Category: Doula Service

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

If you read part 1 of my blog, “How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula” you’re already going to do so well with those simple and basic preparations! Part 2, the pro tips are for the moms that go the extra mile, and basic info isn’t enough. “Give me every tip you have!”  Momma, you’re going to do so well, you’re going to have a beautiful labor and there is nothing to fear. That’s what this part 2 is about. How to prepare throughout your pregnancy to give yourself the best chance at a great birth. It doesn’t matter what kind of birth you are having, natural, cesarean, induction, etc. Good preparation will make any birth have much better results, even in getting a quicker recovery afterward. Thrive in this labor. Have a great story to tell your friends about how you laughed throughout your whole labor, about how there was no pain only enough pressure to let you know what’s happening. These labors happen all the time, but we only hear the horror stories because it is the traumatized people that are compelled to tell their story again and again. You won’t be one of those. Rock your labor with these pro tips!
1. Nutrition is Key
Nutrition is the building block that everything stands on. If you don’t have good nutrition you can be sure there will be problems. So what does good pregnancy nutrition look like? For a healthy you and a healthy baby you need to be taking a good prenatal supplement to start. I recommend Thorne, Seeking Health, or Zahler Prenatal DHA. As far as what you should be eating, it is recommended that a pregnant woman eats:
at least three servings of protein per day (for Iron)
five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
three or more servings of healthy dairy products per day (for calcium)
foods with essential fats (Omega 3’s and 6’s)
Bone broth is a staple for pregnancy as it provides minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus and is rich in gelatin, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, and amino acids. It can also help you overcome morning sickness.
There are plenty of things to avoid and limit as well. You should limit white tuna (albacore) to no more than 6 oz a week. Limit your caffeine as well to about 12 oz a day. And while many people disagree about whether alcohol is allowed in pregnancy or not, it has been proven that even small amounts of alcohol have somewhat of an effect on the baby and your pregnancy. So better just not to risk it in my opinion. Avoid all fish that contain high amounts of mercury, anything unpasteurized or raw meat. Eating good nutrition is going to help you feel better and have more energy, which brings me to my next point.
2. Exercise for Labor
Exercise during labor is a little different during pregnancy because you’re focusing on different things. If you work out all the time, you can keep doing that, but there are certain things that help prepare your body for labor. First is Kegels, I recommend at least 10 minutes of Kegels a day. You can split it into two 5 minute segments. Kegels are fun because you can do this anytime, anywhere. In a boring meeting? Kegels! Washing dishes? Kegels!  Try it in all different positions: sitting, standing, squatting, leaning over, laying down legs up, etc. Build up the amount of time they’re held and the pressure with they’re held. In an addition to Kegels Ina May Gaskin recommends 500 squats a day for a quick labor. It may take some time to get to that point. Split it up throughout the day to do as many as you can handle. But you should be up to 500 before the birth of your baby. Walking: many midwives won’t even take on clients unless they agree to walk 5 miles each day, rain or shine. It must be important! And last, is stretching. Some may not consider this an exercise, but it certainly prepares you physically and mentally. Flexibility in labor is very helpful in an of itself, but doing split-like stretches helps open you up and prepares you to release and let go of the tension and muscle gripping in labor. This is especially important if you’re worried about: length of labor, size of the baby, tearing, or the pushing stage in general. Learn more labor exercise HERE.
3. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and Dates
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is amazing. It tones the pelvic floor, strengthens the uterus, guards the immune system, and eases morning sickness and more. This is a favorite for doulas, we love the amount of good that comes from drinking a simple delicious tea. You can begin drinking this in your 2nd trimester. Dates are another great way to improve your labor outcome. It is associated with shorter labors, higher bishop scores, going into labor more spontaneously, avoiding Pitocin and many other things. You can begin eating them at 36 weeks, read more about them HERE.
