What NOT To Do in Labor

What NOT To Do in Labor

If you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance you’ve perused books, read articles, and taken classes giving you suggestions on what to do when you’re in labor.  Move, breathe, change positions, bring a doula, stay hydrated, etc. But there are few additional things we encourage laboring people NOT do to….

DON’T waste energy.  Are you in early labor with noticeable yet manageable contractions? Relax! Take a nap or go to bed, watch Netflix while sitting on an exercise ball, eat a balanced, nourishing meal, take a casual stroll around Target, or take a warm bath or shower. Think of birth like a marathon – maybe even an uphill marathon. Conserve your energy in the beginning because you will need it at the end.   

DON’T watch the clock.  In early labor, there’s rarely a need to time your contractions.  You’ll know if they’re 30 minutes apart or 5 minutes apart – we promise. And if you’re fixating on your contractions, you’re going to feel them more intensely. Plus if you’re timing them, this means you’re not sleeping, which is a far more beneficial activity in early labor! As labor progresses into a more active state, we still discourage looking at the clock. (On more than one occasion I’ve seen a midwife quietly take a clock off the wall in a birthing room…)  Watching the clock makes you acutely aware of how much time is passing – or not passing – and you’re more likely to get caught up asking yourself “How much longer can I do this?” instead of staying mindful and present in the moment and focusing on relaxing during and between contractions. 

DON’T stress out.  Yes, this is easier said than done (which is why we recommend great childbirth classes and lots of mental preparation during pregnancy). But there’s a super-scientific reason why stress is counterproductive to labor. During labor, your body produces increasing levels of oxytocin, the amazing “love hormone” that among other things, causes contractions. Oxytocin is produced when we feel safe and loved. We WANT the body to produce oxytocin because oxytocin = labor progression. But when we’re stressed/scared/sense danger, our body produces stress hormones called catecholamines that – you guessed it – inhibit oxytocin production! So minimizing stress and external stressors isn’t just good for your mental state, it will actually help your labor progress. #science

DON’T hold your breath.  It’s tempting and may even feel instinctive to hold your breath when experiencing pain. But breathing is an important tool for labor, and one of the few tools you can use regardless of the path your birth takes (e.g. if you’re having a Cesarean, birthing balls and rebozos are no longer useful, but breathing is!).  Remember those stress hormones mentioned above? The best way to quell the stress response is by breathing. Breathing also lowers blood pressure and provides energy to both mom and baby. Because it can be instinctive to hold your breath and tense up when feeling pain, practice breathing/relaxation techniques during pregnancy that you can learn in childbirth classes, prenatal yoga, or pregnancy/birth literature.

DON’T be self-conscious.  Labor naked if you want to. Moan and roar and make all the noises you like. Make peace with that fact that you will probably throw up or poop while pushing (I promise literally no one cares, and in fact your midwife might get excited by both of these things because it means labor is advancing and you’re pushing effectively). Again, oxytocin is produced when you feel safe, comfortable, and loved. If you’re stressing out about what you’re doing, saying, or looking like, you’re getting in your own way. Don’t worry about being “lady-like” or “a good patient.” Your birth is about you and your baby. It’s your moment. Don’t worry about other people.  Embrace the experience and be the birthing goddess that you are.

DON’T forget to make a social media plan. Do what’s right for you regarding this topic, but know that if you post on social media that you are in labor, you’re opening up the flood gate of “have you had that baby yet” texts and phone calls. You may be totally fine with this. Or you may find it really frustrating/annoying/distracting/upsetting, especially if labor is going slower than you hoped or has taken a stressful or unexpected turn and you have 50 well-meaning friends and family members wanting minute-by-minute updates. In addition to thinking about if/when you post about being in labor, be thoughtful about what you post. A friend (who shall obviously remain nameless) once posted on Facebook that her water had broken and she was headed to the hospital, only to come back a few hours later and be forced to admit she had actually peed her pants and mistaken it as her water breaking.

