With just over 6 weeks to go until I give birth to my second child, I have had to start getting myself organised! Now, I don’t have a very strict “birth plan” per se, because all babies have their own agenda and will come when and how they wish….and I think if you are too rigid in your plans, this can create stress, anxiety and possibly even disappointment if things don’t go exactly according to plan (which they never do, really).
However, I do think being a little bit organised with a birth KIT is somewhat of a good idea. I had a collection of goodies that I took with me to Olivia’s birth – some which were very helpful, others not so much (but each to their own, so I’m not going to say what DIDN’T help, as it could very well help you). Now, as an experienced campaigner (haha!), I have a few more tools to throw in my Mary Poppins Bag.
So here we go….
Can I please recommend that you have these on hand BEFORE you go into labour? Seriously buy them now. I didn’t have these on hand for Olivia’s birth and, when my waters broke at home, all I had on hand to wear for the 1hr car trip to the birthing centre was a newborn nappy. Yep – I wore a newborn nappy for at least an hour of my life. My midwife had a good ol’ chuckle when she asked me if I had “filled my nappy” as we stopped to fill up the car with fuel**. Maybe this is a good time to let those of you first time mothers-to-be that your dignity kind of goes out the window during the whole birth process. Ignore what Instagram tries to tell you. It’s beautiful, but it ain’t pretty, if you know what I mean.
**Note – also a good idea to ALWAYS have a full tank of petrol from about 37 weeks onwards
If your birthing place of choice allows you to have music, then create a playlist and take it with you, mama. I took my ipod and docking station and listened to a variety of tunes – Tijuana Cartel, Deep Forest, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks (judge away, if you will, but I am a country girl at heart. And who doesn’t love a bit of MJ!?). I think Olivia was actually born to Michael Jackson. Ha!
Choose a variety of music that helps to relax you, to energise you, to elevate your mood…. Dancing around the room a little bit (not too vigourous, please), might actually help to encourage things along. On that note – do try to keep moving and stay as upright as possible during the whole thing, especially contractions (even if it means you’re on your knees) – let gravity help. Let ANYTHING help, right? It’s just that when you go on your back, you’re working AGAINST gravity, and bubs has a bit more of a hurdle to make his/her way into the world.
Have you heard of “Labour-Aide”? It’s a healthy “Gatoraide” to have during pregnancy that contains glucose, electrolytes, minerals and more to help you get through your marathon. I used THIS RECIPE from Mommypotamus and made up (and froze) a few bottles at around 35 weeks gestation. When I made it, this drink tasted wonderful. However, in labour, I found it too sweet and had to dilute it with water. Still worked a treat in terms of rehydrating me. Again – go with what works for you. But you WILL need rehydration. Please don’t get your regular, sugar and artificial colour-filled electrolyte drinks.
I honestly didn’t feel like eating much during the birth, and that ginger stir-fry from the local Thai place that I thought would help with my nausea in labour was a REALLY bad idea. Came straight back up.
Having some small snacks on hand is probably a good idea – boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, fresh and dried fruit, smoothies/chia puddings. I also made a batch of sweet potato ginger brownies from Civilized Caveman (probably one of my favourite snacks EVER. In fact, George was kind enough to let me publish it in my book, Holistic Nutrition).
Sadly, I didn’t have these with Olivia’s birth, but I am excited to have them this time around. Here are the ones that will be my must-haves:
- Lavender– to stimulate circulation, provide calm, reduce anxiety and fear, and to act as an antiseptic. One of my friends also suggested using lavender as a face spray during labour, which I love the idea of!