4. Baby Positioning
There are many things you can do to improve the position of your baby. Most of us know that a sunny side up baby (posterior) means a longer harder labor with a ton of pressure on your back. If this is the case you should spend a lot of time on hands and knees every day doing some slight rocking. About 30 minutes to an hour every day can really help encourage your baby to move into optimal positioning. You can find out from your care provider where your baby is sitting, and then do some belly mapping to fill in the missing pieces. From there you can get to work. There is rebozo sifting, yoga, and exercise that can get baby moving. Any movement is said to be good movement because it just gives your baby more opportunity to do what it already knows to do. If your baby is breech at full term it will usually result in a c-section, so it’s best to get to work on that from 30 weeks on. A few things have been shown to help with that. The first thing is frequent deep pool diving, this creates a pressure that has been successful to turn many babies around. Having your partner speak or sing to the baby at your pelvic floor is so great. Your baby is attracted to the familiar sound and will draw near and hopefully engage when this is done regularly. The right kind of massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care have been shown to help at times as well. If all of these things fail to engage a breech baby head down, then you should turn to Version, a procedure where the doctor will attempt to turn the baby manually. For more information on how to turn a particular position visit spinningbabies.com
5. Perineal Massages
A massage for your perineum can drastically improve your chances of not tearing and avoiding an episiotomy. And not tearing is a big must for surviving labor. It may be hard to do for yourself, you’ll need a mirror and some perseverance… or a partner for this. I recommend using coconut oil or vitamin E for this procedure, and to do it every day from 34 weeks on. Detailed instructions can be found HERE.
6. Stay Loose and Breathe
Now, in labor, there are things to remember and techniques to do. This is why it’s so helpful to have a doula, she knows what these things are and how to help you in those moments. So first thing to remember is that a loose jaw = an open pelvis. There is a direct connection with the tightness in your mouth, and the tension down below. So keeping your sounds low and your jaw slack help keep the looseness needed to avoid fighting your own contractions. Then there are breathing techniques, which there is no ‘right one’ just pick one you like. They are designed to keep you breathing deeply and getting plenty of oxygen to the baby, keeping you calm, and… distracting you. That’s right. Counting those breaths through every contraction really helps to refocus you and distract from any negative feeling.
7. Mental Preparation
I am all about mental preparation. In fact, I include meditation sessions with most of my packages, and will give the instructions on how to do it if they don’t choose that package. I think it single-handedly makes the most difference in the actual labor process. So there are many avenues of mental preparation. There is childbirth classes to educate you, a Bradley or Lamaze class to instruct you, and Hypnobirthing to change your mind. I think they’re all great, but if we are being honest we all have fear during our pregnancy lingering in the back of our minds concerning childbirth. This fear is ingrained in our body and even if we chant positive mantras, our body still reacts to the unknown with fear and negativity. I believe we can have positive labor, a pain free birth, and a glorious experience (even without the medication). Since this is the ‘pro’ tips from a doula I will give you the unconventional wisdom. In addition to meditation and the things mentioned in my last blog, EFT tapping is a way to address your fears and then rid yourself of them. Watch positive labors on Youtube or join BirthTUBE on facebook. Speak out what your birth will be and how you’re creating a pathway for it to be this way. Don’t speak anything that doesn’t feel honest. Speak only the truth. Ground yourself in nature for the meditation and visualize what your birth will be like because of your preparation and incredible birth team.
If you apply all of these things well, then you’re set up for an expert birth. You’re rocking this pregnancy, and you will rock motherhood as well. Just remember to hire your doula; knowing everything does not decrease your need for actual educated support during labor – physically, emotionally, spiritually, or as an advocate.
Let me know if there is anything I missed and how you are preparing for labor!

