Comfort and coping

“Big inhalations of lavender oil were an enormous help. I sprinkled the drops on a large handkerchief, and when the contractions came, covered my face with it and breathed it in. It was like a comfort blanket….my friend told me about it, and it worked…I’ve since heard from a friend who used frankincense oil in the same way”


“Firmity of purpose, that’s what helped me most. I knew I was low-risk, so I was equipped physically for an ordinary labour, and the rest was just a decision. A case of agreeing and getting on with it. I decided that as long everything was progressing, I’d be utterly and completely determined…..”

 Picture of birth pool and woman

“I found the contractions at the start surprisingly strong, so strong I kept thinking this must be labour. Fortunately, I remembered what I’d learned in yoga, that it was very unlikely to be as I was able to chat in between, and even watch a bit of telly.

“It went on all day and evening like that, and I think if I’d gone into hospital I’d have lost heart – as it was so hard. But I knew it would be harder still in hospital, where I wouldn’t be so free. At home, I could get comfortable, so I’d rest, have a bath, doze on the sofa with a hot water bottle, have another bath. Then just as I’d sent my husband off to bed, at about midnight, something felt different. It was like a shift of some kind. I really needed to concentrate and when my husband came to see if I was ok, I just couldn’t speak to him. I didn’t want to look up. I went into hospital two hours later, and the baby came two hours after that.”


“Counting my breaths through the contractions…it would take seven long, slow breaths to get to the peak, and then it was all downhill from there. It got me into a rhythm and was a huge comfort, knowing I only had to breathe seven times to get to the next rest…..”


“Resting in bed, with every part of my body propped by pillows – between my legs, down my back, one under my bump, a cushion to rest my feet on, a pillow to rest my arm on….and of course a pillow for my head. It meant that I could completely let my body sag and be soft, I was holding onto absolutely nothing during the rests, which meant all my focus was on them, rather than that the one minute of pain.”


“My doula making a cup of tea….seeing her boil the kettle made me realise that what I was feeling was so normal and to be expected. It made it easy to give in and accept it……”


“Having a hot water bottle pressed into my lower back….aah it was heaven…”


“Getting in a bath at home and having my husband sit on the edge, and pour water down my back from a jug….the contractions were very intense by then, but the distracting pleasure of the sensation took my mind off it…..”


“My doula got an ice-cold bowl of water from the fountain on the labour ward, then kept refreshing a flannel in it. The cold was incredible, on my forehead, on the back of my neck, on my chest. I’d been starting to lose it, but that freezing flannel worked like a magic trick…..”


“Squeezing a student midwife’s hand…I don’t know what I’d have done without her. The midwife in charge of me just seemed to be writing all the time – but this other woman just knelt beside me and was there. The contraction would start to build, she’d take my hand in hers and I’d squeeze it hard until it was over. It just made me feel so safe….”


“I knew that the move to hospital was going to disturb me, so I got ready – I had earplugs in my ears, one of those long-haul flight eye masks to shield the light and a shawl over my head. I looked like a crazy celebrity, avoiding the press, but thank God I did it. It just kept me on top of everything. My husband sorted everything out and I just got guided to my room on my labour ward. He lowered the lights, made sure the midwives kept their voices low – my God I’ll love him forever for that. I could have been at home. Because I could focus completely, I felt really safe – I could feel for myself that my body was on my side.”