Child birth often comes with a sea of emotions, no matter how many times a woman has gone through it. Also, the uncertainty of how labour and the delivery process will go can be stressful. Contractions, backache, the urge to go to the toilet a little too often, water breaking, are some of the main signs that indicate the start of labour. According to Dr Jean de Dieu Mbanza, a general practitioner at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), pregnancy usually lasts for about 280 days or 40 weeks. He shares ways expectant mothers can have an easier labour and delivery process. Exercise Regular exercise during pregnancy helps improve one’s posture and decreases some common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue. It helps reduce stress and anxiety that is normally associated with delivery. Dr Mbanza suggests walking at least 15-30 minutes every day at a moderate pace, especially towards last days of pregnancy. However, consider how you feel and listen to your body. Swimming and yoga can also help. They are great activities for most pregnant women, as they improve blood circulation, while giving relief to lower limb swelling and discomfort. Childbirth education Experts say that it is good to take prenatal classes. These classes help an individual share their thoughts, as well as provide some unknown information about the maternity ward. Most of these classes can be found online. Prenatal vitamins It is advised to take the prenatal vitamins as soon as a woman gets pregnant because they help a baby’s neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord which develops within the first term of pregnancy. By this, you are safeguarding your baby to come out safe and healthy Healthy meals Having the right meal often in your last weeks of pregnancy is essential for a smooth and healthy labour. Dr Mbanza says plenty of protein, reduced sugars and green vegetables can be good for expectant mothers. Gynecological Research found that women who ate six times a day during their final four weeks of pregnancy, were more dilated when they got to the hospital, less likely to need oxytocin to start and progress labour, and they had a shorter labour overall. Set your own pace You can write about your birth plan as you prepare your mind as well. Birth plan is a way to communicate your choices, wishes, and concerns quickly and effectively to those around you when you move to active labour, when you are not able to have long discussions with your midwife. A plan empowers you to become informed of all your options during labour. Prepare your mind by trying not to listen to horror stories about labour and birth. This will help you to not be nervous. They are mums out there with positive stories, so try as much as possible to think positively. Relaxation techniques Practicing breathing and relaxation techniques is one of the most effective tools you can utilise to help calm your nerves before and after labour, as well control the pain while delivering. According to the Mommy Labor Nurse blog, not only is breathing a great distraction tool, this extra oxygen flowing to your uterus can help contractions actually hurt less. “Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, allowing all your air to flow out with a sigh. Pause until the air seems to want to come in again. When the contraction ends, take a finishing breath and exhale with a sigh. Try and focus on relaxing a different part of your body with each exhale, going from head to toe or vice versa,” the blog states. You can as well do long exhalation breathing techniques by aiming to exhale for double the length of time as your inhale. For instance, inhale for four counts then do an extended exhale for eight counts, the blog says. You can as well ask your midwife or doctor for more hypnotherapy and check what works best for you. Massage your perineum Benefits of massaging your perineum a few weeks before your due date is that it prevents tearing, increasing the stretching level to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal during birth. Women who did regular perineal massage reported less perineal pain in the weeks after childbirth, according to a midwife’s blog. Stay focused and strong Labour takes around 10 to 18 hours but it can even go beyond depending on the woman. To avoid interventions and complications, Dr Mbanza says that staying strong and hydrated helps you to maintain your energy while staying active and focused engages you to protect the life of your baby, making the process of delivery easier.