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)

 

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)

Labor and delivery can be extremely daunting. We are counting down the days from the beginning, dreading the labor, but excited to meet our little one. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be. Honestly, you can rock your birth so well that the word survival doesn’t resonate with you anymore. As a doula, I have the amazing opportunity to guide women through pregnancy and labor and find out what works, and what doesn’t. And I have found unsurprisingly that those who prepare the most, handle their labors the best. I have some basic tips for you if you’re a first-time mom, or a mom that wants a better labor experience than before – oh that’s all of you? Okay, let’s delve into this topic and learn how to not just survive but have an incredible experience in your birth.
1. Get a Doula, or at Least a Childbirth Class.
We all knew I had to say it. It’s my highest recommendation I believe in them more than words can tell you. It makes a massive difference in your birth. And I haven’t met anyone that regretted getting a doula (maybe the wrong doula, but not a doula in general) if there are none in your area or in your budget, take a class. It will give you understanding, ease your mind, and make you more confident about your upcoming birth. Find a doula in your area HERE
2. Make a Detailed Birth Plan
Now, I have to give you the disclaimer that you probably won’t get it to happen exactly according to plan. But it goes along the lines of “Shoot for the moon, even if you fall short you’ll land among the stars.” Which may be incorrect astronomy, but you understand. Making a detailed birth plan increases your chances of having the birth you want. You’re not going to remember everything you want in those intense moments, but having someone remind you to change positions, or turning down the lights for you, adding some relaxing music, these little things make a big difference in your labor. In your birth plan also you should have procedure protocol ready for you and your baby as well. A good place online to make a birth plan (if you’re not hiring a doula) is HERE.
3. Release Your Fears
Since we know you don’t progress well unless you’re relaxed, and fear fights your natural hormones from releasing, it becomes extremely important to ward off fear. How? First, through education, learn all you can about birth, WARD AWAY FROM THE HORROR STORIES. Secondly, through prayer/meditation, take time every day to focus on the birth you want and remind yourself that you will get it. Pain-free, easy births are possible and they happen all the time. Remind yourself of all the measures that can be easily taken if something were to go wrong. Contractions are just flexing muscles and like a wave to embrace and ride. Think of pushing your baby out is like pooping out a stick of butter, easy because your body has already opened like it’s designed to and made way for your baby.
4. Relieve the Pain
The #1 pain relief option that people go for is an epidural. Epidurals have some pros and cons like everything, but after studying if you feel this is your best option, read this. There is also Nitrous Oxide which wouldn’t be my first choice as it has some seriously dangerous side effects. Then there is natural pain relief: water birth has been called ‘the natural epidural’ for good reason, the temperature and weightlessness contribute to major relief. If you’re not able to do water birth you can use similar techniques with a hot water bottle, warm cloths, or your partner holding you up to relieve you of any muscle usage (the weightlessness factor). There are instinctive position changes, massage, distraction, focus, oils, counter pressure, rebozo sifting, kissing, and many other natural ways to decrease or eliminate your pain. Your brain only has so many sensory receptors and if you combine as many of these things as you can, chances are you won’t have the space to feel pain.
5. Beat Exhaustion
Many moms confess that although they did all the right things and had a great labor in many regards they were just totally exhausted. Early labor is anywhere from a few hours to a few days or even weeks in some cases! Active labor can last up to 20+ hours, but from 6cm it’s usually between 4-8 hours. When you have to focus intensely through every contraction, those hours get very long. So first thing is preventative care. When you are in early labor many moms get excited about impending labor and find it hard to sleep. Don’t be that mom. Pretend it’s not happening and take a nap. Even if you can’t actually sleep, lying there is better than walking around trying to provoke labor to get rolling. If you were going to run a marathon in the evening would you exercise all day? No. Exercise should have happened in preparation for this day, but delivery day requires all the rest you can get. Also if you’re able to nap between contractions early on it’s a very good way to get you through the finish line. Secondly, you need fuel. Unless you’re planning on a C-Section (or believe you may need one) you have every right and responsibility to eat something. I recommend a smoothie as it is easily digestible and is good healthy energy to burn without the crash (try these yummy recipes!).

These are the basic tips to survive labor. If you don’t prepare you can expect to run into problems and pain. Every woman needs to be well prepared before undertaking this amazing feat. My next blog (part 2) is the expert tips for surviving labor and delivery. This has more to do with preparation in your body and is for someone who is very dedicated to having a great labor and delivery, and a healthier body and baby. You can expect better results when you put in the time and effort. Let me know what you did to prepare for labor!

