Understanding how to adequately prepare for labor as a couple is crucial to prepare for the big day. From understanding how to time contractions to knowing the stages of labor and what they mean. Week 4 of the Natural Childbirth class digs deeper into the relationship that the mother and coach have and the open communication they need to be successful during childbirth.
As always, I am not a doctor, nurse, or in the medical field. All posts are informative, based off of my experience in labor and birth, with my care providers, and on the classes that I attended. Please make informed decisions with your doctor, midwife, and/or any other care providers.
Week Four of Natural Pregnancy Boot Camp
Class four is about the Coach’s role and drugs that are used in pregnancy. The ideal coach in birthing should be enthusiastic, committed, strong, understanding, and good at keeping you relaxed. A good exercise to do as husband and wife is sit down and think through and share with one another what you think each other will be good at during labor and what you yourself think will be helpful. (What are your strengths going into it?) If this works well, then maybe list one thing that each of you could maybe prepare for a little more this week. Also, because commitment is a very important part of natural childbirth, it might also be a great time to discuss why each of you feel that it is important along with other issues like breastfeeding, pediatricians, vaccinations, etc..
After open communication time, talk about fears with drugs and birthing. “If it hurt so bad with drugs, then everybody should know that they should have them” is a common statement and needs to be addressed as a fear the mom might encounter. Drugs slow down the labor process, actually causing it to be more painful than it necessarily had to be. Plus, transition stage is the most painful part of labor and on average only lasts about 10-30 minutes… so for hours and hours of labor, you can do 30 minutes of intense laboring if you’ve made it that far – it’s just that most people are not informed of all the stages of labor and do not know that the really intense part is so short!
Read up on the stages of labor! Part of this is learning about dilation of the cervix, presentation/position of the baby, Effacement of the cervix (basically how your cervix is thinning to let the baby out), and Station of the baby (where is the baby’s head in terms of your hip/pelvic bones?). For the presentation, you want to be Occiput Anterior (OA) and not Occiput Posterior (OP). You can still give birth OP, but that would mean your baby is coming out “sunny side up” and you will probably have back labor. [Unfortunately with my last child, I was in frank breech and back labor the entire time. Not fun.] For those of you that don’t know, back labor can happen when the bulk of the baby’s skull is on your spine and sliding against your coccyx. To help give birth this way, especially if you know in advance… do A LOT of pelvic rocks and visit a chiropractor! While not always a “cure”, it is definitely your best course of action.
This week in class the midwife also discussed how our posture and sleep position can affect baby’s position! I had no idea. It makes sense though that the heaviest part of the baby is going to go with gravity. So sitting slouched and at an incline is going to make it more likely to have a posterior baby,
During labor, counter pressure can also be very important in helping, especially with back labor. Also, you might want to try to give birth on all-fours (as if you were doing pelvic rocks) if you are having back labor because it can bring your baby and uterus up off of your spine. I spent a lot of time on all fours while in labor and my husband used a massager and tennis balls on my back. Also, did you know 2cm is about the size of a penny?!
This week the chiropractor discussed with me how to use tennis balls as counter pressure and how to even use the toilet as a way to let my tailbone drop down while in labor if needed. (And with number two, I spent hours that way and was SO glad I learned this from my chiro!)
Practice contraction and understand that overbreathing can cause hyperventilation! Taking large deep breaths through your nose that fill your diaphragm and letting them out through your mouth is much more effective. Abdominal breathing can actually help you get through pain. Deep abdominal breathing is how you breath when you are deep asleep and most relaxed … and isn’t that the goal? Think about doing the hardest work while exhaling. And during this we also worked on timing contractions ourselves.
- Walking at least 20 and then 25 minutes a day – I know that for me, if I walk a mile, then I am getting about the right amount of time in. Since I am getting bigger each week, I am also getting a little bit slower in what a comfortable, yet energizing pace is. So maybe figure out a distance to shoot for like I did. Then if it means more time or a longer distance, then GREAT! That just means you are doing at least what you need to be doing.
- Tailor sitting often—I even tailor sit on the coach – it’s comfy. Enough said.
- Squat often—Yay squatting! First impressions are being shattered little by little. I asked my doctor about the squatting bar… he said he thought they had one, we will see.
- Butterfly stretch with tension—Make sure you are doing these! Maybe even mix it up and do it with a band a couple of days and with your husband a couple and maybe even find one of those thigh toners for the insides of your legs too.
- Pelvic rocks —You have added 80 in total for each day. I don’t know if you are like me, but my hips are not in alignment (as can be seen by one knee cap being slightly higher than the other) and this can cause a lot of pain if baby decided to lay back because I am not supporting her evenly and my back suffers and I get nauseous from pain. Anyways, if this is you, maybe add a few of these rocks where you kick each leg out to try to better align yourself.
- Love the Bradley book reading and hope you will too. Chapter five is all about the first stage of labor and preparing for it. It goes into detail about how animals give birth and how there are many ways that we can imitate them. For instance, a dog may snap at your if you interrupt her during labor… well coaches can know while you may not actually bite him, you may bite his head off and snap at him with your words if he is not assisting in the relaxation process. In this chapter, it also talks a lot about how we nest and how to know that we are going into labor and how we can prepare as best as possible. Chapter six is about the second stage of labor and your body’s needs in terms of positions like squatting and how to know when to push. Realize though, that those contractions are what are helping the baby out, so even a woman in a coma can give birth.
You are almost half way through your marathon baby training – Congratulations!
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!