Setting the Environment for Labor
There are several factors to consider when you choose your birth place, and one of those factors is the physical environment in which you will labor. Every woman has her own variation of what is most comfortable in labor, but most seem to revolve around a few key features that can be adjusted. Whether you plan to give birth at home, in a birth center or hospital, determine how you can manipulate the following features to make the most comfortable laboring environment for you.
Lighting: Most women prefer a dimly lit or dark room when laboring. Does your birth place have windows that could or should be covered? Are the lights on dimmer switches or can you use a variety of light fixtures to get only as much light as you want? Can you use candles for mood lighting?
Sounds: Some women want soft or gentle music playing while they labor. Does your birth place have a way for you to play CD�s or another source of music? Is there street noise or other sources of distracting background noise to interfere with the calm and quiet environment you would like?
Water: Many women find spending time in a labor tub or shower to be a great comfort measure. Does your birth place have access to a source of water for comfort? How easy will it be for you to use the tub or shower?
Positioning: The most comfortable position in labor changes from hour to hour. A good labor environment will allow you to change your position as your labor progresses. A variety of places to sit, lean and recline as well as enough room to walk or sway and the ability to get into hands and knees positions is helpful.
Privacy: Regardless of who you want to be with you in labor, you probably do not want strangers and unnecessary visitors. Consider ways your birth place has to keep your labor private. Are there doors you need to keep closed, window coverings that need to be attended to. Do you feel comfortable making noise, or do you feel the neighbors can hear you? Is there a way to make the room more private?
Fresh Air: Many women enjoy the feeling of breathing fresh air during labor. Does your labor place have a garden in which you can walk, or windows that can be opened? Are there places you can stop to get fresh air earlier in your labor, before you move to your birth place? In the absence of fresh air, do you have access to a fan to create a gentle breeze and prevent the air from feeling stale?
Aroma: Women in labor are more sensitive to smells than they usually are. Does your birth place have a smell you enjoy, or one that is uncomfortable for you? Can you use aromatherapy to improve the scent, or should you remove some items to change the aroma.
Temperature: A comfortable temperature may be warm enough for the mother to be undressed, or slightly cooler if she experiences a lot of body heat. Temperature can be one of the most difficult aspects to control because what is comfortable for the mother will probably change during labor. Does your birth place give you the ability to adjust the temperature? As a woman progresses in labor, her body will go through hot and cold flashes which can be uncomfortable. It is impossible to change the entire environment of the birth place quick enough to meet her needs. In these cases you may want to have available warm blankets, wash cloths that can be moistened with either cool or warm water, and thin sheets to provide a modesty cover in the mother overheats but does not want to be completely uncovered.