Well isn't this British summer shaping up to be utterly glorious!! I'm not going to lie, I was traditionally English about the weather and have been awaiting a prophetic forecast of endless rain and Autumnal like temperatures. However, the browning grass in my garden and the endless blue skies have convinced me that old Helios is here to stay. So here I am, committing to flip flops and baring my hobbit feet. Sorry about that.
Both my babies are summer born. One human arrived in a record breaking hot June and the other human arrived during heavy downpours and punishing winds. Labour in the heat isn't piňa coladas and palm trees (unless you live in the tropics!). It's hot and sweaty and it's really important to maintain your energy. So here are my top tips to keep cool and energised.
1. FANS...all the fans
If you don't want your windows open whilst you labour at home, fill your house/flat with fans to keep the air moving and to provide cooling. Your midwife may well turn the fans off as you baby starts to arrive so that it isn't cold for your new tiny human. Those little battery-op hand fans connected to water bottles are great too as they blow a cooling mist around you that you may find less abrupt than a facial spritz. If/when you choose to transfer to hospital you can pop your portable cooling device in your bag. Tiger have them for sale for £3.
2. Cooling spray
A spray bottle with water in it is great for misting your face and refreshing you. You can get some really lovely facial spritzers with essential oils or you can make your own. Essential oils can be a great calming aid and reassuring emotional anchor. DO seek advice from a trained aromatherapist though as they will advise you on dilution proportions and appropriate essential oils for labour.
3. Cold water
Fill up some water bottles with water and have them in the fridge ready for labour. Don't forget that a straw in a bottle makes sipping water far easier as oppose to glugging. It also means your birth partner can just pop the straw into your mouth every now and then without having to interrupt your labouring flow.
4. Ice lollies*
Labour food is super important for keeping those energy reserves up. Pre-make lovely fresh fruit ice lollies and pop them in the freezer ready for sucking on in labour. You can purchase DIY ice lolly holders from most supermarkets and budget stores.
5. Frozen melon and frozen grapes*
Sugary, watery, cooling labour snack. Yumm! Chop up some honey dew melon (avoid watermelon as the pips will get pretty annoying!) and pop it in a tup or zip lock bag in the freezer. If you want to get all fancy you can even bring that melon baller your mother gave you from the 70s out of retirement. Chop grapes in half (long ways) before freezing too.
Have a pile of flannels on hand for labouring at home so that a member of your birth squad can pop one under the cold tap and mop your brow or place them on your wrists and the back of your neck. Pop extra flannels in your birth bag for any hospital transfer. As a doula I go through quite a few flannels when I support a birth as they are often the overlooked birth bag must have.
7. Bath, shower, birth pool
Use water to cool you. Of course, you are unlikely to want to sit in a cold bath, but a tepid bath or shower will cool you down. Depending on where you are, what you have access to and your labouring situation will depend on what of those aquatic solutions you opt for. If you are birthing in water, the temperature will need to be warmer (34 – 37 C) your baby's arrival.
Of course, you don't need to wear anything in labour. Although you might want to pop something on if you're moving to hospital. If you do choose to wear clothes, keep them lightweight, loose fitting and easy to remove if you get too warm.
9. After a hospital or maternity unit birth
Most maternity units and delivery suits are air conditioned or have fans. However, if you need to stay in the ward after you've had your baby, you may find that the they're not as well ventilated or cooled. So keep your flannels, hand fans and cool drinks on hand.
* A note about labour food: If you pop any pre-made things in the freezer, do make your birth partner aware of what you have prepared and where it is so that you don't have to give rummaging directions in the midst of labour. (I am totally assuming everyone has the 'lucky dip' freezer stacking style that I do). If you are planning on birthing in the hospital, pop a cool bag in the freezer so that your birth partner can decant your frozen snacks into the bag when he/she is preparing the rest of your bags for your transfer.
In the UK, we're not that used to roasting hot weather and even the non-pregnant among us can turn into sweaty, lethargic puddles. When you're pregnant, you have additional weight and blood flow which can make hotter temperatures more intolerable. But being hot in labour is not dangerous if it's just due to weather/air temperature and of course, you can be easily cooled. So get your retro on and dig out that melon baller, make some icey snacks (try not to eat them all BEFORE labour) and stay cool as a cucumber.