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The birthing journey is a very special time in a woman's life. Whatever path your birth takes, your ability to make decisions that are right for you and your baby depend on you being an active participant. Increasing your knowledge to better understand your choices, are all part of the process of your journey. At Cairns Hospital we provide women centred care which means it's all about your unique needs, expectations and aspirations, offering a variety of measures to assist you to feel as comfortable as possible. If everything is going as planned, you can expect to be looked after by a midwife with doctors on call 24/7 should the need arise.

Preparing for labour

Women use all kinds of things to help them to prepare for labour. Many women find that the techniques mentioned below help them to cope with labour and reduce the use of drugs for pain relief. Having encouraging and supportive people caring for you is also very important. Some women find the following methods helpful to best prepare them physically and emotionally.

  • Yoga
  • Relaxation exercise
  • Hypnotherapy - a state of relaxation
  • Childbirth education - for you and your support person
  • Reading about pregnancy and birth

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Active birth

Being active through your labour and birth can help you to manage contractions and to relax your mind and body. It is important to understand the benefits, risks and alternative methods available when deciding which techniques to use. Your support people can assist you with some of these techniques. Knowing your options assists you to make a choice that is right for you. These may include but are not limited to:

Being active

Benefits: being upright and active uses gravity to support effective contractions and helps baby move into position. It can also act as a distraction to the contractions

  • Varying positions during labour such as: standing, walking, lying on your side, leaning on your partner or support person or squatting
  • Using the bath for warm water immersion
  • Using the shower and warm water over the area where you feel the most pain
  • Placing a hot pack over the area where you feel most pain
  • Acupressure and acupuncture
  • Sterile water injections
  • Maintaining good hydration by drinking fluids
  • Maintaining energy levels with small and regular snacks

Being relaxed

Benefits: promotes endorphin and oxytocin production, reduces the production of adrenaline which can cause the fight / flight response slowing labour down.

  • Breathing the tension away during and between contractions
  • Women need a quiet and safe place in which to birth their babies so it is important to keep the noise and disruption in the room only to what is required
  • Listen to music that you find calming
  • Aromatherapy (concentrated essential oils added to massage oil or oil burner)
  • Dim the lights in your room
  • Have someone give you a massage
  • Use visualisation - positive imagery to assist relaxation
  • Hypnotherapy - using hypnosis as a state of relaxation, to achieve changes in psychological aspects of pain and anxiety.
  • Choosing your support people carefully, make sure you discuss your birth preferences with them and have support people who support your decisions

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Support people

It is important to think about who you want with you in labour - your support people. Usually you have your partner and maybe one or two other special people. Don't feel pressured by what is expected, rather choose the people that will make you feel comfortable, support you, know what you want if you can't tell us at the time, and that you want to share this special time with.

You will find a maximum of up to 3 support people should provide you with adequate care and support.

It is advisable to make a list of the telephone numbers of people you may wish to phone after your baby is born. Then designate one person whom a support person will telephone with information regarding your progress during labour and the details after the baby is born.

Your support person can:

  • Support you in upright and active positions
  • Help to make you physically comfortable
  • Offer emotional support and provide positive encouragement
  • Hold a hot pack in place
  • Be there for you

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Birthing rooms and equipment

Being active during the birth can assist in shortening the length of your labour. Feeling comfortable and relaxed is also important and the 9 birthing rooms are designed with this in mind:

  • Music (CD/Ipod connectivity for your own choice of music). Relaxation music available on request
  • Massage Oil, you are also welcome to supply your own
  • Oil burner (electric) if you choose to bring essential oils in from home
  • Heat Packs - supplied by hospital
  • Shower and bath
  • Birthing Ball: gym style ball that is comfortable to sit on, encouraging pelvic rocking and positioning to help in labour, and allow for your support people to massage your back at the same time.
  • Floor mats to kneel on the floor
  • Birthing stool
  • Fridge for you to store drinks and food for the support people. It is a good idea to bring some lollies such as barley sugar to keep your energy levels up.
  • We also support TENS and hypnobirthing which you will need to arrange prior to coming into birth your baby
  • Baby resuscitation equipment is located in every birthing room if it is needed

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Monitoring your baby

Monitoring your baby's well-being in labour is performed using a doppler or a Cardiotocograph (CTG) machine.

A Doppler is a small hand held device used to check your baby's heart rate intermittently throughout labour.

Cardiotocograph (CTG) is a machine that monitors and records your baby's heart rate and your contractions continuously. This type of monitoring is recommended for women when risk factors for mother or baby have been identified antenatally, at the start of labour or have developed during labour.

Your midwife will discuss with you, the most appropriate method for your labour.

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The first breastfeed

How babies are born has a big effect on how well they can breastfeed. Pain relief choices, length of labours, skin to skin contact immediately after birth and your baby's first breastfeed are all important.

We go to extra effort to keeps babies happy until they can have their first breastfeed. Routine activities like weighing the baby, doing routine baby checks and giving babies their Vitamin K injections are all delayed to allow mum and baby the best chance to get off to a good start. Read more on skin to skin contact or discuss this with your midwife.

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Last updated: 23 April 2015