Creating The Perfect Birthing Nest

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To create the perfect birthing environment there are five elements that will help you feel relaxed and secure to birth your baby.

• Warm

• Safe

• Private

• Quiet

• Dark

When you have a mixture of these five elements your body will release the hormone you need for labour to progress (oxytocin), and the hormones that will help you through labour (endorphins). If you feel safe and undisturbed, you will be able to focus on giving birth to your baby.

So whether you're planning to give birth at home, in a birth centre, or in hospital, take some time to think about how you will create these five elements.

Plan what you will need with your birth partner. It will be his/her job to create that environment, and to protect it once your labour has started. They will be the guardian of your birth space, and your midwife can help to adapt the birth room to meet your needs.

Create a nesting area

This may involve moving furniture around or softening the room with cushions and blankets. At home you can use the furniture as props. You could hold on to the kitchen surface and rock your way through a contraction. Or you may prefer to lean over the sofa and doze in between contractions. In hospital, you may choose to ask for any unnecessary technical equipment to be moved out of sight.

Make sure that the bed is pushed to the side of the room to reduce the chance of you lying flat on your back on it. Use mats, beanbags, cushions, blankets and a birth ball to make yourself comfortable. Remember those upright positions will help your labour to progress.

Adjust the heating and lighting

At home use candles, tea lights, dimmer switches and fairy lights to make soft, calm, ambient lighting. Whatever the season, you want to be comfortably warm, so keep out draughts, turn up the thermostat if you need to, or put the fire on.

However, it's always hot in hospitals! Use dimmer switches, if there are any, to adjust the lighting. You could take along battery-operated lights which you can buy from hardware or camping shops or garden centres. Some hospital units are better designed than others, but there will always be an anglepoise lamp. If all else fails, turn the lamp towards the wall and turn off overhead lighting to create a soft glow.

Shut the doors and draw the curtains

Don't be afraid to close doors or draw the curtains. Privacy is not just about being watched, it's also about being heard. You need to feel able to move around, make noise, and wear what's comfortable. Playing music may help you to feel more confident about making noise as well as filtering out other people's noise. Remember, when the time comes that deep birthing sound will come from you regardless, you will be in the zone doing what you were born to do.

Have someone with you who you trust

Continuous support from someone you trust right from the start of labour will help your labour to progress. It will help you feel safe and protected. Your supporter could be your partner, a close friend or relative, or a doula. You could have two supporters lined up so that one can take over from the other as your labour progresses.

Keep chat to a minimum and turn off your mobile

Distractions can be useful, and laughter is good for you, particularly early on. However, as labour becomes more established, it will take more of your energy and concentration.

During contractions you will need to focus on your breathing. Use the different breathing techniques you’ve learnt inner LushTums classes and in the Birthing Resource Centre. There and the birthing moves will be the ace up your sleeve.

A ringing phone or constant text messages can intrude on your privacy, and even produce adrenaline. This can interfere with the hormone oxytocin which you need to give birth. If the room is dark, people will be quieter. People automatically drop their voice in a darker room. Likewise, playing soft music or ambient noise prevents people from getting nervous and talking to fill the silence.

Surround yourself with familiar smells

You can use essential oils to help your labour. Or you might prefer familiar, homely smells. Nuzzling into your partner's neck, or a pillow or throw from home, may work for you.

Cover any visible clocks

It can be useful to check in with the contractions every so often, but you don't want to count or time every one. If you measure labour in terms of the number of minutes or contractions, this is how it will pass.

You don't know how long labour will be, and time doesn't mean anything until afterwards. Try to focus on being in the moment. Endorphins will help with this, as they can alter your perception of time, which is perfect for labour!

Try to create the same sort of atmosphere as you would for a romantic night in. After all, oxytocin is the hormone of love and lactation, as well as labour. It helped you to fall in love with your partner and conceive your baby, and it will help you to bond with and breastfeed your baby after the birth, too.

Oxytocin and labour work best under the same conditions as when you make love. This is when you feel safe, secure, warm and undisturbed. Follow your intuition and how you are feeling moment by moment, empowering yourself to ask for what you need when you need it and changing anything that doesn’t feel right. Even asking people from the medical profession or even your family to leave the room is absolutely ok as long as you and the baby are progressing well.

Feeling warm & safe by creating a private sanctuary to bring your child into the world is key and can be accomplished in any environment you find yourself; its good for you and its great for your baby.