Real-Life Labor Tips to Help You Prepare

Get advice from moms who’ve been there (the delivery room that is).
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ByKelley Rowland
Contributing Writer
Updated
May 2017
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Photo: Maa Hoo

Yes, you can take comfort from the fact that women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not momentous (and nerve-wracking!) for you. To help you get ready, we asked moms to share their best laboring tips—and what they wish they’d known before heading to the hospital.

“The advice I give all my pregnant friends: be flexible. Things can happen that aren’t planned for and that’s okay. I had a typed out birth plan—yes typed. I went into labor at 37 weeks and had just packed my hospital bag the day before. My water broke and that’s how I started labor, so there was no walking around to deal with labor pains, no yoga positions. The key to making it through labor is being flexible and understanding that situations change and that’s okay.” —Heidi, Dallas, TX

“Bring music or even a movie to distract/comfort you. My husband and I watched The Big Lebowski about five hours in and my son was born as ‘The River’ played.” —Julia, Brooklyn, NY

“I think if you have your heart set on birthing one specific way, and it doesn’t happen just that way, it can be traumatizing for moms. But if you go in delivering your birth plan with this mindset of ‘these are my hopes’ while being adaptable, the birth will still feel empowering in the end.” —Heather, Edwardsville, IL

“Always listen to your nurse—they see more than the doctor does. They’ll give the best advice when it comes to a ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ situation.” —Jenette, Houston, TX

“Breathe. Walk. Stand. Squat. Sway. [These are] all things that will help soothe and speed things along. Lying in a bed makes everything harder and hurt more.” —Katherine, Montclair, NJ

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“I wish I had known about the power of aromatherapy with my first two births. For the birth of my son (a home water birth), I kept wet washcloths infused with lavender essential oil in a slow cooker and put one on my stomach during each contraction.” —Christine, Lake Elsinore, CA

“Pick a hospital that offers lots of tools to help you through the process like a tub for laboring in the water, birthing balls or these peanut-shaped things [to squeeze during contractions] and an iPod/iPhone docking station so you can play a delivery playlist—add lots of songs.” —Wendy, Dallas, TX

“I wish someone would have told me that after the months of morning sickness you are not out of the woods. Many women get nausea and vomiting during delivery. I found out the hard way. To finally get relief, I used two natural techniques: acupressure on my wrist and chewing peppermint leaves.” —Jacqueline, St. Petersburg, FL

“Do not try castor oil to induce labor if your water breaks. It will induce something, all right—not labor, and not pleasant.” —Louise, Barrington, RI

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