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.

Too Blessed to be Stressed

Too Blessed to be Stressed

The holiday season is upon us and along with it can come extra demands on our time. Let’s all commit to having a stress-free, guilt-free and enjoyable holiday season this year with these simple reminders.

“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup” – Buddy the Elf, Elf

The holidays are full of our favorite comfort foods and there is nothing wrong with enjoying a big family meal. Food can be so much more than nourishment for our bodies, it can be a way of spending time with loved ones and enjoying each other’s company. Eat without guilt, mama! If you’re dealing with nausea or heartburn, eating smaller, more frequent meals can help alleviate some discomfort. We also can’t wait to try out some of these holiday mocktail recipes this year!

You’re skipping Christmas? Isn’t that against the law?” – Spike Frohmeyer, Christmas with the Kranks

Is the thought of hosting a large gathering of family and friends overwhelming? Is the thought of traveling equally daunting? It’s perfectly okay to skip the parties this year and stay cozy together in front of the fireplace with your favorite blanket and a mug of hot cocoa. If that’s what brings you joy, do it! If you’re energized by having people around you and want to host, remember to delegate tasks to anyone attending. We’re willing to bet that they want to help, they may just not know what is needed! If you’ll be traveling any distance this year, make sure to take breaks to stand up, move your legs and change positions to help prevent leg cramps.

“I like your pants – they’re jolly” – Noelle Kringle, Noelle

Does your baby bump have you stumped on what to wear this year? Spending some time picking out a holiday outfit that makes you feel totally fabulous can automatically put you in a festive mood, or might we suggest an adorable t-shirt and maternity leggings? Now that we think about it… maternity leggings might need to be their own category because, well… they’re amazing! Maternity leggings for the stress-free, guilt-free win, mamas!

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps means a little bit more!” – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

If finding gifts for everyone on your list feels overwhelming this year, adorable announcement gifts like mugs, ornaments or t-shirts can be a fun way to celebrate baby and a sweet keepsake at the same time. To keep it super simple, pick up some gift cards during your next grocery run and put them in envelopes along with a copy of baby’s ultrasound picture.

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” — The Polar Express

Most importantly, during the busy holiday season take time to keep doing the things that make your body feel good! For you, that might be going to a prenatal yoga class or taking a walk. Don’t let busy schedules get in the way of taking time for yourself, and always remember to hydrate! If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, pause amid all of the commotion to take a few deep breaths, place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly and connect with your baby to re-center yourself.  

Bonus reminder! 

If your little one has already made their festive arrival, make sure to prevent holiday mastitis by keeping baby close and nursing frequently, even though many eager hands may be waiting to snuggle your little one. If you plan to be away from baby, make a plan to pump to avoid engorgement. Delegate, delegate and delegate – give yourself the grace to rest, relax and enjoy your first holiday season with your new addition!

Michelle Petkovic

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler born at a birth center and loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

You CAN still transfer care to a birth center: Five myths busted!

You CAN still transfer care to a birth center: Five myths busted!

Transferring care to a birth center more than halfway through my pregnancy turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. All of the concerns I had about switching providers later in pregnancy turned out to be myths, as you’ll read below!  

“I won’t have time to get to know my midwives.”  I easily spent more time with my midwife in my first appointment at a birth center than I did with my prior provider in the first 20-plus weeks of my pregnancy. The amount of time the entire team – from midwives to office staff – will spend getting to know you, your family and your pregnancy will amaze you. With 30-60 minute appointments, there’s ample time to build a relationship and discuss any concerns you may have before birth. In a hospital setting you may rotate through several providers during a long labor or only see your OB for a short time during delivery. The midwifery model of care focuses on personalized and continuous support throughout labor, which has been shown to lead to better outcomes.  

“It’s too late to make a completely new plan for my birth.”  If you’ve been hearing, “we do/don’t allow,” or it seems taboo to bring up requests with your provider, or you’re feeling like you don’t really have input into your own birth experience, change providers! Shared decision-making is a key component in a client-focused environment. It’s a process where you work together to make evidence-based decisions that balance benefits and risks with your preferences and values. Birth center care is always personalized, and your midwife will help support your plan for your birth whether you started care at 4 weeks or 40 weeks.   