- Clary sage – to help support and strengthen contractions if they stall (do not use until you are full term, please)
- Frankincense – a drop massaged onto lower back to help ease pain and to calm towards end of 1st stage of labour. Frank can also be used to help heal any tears (though it is my wish for you that this will not be required). I will also be applying 1 drop of Frank onto bubs’ crown and down the spine to help him feel that all is well, and to aid in our bonding experience (many cultures do this as a religious practice)
- Peppermint – to help with energy levels, to decrease nausea (along with ginger and/or lemon – I might actually add these into my labour-aide this time), to aid back labour, and to freshen smelly post-vomit breath (what!? It’ll happen – I want you to be prepared for it. Oh and you may poo as well. Totally normal. Best you expect it. Then if it doesn’t happen, you can be pleasantly surprised. Maybe make your partner aware of this, too. Yep – I told Aaron ahead of time – I may poo. It’s normal. Maybe make up a spray bottle with some essential oils to waft around your butt. Kidding. Kind of)
- Basil – to relieve pain and to give me the strength I need to keep going (in that moment when I say I’m going to die – PS this is a good sign that you’re nearing the finish line….maybe)
- Lavender Peace – this calming blend will be in my diffuser to reduce stress, and create a sense of wellbeing
- Balance – this grounding blend I will be applying to the soles of my feet to keep me, well, grounded. It’s a very empowering blend. One of my faves. Also good for anyone going in for a C-section to help give you a feeling of calm and control.
I would ONLY recommend pure, therapeutic grade essential oils, such as doTERRA. You can read about why I love them HERE. And how to get amongst them HERE. Feel free to also email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like some personal suggestions or help.
Homeopathic birth kit
I had this for Olivia’s birth and it truly was a life-saver. It was especially helpful in reducing stress and in expelling my placenta (and avoiding a shot of syntocin to do so). I grabbed mine from Linda Baker at Intelligent Health, and would always advise working with a qualified homeopath on this – for guidance and to get good quality products.
To help heal your lady garden….especially if you have any tears. I had a few labial grazes that needed stitches with Olivia, and found THIS SPRAY really helpful.
But this time I’m making my own using this recipe (courtesy of doTERRA). I have since made this up for a friend who had some very nasty tears, and she found it wonderfull soothing…..
- 6 tablespoons witch hazel
- 4 tablespoons filtered water
- 5 drops Lavender oil
- 5 drops Frankincense oil
- Combine witch hazel and water in a small glass spray bottle
- Add Lavender oil and Frankincense oil
- Shake well and apply to perineum, or spray onto maternity pads for a cooling and healing effect
I don’t have very “porn-star-esque” pointy nipples (TMI, perhaps?), which made it hard for Olivia to latch on at the start. So I used nipple shields….for about 8 weeks. Yep, they were annoying an inconvenient, but they meant that I could breastfeed my daughter. As a nice side effect, I didn’t have any issues with cracked nipples!
If you don’t need them, don’t use them, but maybe have them on hand just in case.
Further to my previous point….. I started collecting, and freezing, colostrum at around 35 weeks gestation (as that was when my breasts started producing it) in little 1mL syringes. And I am glad I did. As I mentioned, Olivia had issues latching on at the start so, at 3AM after she was born (and I had been awake for 24hrs, since my contractions started), we were all a little bit exhausted. It was nice to be able to syringe a little of this liquid gold into her and drift off to sleep with her tucked into my top.
Chat to your midwife about this – don’t be too aggressive with nipple stimulation in the later weeks, as it may trigger contractions.
A sense of humour
Try and have a bit of a laugh during labour (this is where your partner needs to bring their A-game). Remember this:
“As above – so below”
Laughter and joy help your mouth and jaw relax, and the wonderful Ina May Gaskin (I highly recommend her book) said this about labour:
“The state of relaxation of the mouth and jaw is directly correlated to the ability of the cervix [and] the vagina..to open to full capacity.” She goes on to say, “women whose mouths and throats are open and relaxed during labor and birth rarely need stitches after childbirth.”
So….have a laugh, or at least breathe through your profanities that you scream out.
Bonus: Cabbage leaves.
Not so much in your birth kit, but have these frozen for when you get home and your milk comes in. They REALLY help with engorgement. Sounds silly, but they are very effective. You will literally be able to cook cabbage with the heat radiating off those babies!
What about you? Any other things that you have in your kit? If you’re an experienced campaigner, please comment below with any other words of wisdom!
Good luck in your birth, beautiful mama! (Not that you’ll need it – birth is the easy part. It’s what comes after that’s the hard part!)