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)
Rebozo For Pregnancy and Labor

Rebozo For Pregnancy and Labor

How is a Mexican shawl (rebozo) helpful for pregnancy and labor?

A rebozo is one of the more underutilized birth items that doulas rave about. This thing single-handedly has changed many people’s birth so drastically that they won’t even try going into birth without one. You’re going to want to bookmark this on your computer for later.

A rebozo traditionally is a beautiful Mexican shawl, but more recently has been used for pregnant women everywhere. You can easily use a folded sheet or long scarf as a replacement, just know that the rebozo should be about 8 feet long.

REBOZO SIFTING IN PREGNANCY

 

    If you have been told you have a breech baby, or just that the baby is not in optimal position for that point in your pregnancy, you can begin doing what is called rebozo sifting.

You can do this is many positions. An easy position would be to get on all fours or to rest on a birthing ball and have your partner wrap the rebozo around your waist (make sure you go the full width of the waist from below breasts to the hips). Once you are wrapped and feel comfortable, your partner would grab both ends, taking the weight of your belly off of you and GENTLY shifting back and forth. Once you get the hang of it, try it in different positions and see which one feels the best for you.

You can’t rebozo too often. Twice a day is ideal if you’re in a hurry to get that baby in position, but you can do as little as once a week if you’re still several months out.

What is great about this is you can only move the baby into a better position. You can’t rebozo the baby into a bad spot.

Another reason to use this in pregnancy is to prepare for the labor, so even if your baby is in a great spot, you might just get comfortable with this practice so you both can jump into the routine on delivery day!

And mom, you’re going to love doing this if your pregnancy has been rough on your back. It’s going to feel like your dessert at the end of the day to get some of that weight pulled off of you.

 REBOZO SIFTING IN LABOR

Rebozo sifting in labor is used for the same main purpose of positioning the baby ever so slightly to the least painful, most optimal location. Many times women go through the excruciating pain that is unnecessary; the baby was not quite at the right angle and hitting at the cervix. This doesn’t have to be a part of your labor. Rebozo sifting can definitely help, but also it’s not a cure-all for the pain in labor. Labor is still usually painful regardless.

The other use of a rebozo in labor is just to relieve the mom of back pain. If you really take the time to learn about all the positions you can do with a rebozo, it can help alleviate many different areas of pain throughout labor.

Now, if you’re having a homebirth this will be a really easy transition, as you’ve had all the practice and the locations for positioning yourself. A hospital birth can still be done! I would advise you to bring your birthing ball and don’t expect them to have unlimited pillows for your knees. If you don’t have access to a birthing ball, just lean in on the edge of the bed using whatever you brought or whatever is around for your knee cushioning. You can cradle it under your armpits as you crouch to the ground and your doula or partner would stand above you in front carrying all of your weight (don’t worry partner, it sounds harder than it is). You can also try it on all fours in the hospital bed with your partner or doula standing above you sifting. You will probably get weird looks from the nurses and doctors. That’s ok!

The situations you would NOT use a rebozo in.

  • High-risk pregnancy. If you are having complications or you are in danger of having a high-risk pregnancy, you absolutely need to speak with your care provider first and foremost and make sure that the rebozo will be not a problem.
  • If you have seen any signs of the possibility of a miscarriage, you should not be using the rebozo.
  • If you do not think you can be very gentle, don’t use it or try it. Being rough with the rebozo could jerk around the baby and/or the placenta or cause other problems. But when used gently it is considered safe.

If you’re still unsure of positions or what exactly to do, there are a ton of youtube videos that can help walk you through. Remember practice, practice, practice! Good luck on your rebozo journey, I hope it works amazingly for you!  

What Is a Doula and Do I Really Need One?

What is a Doula?

Doula comes from the Greek word doulē  meaning ‘female slave.’ It has come more modernly to mean a woman who is trained to effectively assist another woman in childbirth.

