Preparing for labour and birth

Arrange the support of a birth partner

Choose a supportive birth partner who can be with you throughout your labour; you may want to choose more than one person. They should be someone you are totally relaxed and comfortable with, and who will encourage and reassure you. So that your birth partner is able to support you to the best of their ability, it is important for them to take regular breaks. Having more than one can ensure that someone you know is with you all of the time.

Birth partners can also help with things such as:

  • Back massage
  • Keeping you active
  • Getting you snacks and drinks
  • Praising and encouraging you

Be well informed

Gather as much information as you can. Many women fear the ‘pain’ of labour which can cause anxiety, tension and uses up valuable energy which can make labour more painful and exhausting. If you take a few moments to think about why it hurts to have a baby, you may feel more relaxed about it.

Your womb or uterus is a large muscle that has to work really hard to open up the cervix or neck of the womb.  Labour is hard work and usually takes many hours from the first signs of starting up until the baby is born. The ‘tightenings’ or ‘period’ like pains experienced during the last few weeks of pregnancy help to soften the cervix. As labour becomes established, the tightenings become stronger and last longer. These help to dilate the cervix and help the baby get into position for the birth.

Writing a birth plan

You may find it helpful to create a birth plan in advance, to help your midwife see what is important to you - it can be difficult to explain what is particularly important to you between contractions! You will find a birth plan template ready for you to complete in your maternity notes. Keep an open mind, as sometimes you might choose to do things differently or problems may occur which may alter your original plans.

Please also use the 'Mum & Baby' app to create your personal plan.

Hiring a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

TENS is a natural way of encouraging your body to produce its own painkillers called endorphins and interrupts the pain pathways from your womb to your brain. It has a small control box which connects to four pads positioned either side of the spine. TENS is best used in early labour – usually whilst you are at home. They can be hired from a chemist.

Important contact numbers

Keep a list of important numbers in your handbag or near the phone. Include your hospital or midwife, your partner or birth companion, and your own hospital reference number available for when you contact us.  


Work out how you'll get to the hospital as you could be arriving at any time of the day or night. If you’re planning to make your journey by car, make sure it’s running well and that there’s always enough petrol in the tank. Please don’t call an ambulance unless there is an emergency!

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