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Bendy Straws! What's your unusual labour comfort aid?

Who would have thought that the humble bendy straw could be so useful as a labour item? When you think of it though, it makes a lot of sense. Estimations put energy usage in labour and birth as at least that of running a marathon – don’t worry, not in an out of breath way with your heart feeling like it’s going to burst out of your chest (or is that just me whenever I have to break in to a trot for a few minutes?!). However, it does make sense that women can feel hot and thirsty as their body’s do the work of birth. With a sports bottle or cup, women need to sit up, hold it properly and tip their heads back. If you’ve adopted a hands and knees position to labour in and are resting in between contractions in something akin to child’s pose, you may well not want to move to have a drink.

Research shows that being adequately hydrated in labour can shorten labour, or at least ensure it’s not longer than your individual labour could be. Hopefully you will have very high oxytocin levels too; this means that you’ll be in the ‘back of your brain’ or ‘labour land’. Women say they feel ‘zoned out’ or ‘not quite there’. This is a great place to be in labour as it also means less pain signals are received. Having to sit up, request a drink and concentrate on holding a bottle or cup may require a woman to come into the front of her brain which disturbs her ‘zoned out’ feeling and could mean she receives more pain signals. Or, perhaps more likely, she won’t bother to drink, which could lead to dehydration.

A good birth partner (start working on them now!) will see a woman resting with her head down; and they’ll get on the floor too and just put the bendy straw to her lips, taking care not to speak too much. The labouring woman will simply take a sip or not. Completely up to her. She’s unlikely to speak and her great birth partner will be pleased that she doesn’t, knowing that she’s in that amazing ‘back brain’ place where she needs to be. In advanced labour, the birth partner will offer a drink in between most contractions. I can remember longing for a drink but being too zoned out to ask for one and being so grateful every time I felt the straw!

What unusual piece of kit have you been recommended to bring to labour and birth? What helped you, if you have already given birth? I'd love you to post your answers on the BellyTots Facebook page. The link is here: Don't forget to like the page too! I'd love to keep hearing your comments about labour, birth and early parenting.

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