If you are planning on giving birth soon, don't even think about doing it without these things.
Or do. It's probably fine.
All I'm saying is that these things made my last birthing experience better.
So herewith, interspersed with more amazing images found on Pinterest, my top 5 most excellent things to take into labour with you:
1. A vagina
No, really, you'd be surprised how handy this can be. Not everyone can (or wants to) activate the vaj for birthing duty but having had a caesar and a vaginal birth, I feel I am qualified to say that giving birth the old-fashioned way has a number of benefits. The feeling of accomplishment, the lack of post-surgery recovery – it can't be underestimated. And then there is the moment they put that baby on your chest – the immediate contact is sublime. The exhausted bliss is from heaven. But this is MY experience. If you can't/won't use the vaj, then I can say that holding your baby post-op is just as heavenly. A different kind of heaven, yes, but heavenly nonetheless.
Try: to borrow someone else's vagina for the birth if possible. Note: it's not actually possible. Sorry.
2. Aroma diffuser
Hospital rooms are a little impersonal, aren't they? Me, I quite like that they have that sterile, clinical feel. I think if I were to try birthing in my living room, I'd be mentally dusting the bookshelf. So though I prefer a hospital environment, I like the idea of warming the space up a bit. To that end, I have taken along some framed pictures for each labour in order to personalise the space. Hot tip: I didn't glance at those photos ever. Not a once. Because intense labour will remove you from the real world. You will go 'somewhere else'. But more subtle sensory changes can alter the room's energy. Like using aromatherapy. Most hospitals (read: all hospitals) frown on naked flames in a space where crazed birthing women are liable to kick an oil burner over or accidentally leave the gas mouthpiece lying on top of it. So I found an awesome electric diffuser to do the job. My advice – choose an oil you absolutely love and just use a drop or two in the water. Anything strong or overpowering can mess with your mind when you're birthing. Go with an old fave and use it sparingly. I can't say I was always aware of the smell (remember I was 'somewhere else') but I distinctly remember from the depths of a contraction hearing someone enter the room and exclaim, "Oh, it smells amazing in here!" and feeling somewhat chuffed. What a good little host I was!
Try: Ionmax ION108 Aroma Diffuser
During Ziggy's labour, we took in a CD player. Bren turned it on and as I recall, Paul Simon's Graceland played through once and then that was it. No-one thought to hit play again. And I have a feeling I only took in that one disc. So no more music.
I was so determined to fill the room with music for Harlow's birth that I made a playlist on my iPod. I called it Labour and filled it with Jeff Buckley and Sufjan Stevens. Awesome. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell Bren to choose that playlist so who knows what was playing. Once again, when you're at the business end of labour, the midwife could set herself on fire and you wouldn't know. Or care. But Bren assures me the nursing staff appreciated my song selections (and once again, I was quietly proud of throwing a good birth party).
Sadly, no-one thought to make a note of the song that was playing at 2:30pm when my little girl came into the world. I do, however, recall the moment I became aware of the music playing after the birth when I was heard to exclaim, "How the fuck did Delta Goodrem get on my iPod?"
Try: Logitech Portable Speaker S135i to dock your iPod/Phone – it's tiny but the sound quality is really decent. Ours now lulls Harlow to sleep each night. There are equivalent products for Android phone users.
4. Face Spritzer
Seriously, this rocked my world. Just before transition, my body temperature seemed to soar. Bren would mist my face with Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner and it really helped. Spraying it now, it's mild fragrance transports me straight back to the labour suite – thankfully, enough time has passed to make this a pleasant recollection.
Try: Bloom Refreshing Facial Mist, The Body Shop Vitamin E Face Mist or just fill up a spray bottle with water and a drop of your favourite essential oil.
5. Someone awesome
The reality is that even the person nearest and dearest to you will get on your nerves at some point during your labour. The colour blue may get on your nerves. That's just labour – everything is a potential annoyance. So whoever is accompanying you down the rabbit hole needs to be aware that you may become a person possessed and that you cannot be held responsible for anything you say or do for the duration. I told Bren, I said, "If I call you names or break any of the bones in your hands, I am sorry. But just, you know, try not to annoy me, okay, sweetie?" He understood perfectly. He was terrified but he understood.
Someone who loves you unconditionally and whose presence you find comforting is a great place to start. But be aware that being a great labour support is not necessarily easy. Discuss what you might want or need with your partner/support person before you're in labour.
Try: a professional birth support (or doula) if you want someone experienced to advocate for and guide you (and if it's in your budget).
ALSO: you'll do a lot of heavy mouth breathing during labour – have water, straws and lip balm close by. Once again, make sure the taste/fragrance of the lip balm is mild. Some recommend snacks to keep your energy levels up but personally, I could never eat during labour. Except with Luca when I had an epidural up so high I couldn't feel my eyebrows and decided to eat a box of Barbeque Shapes. They made a reappearance in the operating theatre just after Luca was hoisted into the air. Awesome.
WIN AN IONMAX ION108
I originally bought my diffuser specifically for use during labour but now I use it most days at home. I love it and recommend it to others often. So naturally, I am super-stoked that Andatech want to give one away to a lovely reader here on The Little Mumma.
Though I use it primarily as an aroma diffuser, the ION108 is also a humidifier, purifier and has a soft light which can double as a nightlight in the kids' room. For safety, it will sense when the water is low and switch itself off. Such a nifty little unit. Actually, I think I need another one. Might have to enter this competition myself under a pseudonym. If the winner turns out to be Lil Mudder, you should probably report me to A Current Affair….
Valued at $96, the ION108 is awesome during labour but you'll probably appreciate it even more in your home after all that crazy business is done. Entry is simple.
1. Go to the Andatech website and find another of their Wellness products (that isn't the ION108).
2. Come back and leave the name of that product in a comment here on the blog.
The competition will run until Thursday 16th May, closing at midnight AEST. A winner will be chosen at random (via Random.org) and will be announced on the blog Friday 17th May. Winner must make contact within 5 days via thelittlemumma[at]gmail[dot]com Open to Australian residents only.
If you are not the lucky winner, Andatech are offering The Little Mumma readers 20% off all their Health and Wellness products. Just use the code "MUMMA" when you check out. Happy shopping!