Keeping your cool in labour

Wondering how you’re going to keep cool when you’re in labour? Try these tips to beat the heat.

A photo of a woman with short hair wearing a vest top while sitting in front of a fan

Pregnancy blog, 27/07/2018

It’s hard enough just walking from A to B in this heat, so some of you might be worried about how you’ll cope during labour this summer. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to stay cool and hopefully make things a little more comfortable for you.

The latent phase of labour

Firstly, in case you didn’t know, the latent phase of labour is the very early stage when your cervix is gradually softening and opening ready for your baby to be born. You might have backache and cramping similar to period pains, which will progress into contractions.

This can take hours or, in some cases, days. If you’re giving birth in a hospital or birth centre, it's recommended that you stay at home until your contractions are:

  • about 60 seconds long
  • strong
  • regular
  • around 5 minutes apart.

Being in your comfort zone at home should help you stay relaxed. Research even shows that you are more likely to go into labour more quickly.

If your pregnancy is deemed ‘high risk’, you’re having a home birth, or you are less than 37 weeks pregnant when you start feeling contractions, contact your maternity unit for advice.

Tips for staying cool at home during early labour:

  1. Close your curtains during the day. As lovely as it is to see the sun, when it beams through the windows it will make everything much warmer.
  2. Use your fan wisely. On really hot days, fans can just blow the hot air around. Instead, try:
    1. placing a bowl of ice or an ice pack in front of your fan for DIY aircon.
    2. pointing your fan at an open window to move the breeze around.
  3. Cool water. Whether it’s a bath, shower or even a paddling pool, tepid or cool water can make the heat so much more bearable. Not only that, but water can help keep you calm and soothe some of the aches and pains you’re feeling.
  4. Ice, ice baby. In ice cube or lolly form, chomping on ice is an excellent way to keep you cool.
  5. Clothes or lack thereof. Some people are happy plodding about in just their pants during this stage of labour – especially when it’s over 30°C. But if you’re more comfortable covering up, go for something loose in a natural fabric. An oversized white cotton t-shirt, for example.

Keeping cool on the ward or in the birth centre

Things will really heat up once you’re in the first and second stages of labour.

Wards are warm for good reason; babies can lose heat quickly once they’ve been born. However, there are lots of ways to keep your temperature down at this stage, including:

  1. Air conditioning. Most wards should have A/C, or a fan that can be brought into the room while you’re in labour.
  2. Plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important during all stages of labour. Packing a straw will make it easier for you to drink wherever you might be labouring.
  3. Flannels. Get your birth partner to soak a flannel in water and place it on your forehead, wrists or the back of your neck.
  4. Spray bottle. A quick spritz of cold waters from a spray bottle can help you feel refreshed.
  5. Handheld fan. You can always pack your own handheld fan
  6. Thin, light clothing. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in for labour. If you want to stay covered, go for thin fabrics again. Cotton button-down nightdresses are great for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.
  7. Hairbands. If you’ve got long hair, get it out of your face using a hairband or headband. They have a tendency to hide themselves in bags, so make sure your birth partner knows where it’s packed so they’re not scrambling around.

Watch our video to find out what else to pack in your hospital bag

Download our packing checklist

Keeping cool during a home birth

If you’re planning on giving birth at home you can follow all of the advice above. You might also like to think about a home water birth. Find out everything you need to know about planning a home water birth.

More about keeping cool

If you’re not nearing labour and just want to know how to keep cool in pregnancy, read our advice for summer pregnancies.

Is baby here already? Try our tips for keeping baby cool in a heatwave.

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