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Labor is hard. That’s why they call it labor. [Well…I don’t know if that’s really why, but it sounded good!]
It’s supposed to be hard…you are literally pushing another human out of your body.
But you can do it.
No really…you CAN.
And barring any underlying conditions or an emergency, you can do it naturally.
You really, really can. Do not doubt yourself. This is something that women have been doing since the dawn of time. Our bodies are designed + built for it.
Though natural childbirth is my thing, the tips below will help you through any kind of labor + delivery.
That being said, I haven’t always been so “ra – ra” about this whole thing.
My sentiments in the early days of my 1st pregnancy were more along the lines of:
“Give me ALL the drugs! Seriously…there is NO way I’m going to intentionally subject myself to that kind of pain when I could just get an epidural! You’d have to be crazy to do that to yourself!”
Thinking back to my younger self makes me laugh a little because I grew so much during those 10 months. Both literally + figuratively!
Over the course of my pregnancy, there were two things that changed my mindset completely.
How I View Childbirth
First was the birth class that we took. The labor + delivery nurse who taught it started by explaining that a birth with the fewest interventions also had the best outcomes for both mama + baby.
That really opened my mind to other options. She went on to give us tons of science-based, logical, practical and actionable advice that we found immeasurably helpful.
I know it’s super challenging to find a convenient birth class, but you really need to take one. We had the worst time trying to find one that fit our schedules and had room at the right time, so we ended up booking an intensive weekend option.
Let me tell you, sitting around in a classroom all day, for two whole days, when you are quite pregnant is NOT fun! Do not do it! 😉
I really wish that we’d had the option to take one online like you can now. That way you can just take it whenever you want, at your convenience, wearing your yoga pants in bed when you can’t sleep because you are so freakin’ uncomfortable! Whew!
This one is so super awesome – I love it! It’s affordable and it’s taught by a long-time labor + delivery nurse, so she really knows her stuff.
The second thing was a recommendation from my sister, who had no children at the time.
She recommended a documentary on Netflix. And of course, I was obsessed with all things pregnancy, birth, and baby related. So I watched it.
The documentary was called “The Business of Being Born” and it changed my life. I think all pregnant women should watch it before their birth…it is that powerful.
The birth class and that documentary changed my mindset completely. I did a total 180 and became determined to have a 100% natural birth experience.
I will go into more detail on both of my births when I post both birth stories. I have the first one up, but the second is still in the work. So keep an eye out for that coming soon!
In the meantime, you will find some of the best labor + delivery advice ever below!
Knowledge is Power
Seriously, the old PSA adage “The More You Know” really rings true here. The more you educate yourself about the process, the more empowered you will feel when the magical time comes.
When you feel more in control, the less stress you will feel. You will be more in tune with your body & it will be a much more peaceful experience.
- Take a birth class like this online course taught by Hilary, an awesome labor + delivery nurse [Use my code to get 10% OFF | Nesting10]
- PS: It’s already cheaper than the national average of $110 [I’ve seen local ones as high as $300!] Yikes!
- Watch documentaries like The Business of Being Born, The Mama Sherpas, and Why Not Home
- Read Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth, The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, and Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood-and Trusting Yourself and Your Body
- Join + participate in Facebook groups like the Natural Birth Support Group, Natural Hospital Birthing, and Healthy Pregnancy, Natural Birth, Happy Postpartum
It Takes A Village
Or maybe not. Depending on the setting, you could end up with an entire village present or you could have just a couple of people with you.
If you are in a hospital, you will likely have a rotating team of doctors, nurses, midwives, students, aides, techs, janitors, and foodservice professionals popping in + out of your room 24-7. Add to that your partner, doula, and any friends + family that you allow. It can get a little crowded.
If you go the home birth route you could potentially get away with just your support person and a midwife/doula or two.
If you are reading this early enough, I recommend doing research on the difference between an OB and a midwife before just booking a quick OB appointment.
You should also research doulas. And talk to your partner about other people you may or may not want in the room. You may not always agree, but you should always win this one! 😉
This is SUCH a personal decision. Other people will try to influence you. Do not let them + do not feel guilty about your choice. Everyone will get over any ruffled feathers once they are busy fawning over the new arrival!
Set Yourself Up For Success
You need a Birth Plan
Think of this as the outline of how your dream birth experience will go. Not everything will go according to plan, but you can always come back around and pick up where you left off.