What Do’s and Don’ts of labor do you recommend? Tell us in the comments!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

‘I’m going to stop you there’ and other conversational comebacks to protect your pregnant soul – blog at The Spinoff

‘I’m going to stop you there’ and other conversational comebacks to protect your pregnant soul – blog at The Spinoff

At some point during pregnancy, it’s inevitable that you will receive advice you didn’t ask for, a horror story you wish you could unhear, or a reminder that things aren’t going to get any easier once your baby arrives. I spoke with a pregnant woman who recently tried to buy a beverage at a local farmer’s market and was refused service because the vendor felt that strongly that she shouldn’t be drinking caffeine, and he let her know allllllllll about it.

So what do you do when the unwelcome advice starts rolling in? Columnist Thalia Kehoe Rowden shared some advice in a recent blog at The Spinoff.

“When the advice that flies towards you is not welcome, for whatever reason, here are some things you can say:

  • ‘That’s something to think about [+ change the subject].’
  • ‘We’re still figuring that stuff out [+ subject change].’
  • ‘Thanks.’
  • ‘Good tip! Now tell me, what was your favourite thing about being pregnant?’
  • ‘Hmm.’
  • ‘Actually, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with advice at the moment, let’s talk about something else.’

This is important: you don’t need to engage with every person who wants to influence your parenting, either to take their advice on board or to tell them that you’re not going to. You can just say ‘Hmm,’ and move on, if you want.”

Pregnant people are also often subject to scary stories about birth or parenting. Kehoe Rowden offers some quick and easy responses when a conversation is going in this direction:

  • “Does this story have a happy ending? Because I’m finding I don’t want to hear sad stories at the moment.”

  • “I’m going to stop you there. I’m trying to focus on positive birth stories.”

  • “Please only tell me encouraging things at the moment.”

  • “I need your support to reassure me. Tell me what went really well.”

If someone in your life feels the need to issue the “just wait” warning when you issue a complaint regarding pregnancy, Kehow Rowden has suggested responses for this situation as well:

  • “So you’re saying that insomnia in pregnancy might be bad, but it’s only going to be worse when the baby arrives? That’s actually not very helpful to hear.”

  • “Yes, I’m sure each stage will have its own challenges. My challenge at the moment is [repeat what’s on your mind now].”

  • “Yes, I know there will be challenges. Please let me enjoy this stage while I can!”

Did you receive unsolicited advice or hear unwelcome stories or comments during your pregnancy? How did you respond?

Why there’s no going back after witnessing childbirth

Why there’s no going back after witnessing childbirth

Partners – can you relate to this?  How did witnessing the miracle of childbirth change you?  Excerpt – Why there’s no going back after witnessing childbirth:

“And then, a few hours later,” he says, lowering his voice as if he is about to impart the answer to all the secret mysteries of the universe, “they sent us home. And Clare just walked out. Like a normal person. She just got up and walked out. But she’d just had a baby! I offered to carry her, but she just looked at me as if I was insane. As if I was insane! As if what she’d just done wasn’t insane! They should carry you all out on golden sedan chairs through streets lined with cheering crowds.”

“And cushions,” I say. “We want cushions on the sedan chair. We want it to be mostly cushions.”

“Whatever you say,” he says, earnestly. “Whatever you say.”

Read the entire article here

Obstetrician Preferred to be Called ‘Vagician’

Obstetrician Preferred to be Called ‘Vagician’

Sure, the midwifery model of care has great outcomes and client satisfaction.  Candles and tubs.  But – have you heard of the VAGICIAN?!!  Here’s a sample – you must read the rest

After he delivered her first baby, he said, “But wait, there’s more!!!”  To the room’s amazement and especially the patient, Kendall Simpson, the vagician delivered another baby.

“At first I was really surprised to have twins,” Kendall told reporters, “but when I thought about it two for the price of one, I’ll take it.  Dr. Schmidt is truly working magic over there!”

Critics argue he uses slight of hand and distraction to deliver these babies, and it really isn’t “vagic.”  Dr. Schmidt, or “The Amazing Fredrick,” argues you just have to believe.  In Ms. Simpson’s case there is a rumor he read the ultrasound as only one baby just to set up for the big surprise on delivery day.

“He uses things like epidurals, it’s not magic,” midwife Janet Trendall told reporters.

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