The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Unnecessary introduction of bottle feeding or other food and drinks will have a negative impact on breastfeeding. After six months of age, infants should receive age appropriate foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Consult your doctor before deciding to use infant formula or if you have difficulty breastfeeding.
Hire a doula
A doula is an experienced birth companion who will be there to care, guide and support you and your partner before, during and after childbirth. Her role and involvement in your pregnancy will largely depend on your needs. Studies have shown that women who use doulas are less likely to seek pharmaceutical pain relief such as epidurals1. This is because an effective doula can offer support methods and tools to help labouring women feel more comfortable and secure.
Immerse in water
Many women who have given birth while immersed in a tub of water swear by its effectiveness in relieving pain, promoting relaxation and comfort. This happens because your body may release less of the stress hormone adrenaline and more of the labour hormones oxytocin and endorphins to help you cope better with contractions2. Being in water also makes it easier for you to get into a comfortable upright position which helps you work with gravity to push the baby out2. To decide if a water birth is for you, do discuss it in detail with your gynaecologist.
Change your position during labour
How much pain you can bear depends very much on how comfortable you feel during labour. The worst position you can be in, ironically, is lying flat on your back or in a semi-reclining angle. Some women actually find it more comfortable to sit upright during labour. This is in line with the fact that your uterus actually contracts forward during labour. Therefore, working with your body and leaning forward naturally with the surges of contractions will be more effective in relieving labour pains1.