It can be super simple or complex + detailed [like mine]. Check out these examples:
- My Actual Birth Plan – My 1st birth plan was ridiculously high maintenance. I laughed when I reread it 6 years later. This is the modified version that we brought with us for our 2nd birth, but didn’t even have time to give it to the nurse!
- FREE Printable Birth Plan Template created by a labor + delivery nurse
Ambiance is Everything –
You need to set up your space to be peaceful and inviting. A hospital room is not that. But there are some things you can do to help.
- Lighting – Dim the lights
- Scent – Aromatherapy is your friend during labor + delivery, see if you can use a diffuser.
- Sound – certain sounds will help you to focus & center plus they can drown out unwanted hospital noises
- Taste – make sure you stay hydrated. I cannot stress this enough, it will help you with a smooth delivery.
- Ask for a popsicle, they will likely have some and that’s about all they’ll let you eat! [Which is why I recommend eating something before every appointment starting around 37 weeks!]
Childbirth Pain Management
- Vocalizations – some women are super vocal and others are quieter. I’m totally the silent type…everyone mentions it [like it’s weird or something]. I’m not sure why, but that’s just me! If you’re more vocal, it is recommended that you make deeper, lower pitched sounds. Marissa Bolanos of WOMBREVOLUTION recommends “…opening your mouth, and relaxing your jaw.” And Lauren Zinn for Fit Pregnancy recommends simply saying “A”!
- Relax – My first instinct was always to tense up during contractions, as if I could somehow fend them off that way. But that is totally counterproductive – I’m so bad! You really need to relax, but it can be tough. Jamie at Simple Living Mommy recommends keeping your hands loose as a good way to force you to relax all of your muscles.
- Acupressure – One of the things that helped me the most was when my partner applied counterpressure to my lower back during tough contractions. Ali Damron talks about how you can easily use acupressure to start labor, revive a stalled labor, and manage pain in her article How To Do Acupressure When You’re in Labor for Mama Natural. You may wish to incorporate a massage oil here. I love YL’s Relaxation Massage Oil for this!
- Massage – I also recommend that your partner use one of those handheld massage roller balls.
Managing the Stages of Labor
Each stage of labor is unique and you really need to know the basics to know what to expect…particularly the part about the transition phase! This article, The Doula’s Guide to the Stages of Labor, by Lindsey at Mother Rising gives simple guidance on these stages and the associated contractions.
- Positions – Don’t just lay down on your back. Seriously. Get up – move around – let your body dictate what feels best to you. There are a number of popular and beneficial positions to try. My favorite resource is 5 Popular Birthing Positions for Reduced Pain and Length, again from Lindsey at Mother Rising. I’m pretty sure that I tried each of these at one point or another!
- Pushing – Don’t hate me, but I only pushed for like 20 minutes with each of my boys. So I didn’t mind it all that much, all things considered. But I’m sure my friends who had to push for hours want to punch me in the face right now. Sarah at My Natural Baby Birth shares her more peaceful techniques in the article Breathing Baby Out Instead Of Pushing In 5 Easy Steps.
- Tearing – Yikes! Nobody wants to think about it, even though it may be one of the greatest childbirth fears [along with #2]! But there are things you can do to minimize or even prevent issues down there. There is a really good article about this on Swaddles’n’Bottles called “How to Prevent Tearing During Childbirth”. Read it and do all the things!
Educate yourself and build your dream birth team. From there you need to set the scene for the perfect birth. This includes creating a birth plan, creating a peaceful environment, and identifying pain management methods. Finally get yourself into childbirth mode with these helpful hacks for birthing positions, pushing, and tear prevention.
You’ve Got This!
I think we’ve covered all of the super important childbirth stuff regarding labor and delivery. These tips and tricks should assist you in having your very best birth.
Just know that every birth is different. Every baby is different. And every mama is different. There’s only so much we can control, but we can always do our best to plan.
Roll with the punches. Stay focused + positive. And know that you’ve got this! Happy birthing!
Now go and pack your bag mama!
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, but feel lost then you should take a look at the Milkology class online! [I love all the online classes if you haven’t noticed!]
And don’t forget to check out all of my favorite things on my recommendations pages for the best things to make your life easier whether it’s parenting, budgeting, family living or blog related. Thanks again for visiting…I hope to see you again!!