“It will be too expensive.” While everyone’s financial situation is different, birth centers provide transparent billing practices, and care is often covered by insurance. The world of hospital billing is complex and can be full of hidden costs and surprise billing.  

Transferring to a birth center late in pregnancy still gave me plenty of time to join the community and soak up all birth center care had to offer.

“I’m not going to fit in or be part of the community this late.” Birth center care is individualized – it’s not a cookie-cutter approach. With personalized childbirth education classes to fit your time table, you and your partner will feel more prepared to rock your birth than you ever thought possible. Community also rarely stops when your baby is born. Most birth centers welcome you back (even to visit the room where your baby is born for the sweetest photo op ever!). From postpartum and lactation support to community playgroups, well-woman and family care, the community bonds are so strong among birth center families that it becomes an extension of your support network. It’s a village that will love on you, lift you up and celebrate you and your family for years to come. 

“A hospital is safer for my first birth.” The way you are made to feel during and after your birth will stay with you for the rest of your life. There is no do-over. Studies continually show that for healthy, low-risk people, birth centers are a safe (if not the safest) place to have a baby. And while they are home-like and rarely feel sterile or medical, they contain medical equipment and medications. Additionally, midwives are skilled medical professionals trained to handle complications of pregnancy or birth, such as shoulder dystocia, hemorrhage, or neonatal resuscitation. 

If you know a birth center birth is right for you, I encourage you to follow that instinct now rather than waiting for the next one – even if you’re currently in your second or third trimester. Every birth matters and you deserve the very best start into the journey of parenthood. 

Michelle Petkovic

Michelle Petkovic

Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn

Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler born at a birth center and loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.

Vitamin D in Pregnancy

Vitamin D in Pregnancy

With a growing (and sometimes overwhelming) checklist for a healthy pregnancy, here’s an easy one: Vitamin D supplementation!

New research shows that taking Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy may help protect against asthma and other respiratory infections.

The study showed that women who had received Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy gave birth to babies with a boosted immune response. This immunity may result in a decreased risk of asthma.

“But I live somewhere sunny… do I need vitamin D?”

Yup. According to Kathy Adams LM, CPM, a midwife at Babymoon Inn, nearly everyone – pregnant or not – could benefit from supplementation.

“No matter how much sun we get, most people are deficient in vitamin D,” she said. “Different people may need different supplementation amounts depending on sex, age, lifestyle, etc. Talk to your doctor or midwife about what vitamin D supplement may be most appropriate for you.”

Read more about the Vitamin D study here.

Eat Dates Around Your Date

Eat Dates Around Your Date

As your pregnancy winds to an end and you find yourself stocking up on diapers, prepping your bag for the birth center, and finishing your childbirth education classes, there’s one other thing to remember… DATES!

Hop in the car and head to a natural foods store (Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.) to stock up on some dates for snacking during your last few weeks of pregnancy.

The date fruit is the product of the date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East.  There are many kinds of dates and each variety is unique in size, sweetness, flavor, and texture.

So why eat dates in pregnancy?  So. Many. Reasons.

“They’re a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein,” says Maribeth Diver MSN, CNM, a midwife at Babymoon Inn birth center.  “They’re especially rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, and they contain 23 types of amino acids, 14 types of fatty acids, and fiber.”

But that’s not all.  Research has demonstrated significant benefits for pregnant women who eat six dates a day beginning four weeks before their due date.

These women were:

  • more dilated upon labor admission
  • more likely to have their amniotic sac remain in tact until after labor began
  • less likely to be induced or have labor augmented with medication
  • less likely to have long, slow, tiring “prelabor”

Eating dates during labor has also been shown to reduce vomiting, increase energy, and shorten the length of pushing.  It has also been shown to reduce the amount of bleeding after birth.

Excited about an easier, shorter labor but not sure how to eat six dates a day?  Google date recipes or borrow one from Babymoon Inn’s registered dietitian Megan McNamee.

“Dates are a good source of fiber and potassium that can act as a natural sweetener in many recipes,” she says.  “My favorite way to use them is by blending them with equal parts nuts like macadamia nuts or almonds until smooth to form an energy ball.  Stir in shredded unsweetened coconut or cocoa nibs for fun variations.  Roll into one-inch balls and freeze.  They’re great straight from the freezer!”

Did you eat dates around YOUR date?  Do you feel like it benefitted you during labor?

Vitamin D in Pregnancy

‘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?

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