As a birth doula, I've attended dozens of births; each different and unique. But some things always stay the same, universal consistencies that don't change. And so, I've compiled a short list of my favourite labour tips and tricks that seem to be true for most birthing people. I hope you find it helpful!
1) V O C A L I Z E:
Too often movies portray labouring women in this fearful, angry state as they yell and scream. But what if I told you it doesn’t always look or feel that way? Instinctively, birthing people make noise. This might sound like a low moan such as an “ahhh” or an “mmmm.” But when anxiety rolls, those low sounds turn into a higher frequency, causing tightness. You see, your jaw is actually connected to your pelvis, so when your jaw is tense, your pelvis is tense too. And a tense pelvis won’t allow for cervix to dilate.
PARTNERS: If your partner is having a hard time reaching those low tones, imagine how a cow would moo (I know, I know). It seems silly but it really does work!
2) D I L A T I O N: Here’s the thing: nobody can tell you how quickly you will have your baby. BUT, I do have a few tricks to help the process along. Tip #1: YOUR CERVIX IS NOT A CLOCK: You can be at 5cm and have your baby in an hour or you could be at 8cm and have your baby in 5 hours. The two factors that will restrict dilation from happening is the way you feel AND the position of your baby. Tip #2: STAYING PRESENT & CALM: will allow Oxytocin to flow naturally through your body. Things like focusing on your breath or submerging your belly in warm water will make this easier. Just like our animal friends, our bodies are not capable of opening in the presence of perceived threat, fear or worry. TIP #3: USE MOVEMENT: babies actually “cork screw” through the birth canal to help themselves get into the most optimal birthing position. You can help your baby by changing your positions often, staying in an upright position and keeping your legs nice and wide. Did you know that a squat like position can actually make 30% more space for your baby! So, try not to pay too much attention to how far dilated you may or may not be. When given the time and space, your body and your baby know EXACTLY what to do.
3) P R E F E R E N C E S:
There is a very real difference between acknowledging your birth preferences and creating a birth plan. Personally and professionally, I don’t like birth plans. And for the simple reason that plans that can’t flex or bend, and don’t result in 100% truth, sometimes feel like a failure. Equally as important, I don’t encourage clients to have no plan either, as that can sometimes result in being under prepared, taking everyones suggestions and not feeling overly confident in your own choices. So, that perfect balance! Write down what your birth would like in a perfect world with no restrictions. It might include place, care provider, vaginal or cesarean birth and with or without medical pain relief. It might include delayed cord clamping and combination feeding or immediate skin to skin with dad. Next, learn about the options outside of your ideal plan. Educate yourself on all of the non-medical pain relief choices you have; epidurals, sterile water injections and laughing gas. Learn about bottle feeding, breastfeeding and formula feeding. Why? Because IF your plan takes a quick left, you’re already going to understand what plan B, C and D will look like. You won’t have to learn about those things when you’re in pain, exhausted and unable to communicate. You can then make the BEST plan for you and baby. Alright, so if you’re ready to get super prepared and teach your partner how to be an incredible resource for you, it’s time to start reading, researching, asking questions and taking a really great prenatal class (pick me, pick me!). I'm hosting virtual prenatal classes over ZOOM which you can schedule by clicking HERE.
4) 5 - 1 - 1:
With restrictions to visitors and support people, perhaps trying to labour at home as long as possible might be helpful. The 5-1-1 rule is implemented by both OB’s and Midwives and gives families a better idea as to when they should go to the hospital. So what does it mean? It means that your contractions at are:￼
5 MINUTES APART - 1 MINUTE LONG - FOR 1 HOUR.
You’ve heard me ramble on about the importance of oxytocin before and now is no different. Generally we feel really safe at home; we are around the people we love, we can move around freely and feel comfortable in the space. This allows oxytocin to flow easily which will help make those contractions longer, stronger and closer together. Generally when you follow this rule, we know that you will be heading into active labour when you are going to the hospital. And if you happen to be having a baby during the pandemic, restricting how much time you are at the hospital may help ease some anxieties.
5) PREPARE FOR P A I N:
I wish there was a less abrupt way to say this but, labour is painful. BUT, It’s how we cope through that pain, how we are supported through that pain and how we respond to that pain that effects the perception of our birth. That’s right, pain doesn’t always = fear, although this is often the biggest fear I talk about in my prenatal classes. Knowing and acknowledging that pain will be a part of labour AND that you are more than capable to work through it is an important piece. Learning about the different tools to support you through the pain is also important - such as warm water, TENS machine, massage, breathing, imagery and movement. And last but not least, educate yourself on the different medical pain relief options you have such as IV narcotic, laughing gas, sterile water injections and an epidural.
I hope you found these tips helpful. As you may have noticed, education is a pretty big piece. If you're interested in learning more, please sign up for one of my virtual prenatal classes. There we can talk about all the things above in really great detail and prepare you AND your partner for the beautiful birth you deserve.