How to have a better birth by Zest’s Lyndsey Heffernan

Leading childbirth expert Dr Gowri Motha reveals how to prepare your body – and mind – for the best experience possible

Posted: 10 April 2013
by Zest’s Lyndsey Heffernan

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Despite spending the past few months trying not to think about giving birth, now I’m 33 weeks pregnant, it’s time to face facts: childbirth is probably going to hurt. A lot. But according to Dr Gowri Motha, Gentle Birth Method founder and childbirth expert to the stars, there are steps us mums-to-be can take in the weeks leading up to The Big Day to make the pain more manageable. Phew! I caught up with her to find out more…

What exercise tips do you recommend to pregnant women?
‘Micro yoga movements are best – they teach you how to move your body so you relax the birthing muscles. Hardcore workouts such as spinning are not advisable, as your hormones are softening the muscles ready for birth, so you could get injured.’

What are the things you can do during pregnancy to help ensure a calmer birth?
‘Walk as much as possible. Incorporate gentle walking whenever possible and try to power-walk for at least an hour a day, but avoid strenuous exercise completely.’

What’s the mistake most women make when approaching childbirth?

‘The first is reading too many books and listening to stories that other people tell them. Listen to one kind of advice and stick to it. And I recommend following a gluten-free, sugar-free diet. Some women use pregnancy as an excuse to eat junk food, but you need to be even more mindful of your diet when you’re pregnant than when you’re not. Refined carbohydrates such as pizza, chips, biscuits and cakes can congest your birthing passages.’

What are the best labour positions?
‘Spend as much time on all fours, standing, walking around, lying on your left side or squatting. Birthing stools are a good idea, as they ensure you’re in an upright position.’

Would you recommend a waterbirth?
‘Absolutely. I was one of the first doctors to offer a waterbirth in a London hospital, so would definitely recommend it. It makes the cervix dilate quickly and then the baby is born into a nice, warm environment.’

What should you pack in your hospital bag?
‘Hot soup, honey, sugary porridge for after the birth, coconut water, cashmere socks, firm bedroom slippers, and a long cushion.’

What should your birth partner know/do to help?
‘Your birth partner needs to be 100% present for you, asking you what you want or need at all times. And they should sit behind you when you’re on the birthing stool, gently rubbing your arms and encouraging you to breathe.’

How should you bond with your newborn immediately after the birth?
‘Talk to your baby through the pregnancy, then when it’s born, welcome it and place it straight onto your chest and hold it there for at least an hour – don’t let anyone pull it away. Just put a warm towel on it and keep it skin to skin. This is the feeling of continuation. The baby and mother should not be disturbed for the first hour.’