When we think of labour and birth the word “fun” doesn't usually come to mind. We think hard work, pain, exhaustion, focus, determination, and many other things depending on your own ideas around birth. Fun usually just doesn’t come up on that list. That is exactly why this blog post is so important! As a doula I have attended so many births that were filled with fun and laughter! Sometimes it takes some encouragement for the birthing person to let out the JOY they are feeling in labour, but it’s not uncommon at all.
I have seen clients laugh through contractions in transition (often referred to as the hardest part of labour) because it just felt right. Laughter produces oxytocin and oxytocin leads to stronger contractions. Laughter is an amazing tool in labour because it helps us relieve stress, relax our bodies, feel joyous, and all while helping labour progress! A room filled with laughter and love is a perfect environment to labour in.
There are a few ways you can encourage laughter and joy in your birthing environment. Firstly, you have to prepare your mindset. When you play out labour and birth in your mind in the days leading up try adding fun in! Imagine laughing about the hospital gown with your partner, or add in some banter with the doctor. It’s much easier to have fun moments while in labour if your have not decided before hand that it won’t be fun at all. Now to be clear, I’m not saying labour and birth will a barrel of laughs. It will still be hard, with varying degrees of discomfort that vary from woman to woman, and it may be overwhelming or even frightening at times. However, this does not mean that there won’t be moments of fun, joy, and laughter. Even some of the most challenging births have those moments! Birth is a lot like life in that it’s filled with a myriad of big emotions, connections, and growth. It’s like years of life condensed into moments so you might feel overjoyed one minute and completely overwhelmed the next and that is completely normal.
Pick support people that make you feel comfortable. You don’t want people around who you feel like you have to censor yourself with. There will likely be a lot of moments where you feel particularly vulnerable and if those moments are shared with people who make you feel safe and comfortable they can often be filled with laughter. You are more likely to laugh at an awkward or uncomfortable situation with someone who makes you feel safe, and you may find yourself cringing rather than laughing if your support people are not people you are comfortable being vulnerable with. Being able to laugh through those situations is going to help keep labour progressing, and if you feel uncomfortable with who is in the room that alone can slow or stop contractions.
In early labour it can be really helpful to watch a comedy. Something you have seen before that you know makes you laugh. It’s a great distraction while contractions are still mild with the added bonus of putting you in a good mood when you are feeling uncomfortable. During active labour you can plan ahead to add some fun and laughter in as well. You can try a funny movie or you can do something active like dancing. I’m a huge fan of all the labour dance videos that are going viral these days! They provide double the benefit because they get you up and moving through your contractions and they can be a lot of fun. Not to mention that you can look back on the video later and get some laughs after the fact too!
Something additionally that can really help you be relaxed enough in labour to laugh is creating an environment where you feel safe and comfortable. Doing things like hanging affirmations, bringing a favourite pillow from home, wearing your own clothing, keeping lights dim, using electric candles, and playing relaxing music can all help make the space feel more homey. If you feel at home in your space you will feel more relaxed. You can also increase how comfortable you feel by taking a childbirth education class. When everything is new and unknown that usually increases anxiety levels. Understanding what is happening as things go along and having some great techniques to increase your comfort level is going to help keep you in a frame of mind where you are more open to moments of laughter and joy.
There can be fun in labour, and it’s OK to laugh during birth! As a doula this is something I always try to bring into the birth room when it’s appropriate. It’s so important that we make room for all our emotions in these big moments and that we leave space for love and laughter in the room!