Zita West’s Top Tips for Labour

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Top Tips to prepare for Labour - Mentally and Emotionally

It is very difficult for first time mums to prepare for labour as they have no previous experience to compare to
Zita West

With Kate Middleton expecting her first child imminently, Zita West, midwife to many an A-lister, and author of the Zita West Pregnancy Companion shares her tips for preparing for labour.

"It's very difficult for first time mums as they have no previous experience to compare labour to, and, up until that point it has all been theory. To help women such as Kate prepare for their first baby, here are my top tips, and preparing mentally and emotionally is really important. Having been a midwife for thirty years and with many colleagues who also work in midwifery, the experiences we all have when looking after women in labour have common themes.

I trained in the UK in the medicalised 1980s and then practiced overseas in Muscat, delivering my first baby in very primitive, non-medicalised conditions. This background taught me a lot about the women I was looking after and how they managed their mindsets in labour."

Key tips for mind management for labour:


A common problem today's women face is exhaustion during pregnancy and in the lead up to labour. There is far more pressure today to work right up to the end of your pregnancy with the aim to get more time off afterwards. Without enough rest or mental space and lack of sleep in the lead up to labour, women are left mentally and physically exhausted for labour, ending up tired postnatally before they've even had the sleepless nights afterwards looking after a newborn! The problem is that it is very hard to get a woman to think beyond delivery day. So get plenty of rest, sleep and 'me time' where possible before the due date.


Connecting to your baby by talking to him or her really seals a bond before birth. Call me old fashioned, but putting your feet up and having 'you and baby' time is a must. Believe me, if you don't connect or make the time, your baby will seek attention in its own way!


Your hormones are your helpers in labour and your mindset can influence how it goes. Endorphins will help with the pain while oxytocin gives the relaxed, 'spaced out' feeling. There is nothing better than to be with a woman in labour and see how she progresses by the patterns of behaviour she displays at each stage. Your hormones are influenced by your emotions so fear will slow them down, relaxation techniques will help.


Fear comes from many sources prior to labour, and it is important not to listen to dire advice and warnings about other people's labours. If someone starts to tell you a story about their labour, stop them and ask if their story has a positive ending. If it doesn't, then tell them you don't want to hear it.! I have seen advice like this cause such anxiety for women. Fear causes adrenaline to be released and labour to slow down. This can be from a number of angles; from being nervous about your surroundings, to not having a rapport with the midwife and feeling tense with your partner. Once fear gets hold, adrenaline is released and stops endorphin being released. Atmosphere is key to enable you to settle and concentrate on having as relaxed a labour a possible. There are many techniques that can be practiced to help with breathing and relaxation, and these will help labour along.


You need a lot of energy to get through labour, and dehydration and hunger will not help! You need complex carbs, and lots of them. I tell women to really stock up on carbs in the lead up to labour, as well as vitamin C and zinc. During pregnancy, you also need good stores of DHA and vitamin D which are both so important for fetal development.


Having your partner with you and going through labour together can be really bonding, however don’t force your partner to be in the room unless he really wants to be there. I have seen this become a problem after the baby is born with a couple's sex life, so make sure he is happy to be there with you.


To ensure you have the best labour you can, make sure you practice techniques ahead of labour such as hypnosis for birth, and positive visualisation will help throughout. I am also a great believer in the use of acupuncture in preparation for and during labour.


Zita West has a range of antenatal and postnatal products to prepare and repair:

VITAL ESSENCE 3 Prepares the body for labour. £25 for 90 capsules
VITAL DHA Vital from 28 weeks for the developing brain. £14.50 for 60 capsules
COMFORT DOWN UNDER Invaluable for the days immediately following delivery. £16.95 RESTORE AND RENEW LAVENDER BATH THERAPY. £12.75

All products available from http://www.zitawest.com.


Your Pregnancy Companion is an informative and reassuring guide to pregnancy, birth and the first weeks with your baby. Full of the latest essential information and expert advice, it will help you to prepare yourself for motherhood and give your baby the best start in life. £25

For more information, high res imagery and samples, please contact PR Manager Sophie Franklin on sophie(at)zitawest(dot)com

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Oonagh O'Neill
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