I’m not a list person. There’s something about spending time making a list that irritates me. It takes my hubby about as long to make a to-do list as it takes me to just do the stuff on the list. Yet, when it came to my last pregnancy and labour, I made a list long before the day of things to do when contractions start.
This list will differ from person to person, but I thought I’d share it with you, in case you’re not sure what to do ‘next’.
In Hollywood, your waters break in a great gush and everyone rushes off to hospital in a mad dash. In reality, very few women’s water’s break in the shopping centre, on the train or as you’re about to set off on holiday. Of course it does happen, but for the most part, in real life, you have time – if your waters even break before contractions start!
Without further ado, my list for what to do when I go into labour if you’re having a homebirth:
1) Drop a note through the neighbour’s doors to let them know labour has begun
This was a job assigned to my dad. I’d written the notes in the final trimester, to let our four immediate neighbours (we lived in a maisonette) know that I was having a homebirth and that there might be some disturbance and to apologise in advance. It turned out after the fact that none of them heard a thing, but I still thought it polite and will do it again.
2) Clear birthing room of all obstructions
We were setting the birthpool up in the kitchen and didn’t want dinner dishes in the sink. This time we’re in the lounge, which will be easier. Still, I’m sure the midwife doesn’t want to sprain an ankle on a stray car or crayon.
3) Have a designated space for midwife kits
Midwives don’t arrive with incense sticks and hot towels. They come with resuscitation and newborn kits, for weighing measuring and so on. These things need to be set up. A designated stable spot is required for a resuscitation station. (If you can have it mobile so that it can be next to you and you’re able to keep the umbilical cord in tact, that’s ideal, but obviously resuscitation takes priority.)
4) Put plastic sheets and towels in place
Thanks to Angelica Root, my placenta popped out in the shower en route to the bedroom, but this time I won’t be traipsing up a carpeted staircase to the bathroom first. Having a sofa prepared with plastic for either placenta delivery, or baby delivery, should I choose to move out the water, would be useful. A new shower curtain is ideal.
5) Milk and light snacks
I don’t know why as it certainly wasn’t something I wanted in labour (and don’t recommend, as caffeine dehydrates) but before hand I thought it very important that there be enough milk for teas and coffees and snacks during labour. I guess I wanted to make sure my supporters were provided for. Some people make up snack baskets for their midwives in a different room, should they need to rest.
6) Set up mood setters – candles, music etc.
Having a play list ready is useful, having candles around and so on – bare in mind your midwife will probably want to see what’s going on, and will need an underwater light for a birthpool. I had a light ready, but realised once the pool was filled that it would electrocute me! Not ideal! We ended up with the lights on, but it was the last thing on my mind. I had a list of affirmations that I had been repeating to myself throughout the pregnancy stuck on the fridge next to the pool so that I could be reminded of them if I needed to be. I had one of baby’s newborn outfits to remind me of the ‘cute’ factor and help the flow of oxytocin as well as act as motivation. I’ll probably do all that again.
7) Set up video camera and check batteries and memory card on digital camera.
Don’t put the new batteries or the video cassette next to the camera. Have it ready to go. In transition I recall getting the question ‘why does this say demo on it?’ and responding that I couldn’t really focus on that right now. It said demo because it had no cassette in, and wasn’t recording. The cassettes were all on the counter, next to it.
You should also know by now what specific pictures you’d like taken, and what you don’t want and your photographer should have the list well before labour starts. Keep a copy with your birth plan too.
8 ) Set up alternative medicines, with dosages and instructions for use.
Self explanatory, really. A cheat sheet of everything you’ve decided to have on hand during your birth, easily understood by someone who hasn’t done the research. Make this someone’s job. In my case, it was my mother’s job to make sure I had Angelica Root within a few minutes of the birth to help release the placenta.
9) Set up pool
For this second birth, setting up the pool will certainly go higher up the list as it might all go a lot faster. Fortunately you don’t have to do everything on the list yourself. Next to each job, put a person’s name. Non-professional birth attendants (mothers, sisters, partners and so on will generally be happy to be told what’s required of them as they want to feel useful.)
10) Call midwife
Actually this isn’t a ‘to do’ so much as the rest of the sentence: “Call midwives when contractions are five minutes apart and lasting for up to one minute on number 0123456789 and remind them that I’m doing hypnobirthing.”
These were the instructions we’d been given by the midwife, so I wrote them down so that if I didn’t make the call, I didn’t have to start looking for phone numbers and trying to remember when I was supposed to call. (They asked me to remind them I was hypnobirthing as otherwise I might sound too calm on the phone and the receptionist may not believe I’m in established labour.)
11) Remain hydrated
Again, one for my birth attendants. “Remember to make me drink red raspberry leaf tea and water – enough that I urinate at least once an hour to stay properly hydrated.”
12) Something new for Ameli
I’m not sure yet what will happen with Ameli or how she will take to labour and childbirth. I really require quiet to be in the ‘zone’ during transition and she is a ball of energy, so while I want her nearby, I am not sure I want her in the room. I’ll decide on the day. I’m putting together a basket of goodies for her to do – colouring, drawing, a new bit of LEGO perhaps.
Have I left anything out? What did you have or are you planning to have on your ‘I’m in labour, now what?’ list?
Print off your own Labour Checklist here!