Your Estimated Due Date is getting closer, and you want to make sure you are 100% prepared for whatever your body and your baby throws your way. Here are some suggestions to help you birth your baby. All of these suggestions are interconnected, and work beautifully together to allow your body to do what it knows how to do – birth your baby!
Let your labor start naturally (and help it along if need be!)
In the world of labor and birth, this is key. Anxiety surrounding when your little babe will make his/her appearance is normal. Easing this anxiety will assist in making labor happen sooner and with less effort. The mind-body connection is powerful – especially when it comes to pregnancy, labour, and birth – so maybe baby is holding back for that one last date with your partner, for the nursery to be completed, or for you to mentally and emotionally be ready to welcome your beautiful bundle. And remember: there is no calendar hanging on the wall of your uterus. Baby has no idea when the ultrasound said she “should” arrive. Trust that your body and your baby will know when the time is right.
Once all of these things fall into place, baby should arrive shortly! Well, maybe. Sometimes body and baby need a little push in the right direction. There are PLENTY of natural ways that are said to bring about labor. Acupressure, acupuncture, and massage therapy can trigger your labour to begin naturally, as can several herbal and homeopathic options, but please seek the assistance of a professional for all of these options. Sexual intercourse and light activities may also jump-start your birthing experience, but be sure to get the go-ahead from your Midwife/OBGYN/Physician. If you have made too comfy of a home for your wee one and they just don’t want to come out, a pharmaceutical induction may be required. This can take many forms (Artificial Rupture of Membranes, prostaglandin gel, Pitocin drip…), but your body will most likely get the hint shortly and can take things from there.
Once labor has begun: move, move, move! As much as possible and for as long as possible! Your baby is working hard, wiggling her way out of that tight womb, so help her out if you can. Your movements can be drastic and grand, like walking or swaying, or small and minute, like shifting a leg, gently rocking with your partner, or rolling to lie on the other side. Changes in movement are suggested every 30 minutes up until the Transition stage, at which time you do what you need to do, Mama!
Eat and Drink
How long do you normally go without eating or drinking anything? 3 hours? 5 hours? What about if you were going to the gym, or, say, running a marathon...wouldn’t you fuel your body properly for these activities? If you are going to labor for upwards of ten hours and then birth your baby, you need energy! Yet eating and drinking during labor is often discouraged. Your uterus is a muscle, and if it gets fatigued because of lack of fuel (food), it will not work as it should. I am not saying go and eat a turkey dinner, but eating and drinking as you see fit will do more good for your body than harm, and a zero tolerance policy for food and drink intake will set you on a fast path for fatigue. Be sure to throw some healthy snacks to nibble on into that hospital bag, or stock your pantry and fridge with easy-to-grab items for the most rewarding workout of your life!
It has been proven that certain environments are more conducive to successful birthing than others. An animal, if feeling threatened, will physiologically stop laboring and will continue only once they are no longer in danger. Your body--more specifically, the cervix--will not function as well as it could if you are feeling any one of a myriad of things: uneasy, stressed, anxious, worried, pressured, overwhelmed, uninformed, scared, upset. A calm, relaxed, non-intrusive environment, on the other hand, will allow your body to relax, open up, and welcome the experience of birth. Your physical birthing environment is as important as your mental birthing environment, so be sure to surround yourself with people you love and trust who also love and trust you, your body, and your preferences. You could also set up a playlist, bring a familiar blanket or pillow, or light some candles (or use the battery powered ones) to have full sensory control of your surroundings.
Listen to your body
Finally, listen to your body. This is true for your entire labor experience, but most importantly as your labor is nearing its end. As your near the birth of your baby,an amazing physiological component called the push reflex will naturally kick in. I remember hearing about this reflex during my prenatal class and feeling so rewarded when I experienced it in my labor. My birthing body was taking over--all I had to do was surrender to the natural process, let it happen, and I would be holding my baby shortly. Breathing your baby down as opposed to pushing your baby out allows for a gentler and more comfortable birth (for both Mama and Baby!).
Having faith and trust in your body when faced with something it has never experienced before can be scary. But please have that faith and trust. Your body is beautiful, and it knows exactly what it is doing.
Ask any questions that are relevant
Get to know your doula on a personal level
Build a relationship
You should have at least 2 prenatal appointments with your doula. During these appointments you'll probably go over things she'll do to help you along during labor and if complications arise. Also during these times you should begin to get comfortable with her touching you in case massage, hair stroking, or counter pressure are used to comfort you during labor so you can let her know what you do and do not like beforehand and to build the comfortableness with her. If you would like she may have relaxation techniques to practice too which would be helpful so you know you can completely relax in front of her. Personally, I found an included belly casting session really helped me open up and get comfortable with my doula.
If at any point you are not comfortable with your doula: First determine if the issue can be resolved and try to fix it. If you think it is something that will affect your ability to remain comfortable with your doula for future appointments and/or during labor, birth, or postpartum then you should talk to her respectively and tell her you just can't do it; She may know someone else available that you may be comfortable with.
If you are a doula or want to become a doula: The steps also apply to you but from a different standing point. Try to give your client as much information as possible so that the family can feel comfortable with you; like a friend rather than business. Reassure partners that you aren't there to take their place, but rather to help them help the mother or step in when they need a break. Beware them that you can not speak for them, you are not a medical professional, and can not give medical advice; You are simply there to support the family and help comfort the mother.
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