise you about positions that you can adopt during labour to help during contractions and to help the physical process of your birth.

 

birth+ball+with+dad+and+midwife

 

Distraction: This is a really useful coping tool. Distraction is basically anything which takes your mind away from your worries, or off your current situation. You may find it difficult to concentrate on one thing for very long, so changing activities might be helpful. It might be reading (check that it is suitable material), doing puzzles or crosswords, playing on games on your phone, drawing, writing, talking. During a contraction you can use distraction to help you, for example by counting backwards from 300, making lists in your mind, thinking about a place you find relaxing and describing it in detail.

 

Research: Whilst researching may not seem to be a traditional coping strategy, I mention it here because many parents report spending lots of time online following the news that their baby has died (and continue to do so after returning home following the birth of their baby.) They may be searching for stories which give them hope, stories of how other parents have survived. They might search for sources of support, information about making memories or for items they may need for their baby (such as clothes). They may spend time researching things that may be needed to put in place for the funeral. The reason this can be a useful tool to help you cope is that it provides a distraction, it takes up time and can be done any time day or night (perhaps helpful if you are unable to sleep).

 

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