Will l be disappointed if there is a complication and I cannot have Active Birth or if I need medical pain relief?
We always stress keeping an open mind. A blinkered approach to a physiological process such as labour is a mistake. Labour is unpredictable and even the apparently most low-risk pregnancy can end up requiring some kind of special intervention. With that approach to things, you should not be disappointed if things happen not to go according to your plans. You will know that you tried your best but some events may have occurred that were beyond your power to influence. Active Birth is a means and not a goal in itself. If it cannot deliver the baby's and mum's well-being, then the necessary alternative should be allowed to kick in.
Where does water birth come in?
Water birth can facilitate Active Birth quite enormously. As long as there are no contraindications, it is really worth considering. Discuss this thoroughly with your midwife or doctor. The buoyancy of water facilitates movement, and positions such as kneeling and squatting are easier to execute and maintain.
The water is also relaxing and soothing as the temperature is maintained within a narrow limit around body temperature. The partner is also at hand for support and such things as massage. The atmosphere is generally less medical and more conducive to a relaxed labour process.
At what point should I get into the pool?
Conventional wisdom is that labour should be established before you get into the pool. This means, you should be having regular contractions and the cervix should be at least 4 cm dilated. This will ensure that you don't get- in too early (quite possible in the latent phase of labour, which could last hours) and that you save the soothing effect of warm water for an active phase of labour, when the contractions are more painful and more difficult to cope with.
What can I do in the phase before it is ideal to get into the pool?
There are a few things that you can do to help you cope with the early phase of labour. Try to rest as much as possible, conserving your energy for later. You may find that being mobile helps but, if not, then use the upright positions as needed. Make circular, swaying or rocking movements of the pelvis with the contraction pains.
If at home, create a secure and comfortable environment where you won't be inhibited. Your midwife will help you to arrange this in hospital whenever possible.
Remember natural breathing. Don't hold your breath as a reaction to painful contractions. Rest as much as possible between contractions. Ideally, your birthing partner should be with you to offer emotional and physical support.
Allow yourself some fruit juice, glucose tablets, or a spoonful of honey every so often. This will help keep your energy levels up - something that will come in handy later on in labour.
You may consider massage by your birthing partner or the midwife using aromatherapy oils. You can also use homeopathic remedies. These are options you should explore fully well before you are due.