A doula in a more expansive form is a person trained to help mothers (and fathers!) in the preparation, delivery, and postpartum process of giving birth. The doula is not a medically-trained assistant, but rather a skilled professional that provides emotional, informational, physical, educational, and yes, even spiritual support during the birthing process. A doula is trained to provide unbiased support so that the mother can feel confident to make good decisions in a high-pressure environment. The doula will assist in many physical aspects including Rebozo sifting, position changing for optimal delivery, massage, relaxation and breathing techniques, guided imagery, aromatherapy, soothing music and so much more. Their tools usually include a peanut ball, a birthing ball, a rebozo, essential oils, affirmations or scripture cards, their enormous heart, knowledgeable mind, and various experiences. 

With the knowledge and experience of a doula, you can be confident that you have someone on your side that will tell you the truth and is not biased or having some kind of agenda other than a healthy mom and baby. She knows your birth plan, and she knows your past birth experiences, she knows what you’re like when you’re coping well, and not so much. She has a hundred good suggestions should you feel the need to try something different. It’s good to have someone truly on your side.

The doula should also know how to facilitate communication between the mom and the care providers. In the chaos and pain and exhaustion, many moms feel left out of the decisions when there isn’t someone there advocating for her. A doula will never speak for you, but rather make sure you understand everything that’s going on, and make sure the doctor is explaining and giving you multiple options. This empowerment has been unbelievably valuable to the vast majority of women with doulas.

The right doula is a calming companion, encouraging the woman to let go and succumb to the wisdom of her body, so her body can successfully birth her baby. When a woman is stressed, fearful, and tense, her body reacts with a fight or flight response that releases chemicals and hormones called Adrenaline, Cortisol, and Norepinephrine. This release can slow or stop the production of Oxytocin, the hormone that causes the contractions in labor, thus slowing down the entire labor and creating more exhaustion, fatigue, inability or self-doubt and thus the process repeats itself. Relaxing is essential to a smooth birthing process.

The ultimate goal of a good doula is to give the mother an experience that’s empowering, healthy, and positive with good memories to last a lifetime.

Why Hire a Doula?

There are good reasons to hire a doula, especially if you will be delivering your first child. The services of the doula are most often reasonably priced and you can set the terms of their participation. But even if they are expensive in your city, you have to decide how important birth is to you.

Physical Benefits for Mom

  • Studies have shown a 50% decrease in C-sections when a doula was present.
  • overall labor time is typically cut by 25%.
  • 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin (an inducing medication).
  • 9% decrease in the use of any pain medication.
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery.
  • 34% increase in birth satisfaction.
  • 40% decrease in the use of forceps (A process in which the doctor has to pull the baby out in a hurry because of fetal distress).

Emotional Benefits for the Mom

  • Women feel better prepared for the emotional and physical aspects of birth.
  • Women feel nurtured and cared for.
  • Women are much more highly satisfied with the individual care they receive.
  • Women’s individual perception of their labor is much more positive.
  • Mothers who are supported by a Birth Doula on average spend more time with their baby.
  • Women bond more easily with their babies with a doula’s techniques and education.
  • Women feel better prepared to be mothers.

Benefits for Baby

  • Shorter hospital stays for baby because babies tend to be healthier with a doula’s continual support.
  • Four times more likely to have a healthy birth weight with a doula’s continual support.
  • Mothers who were supported by a Birth Doula spend more time with their baby.
  • Babies had fewer septic workups.
  • Reports show a significant decrease in reports of vomiting, colds or a runny nose, cough, and poor appetite and a significant decrease in reports of diarrhea.

 

So now is when you decide how important these things are to you. A doctor, nurse, midwife, friend, and partner are all incredible and important pieces to the birth team, but absolutely none of them can take the places statistically of a doula. There is a doula for everyone woman… there is a perfect doula for you.

If you’re wondering how to choose the right doula, that’s my next blog!

What Is a Doula and Do I Really Need One?