What if you could go into your birth feeling confident, powerful, and in control?
What if you didn't fear the pain?
What if you could go into labor knowing exactly what to do?
It. is. possible.
I'm going to let you in on six secrets that can make your birth awesome no matter how you birth or what happens during your birth.
1. It isn't all about "happy and healthy baby". It is about happy and healthy mama too.
YOUR FEELINGS AND BODY MATTER TOO.
When you start thinking about YOU as an equal part of this experience, you realize how important it is to think about things you'll need during and after the birth. You'll feel empowered to communicate your feelings, wants, and needs. You'll begin to think through how YOU WILL feel in certain situations and weigh that equally against how your baby will feel. The more you diminish your feelings and needs, the less you can be present for your baby. So don't. Get what you need for your baby and you.
And this isn't about taking risks with your baby's health for your own wants or not heeding a care provider's advice because it doesn't make you happy. It means that when something doesn't go as planned or a need or want is taken away, you feel empowered to ask for additional support, more help, or a compromise that will allow you to regain some sense of control, empathy, and support. It means thinking about you and baby when making decisions and planning for the positive and negative consequences of those decisions.
2. Knowing how your body works. YOUR BODY IS MAGNIFICENT!
Lady, do you realize what you've done? Your body is growing another human (and sometimes more than one at time). Your body is feeding, breathing, and teaching another human being. You didn't have to tell your body to do this. There was no instruction manual called "How to grow a baby". Your body just does it. And guess what, your body also knows how to get that new human being (or beings) out.
Learning the mechanics of your body will help you better understand how labor works, what your body does to help you and your baby through the birth journey, and what you can do (or not do) to help your body. Knowing the process of labor will build your confidence and lessen your fears. When you don't fear an experience, you allow yourself to be open to it; making birth more pleasurable and memorable for you.
3. Your body is meant to move in labor. Not be stuck in a bed.
Walking, moving into different positions, rhythmic movement such as swaying or lightly bouncing (like on a birth ball) is what helps progress labor. Allowing your body to naturally respond to where it feels pressure, discomfort, or yes, pain is your body giving you cues to what it needs to help labor progress and for baby to continue to move down into the pelvis.
Staying immobile and non-responsive to your body's signals (a common issue with an epidural) can cause labor to slow down or stall. This is not always a bad thing. Sometimes you need rest if your labor is long. Getting still and lessening some of your body's cues can help you get much needed rest for the hard work to come. However, if you choose to have an epidural throughout your labor, there are positions you and your partner (and doula) can help you move into to help your body and baby. A childbirth class will teach you these movement techniques along with the ones to try if you are not using an epidural.
4. You are running the marathon of your life.
I don't care if you've never exercised a day in your life. On your baby's birth day, you are an athlete, a champion, a bad ass, kick ass marathon runner. AND DON'T FORGET IT!
Let's go over what it takes to run a marathon. You train, you learn different running techniques, you gather all your supplies for race day and what you'll need after the race. You have your support team - your coach, your running mates, your friends who cannot believe you're going to run 26.2 miles. They are so in awe of you and your strength, determination, and abilities. They will be there to cheer you on from the sidelines.
Marathon day comes. You are ready. You're pumped and so is your support team. They know you can do this. You know you can do this. You also know that this is going to hurt but that you will not suffer. You trust your body to get across the finish line... chafed thighs, blisters, cramps and all.
You start your marathon. Your hormones are working. Adrenaline is pumping and as you begin to feel pain, endorphins will release to lessen the feeling and give you energy. You get your second wind and you keep going. Everyone is cheering you on. They aren't worried about your safety or have any thought that you need help. They trust you, your body, and abilities. They are there just to witness your amazing success.
But it will take time. 26.2 miles takes time. You may hit a wall somewhere along the way. You take a break... you walk, rehydrate, eat or drink some of those goo packets (super yuk). You may even talk to a friend who encourages you to keep going. And you do. Because you can.
You finish that marathon. You're sore but feel so good. You did it, you bad ass you!
Guess what? LABOR IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS A MARATHON with one critical difference. You don't need to train for this race. Your body NATURALLY knows what to do if you give it the time, space, and support to do it..... Yet for some reason, we continually make moms feel like they are weak or unable to handle labor on their own. It couldn't be farther from the truth. You are using the exact same hormones as you do in a marathon and it takes just as much patience, support, and dedication as a marathon. And the risks of discomfort or complications are pretty much the same. With a marathon, you could trip, have a heart or breathing issue, or exhaust yourself. Guess what? In labor there is the risk of a complication as well. But does that mean you don't try to run the marathon (metaphorically speaking). No! You take the risk and most of the time, you cross that finish line unscathed and get that baby!
So think of yourself as preparing for the marathon of your life. Instead of getting a medal and a super cool t-shirt at the end you get a baby. Don't let anyone treat you any less than a champion preparing for the marathon of your life.
5. You need support.
This isn't optional. Just like in a marathon, they have sidelines. It ain't for folks to enjoy the entertainment of the marathon (it is quite boring to watch runners go by for 26.2 miles). It is for the runners to see all the people that believe in them and are there to see them cross the finish line. These folks don't even have to say anything or be connected to the person running. It is just the visual suggestion that the folks on the sidelines 1) are supportive of the marathon and what the runner is doing and 2) that they believe that each person will finish the marathon.
Again... labor is the same. You need folks around you who support you, believe in you, and are going to help you when you ask for help. A 2013 peer review* that studied 23 research trials from 16 countries, involving more than 15,000 women in a wide range of settings and circumstances found that:
"Women who received continuous labour support were more likely to give birth 'spontaneously', i.e. give birth with neither caesarean nor vacuum nor forceps. In addition, women were less likely to use pain medications, were more likely to be satisfied, and had slightly shorter labours. Their babies were less likely to have low five-minute Apgar scores. No adverse effects were identified."
The evidence is clear. You need support. Commonly hospitals cannot provide continuous support to a laboring woman because they are supporting multiple patients. It will be important for you to have someone dedicated to you that you invite into your birth room.
You not only have a right but a responsibility to understand what medical treatments are being performed on you during your pregnancy and birth, what the potential risks are, and what alternatives exist. However, if you don't ask, you, unfortunately, may not be presented with this information. Therefore, it is important to remember Lamaze's B.R.A.I.N. as the acronym for the questions to ask when you are presented with a medical option.
If your care provider suggests a certain test, treatment, or intervention during your pregnancy or birth you can use B.R.A.I.N. to get the information you need to make an informed decision:
What are the BENEFITS?
What are the RISKS?
What are the ALTERNATIVES?
What is my INTUITION telling me?
What would happen if we did NOTHING (or waited?)
If you ask these questions, you should be able to make an informed and confident decision on how to proceed.
So that is it! The six best secrets for an awesome birth!
In our childbirth classes, we dive deeper into these six secrets and give you time to practice, role play and ask questions. Birthing Confidence offers online, in person group and private classes. Sign up for one today and have an amazing birth.
*Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5