Sometimes in labour parents need to be assertive, not because your midwife or doctor is doing anything wrong or being unprofessional but because this is your labour, your body and your baby.
It’s about being in control, feeling empowered and communicating with your midwife, who will be a fantastic part of your team.
Simple ways to be assertive:
- Asking for items to make you as comfortable as possible – birth ball, pillows, water
- Asking for more support if you feel that you need it, this can vary from having more one-to-one care with your midwife or asking for more pain relief
- Being upright and moving about in labour is often more instinctive because you can respond to your body and work with your contractions, while ensuring you are as comfortable and physically supported as possible. You may need to talk to your midwife about how you want to deal with your contractions
- Your midwife is there for support and reassurance so if you are feeling frightened or anxious, tell your midwife and she can help you feel calmer
- Remember, your midwife doesn’t know you so being assertive and communicating will help you to feel like you and your midwife are working together
If labour isn’t straightforward, the need for communication can be even more important to help you feel involved with any decisions and to prevent you from panicking.
When labour is induced or speeded up with oxytocin drugs, women often expect to have to stay on the bed but this isn’t always the most comfortable position to be in and it can make the contractions more painful.
Your baby will be continuously monitored and there will be a drip in your hand so you may not be up to walking around but you can still have mobility and movement – using a chair, birthing ball, beanbag to sit or kneel and you can stand and lean against the bed if that makes you more comfortable.
You may need to be assertive and suggest this to help labour flow and to help you remain in control.
Having an epidural means being on the bed, even though you may be able to move your legs. The traditional image of a labouring woman with an epidural is lying back on the bed however, with some support, it is possible to move about on the bed, especially when you need gravity to help your baby to be born. Again, you may need to be assertive and suggest this.
If something is suggested to you and you don’t understand what it is or why you might need it, it can be worth using your B.R.A.I.N to gain information and help you feel more involved in any decisions.
What are the Benefits?
What are the Risks?
What are the Alternatives?
What does your Instinct say?
What if you do Nothing?
If you can be assertive and communicate with your midwife, you increase your chances of staying in control, you can feel like you and your midwife are working together and you can feel more involved with decisions, if labour isn’t straightforward. What have you got to lose?