This week covers the stages of labor and preparing the environment that you want to have while giving birth and in labor. With the winding down of the Natural Pregnancy and childbirth course, it is probably very apparent that you are progressing very quickly in your pregnancy. For me, I know I have felt more pregnant that I ever did even in the last days with my daughter. In many ways I am feeling very done with this pregnancy.
How to Relax during Childbirth & Labor
The basic idea of this class is becoming acquainted with the first stage of labor and how to properly relax. Something everyone should remember when anticipating labor is that is could be false labor. Therefore, eat, drink, walk, shower, and nap to see if anything changes. If there are changes, you’re not in labor. If there are, then you are properly hydrated, fed, and relaxed!
Make sure that you go through all the necessary steps of labor like a test review. Remember to be completely relaxed in whatever form of side-lying works best for you. You may want to review what positions increase the speed of labor and which ones might hinder the process. (See which positions might be helpful and download a position guide here).
Go over with your husband the environment that you want to have. This goes for at home or in the hospital… or both. With my daughter’s birth, we labored at home from 5am-3pm before ever getting in the car for the hospital. This time we are planning a complete homebirth and are so excited! It is best for you both to be on the same page and that you are reassured during the process and with the set-up of your environment. There is no reason for unnecessary physical, emotional, or mental pain during birth so try to pre-plan this as much as possible. In fact, it may be a great idea to have a coach’s checklist. Only you and your coach know what’s best for your situation, talk it out and write it out!
Remember there are various labor positions, explore what’s most comfortable now, because that may be a great option for your baby’s entrance into the world. Total Relaxation (like side-lying), Upright (leaning, walking, in the shower, dancing), Sitting (even if just using coach as prop or using a birthing ball), and Other (like pelvic rocking position).
For homework – continue as usual with nutrition and exercise being sure to focus on protein this week! The recommendation is walking a total of 45 minutes per day (20+25). Read chapters 17-20 in your book. And finally, try the rainbow relaxation technique. This was probably one of my favorite techniques because it allowed me to choose my favorite things/scenes of each color of the rainbow so that I could focus on them.
My husband would tell me to focus on a solid color and imagine an object morphing in to the color. For some reason it really helped me.
Second and Third Stages of Labor
Will you be able to recognize the urge to push? When should you push? How can certain birthing positions be helpful? What’s the importance of walking soon after the baby is born?
These are all questions associated with second and third stage labor. This week was again about reviewing, as if a test, second stage labor just like you did with the first stage. It is important that both mother and coach can recognize the signs associated with labor whether it is an attitude, physical signs, or anything apparent that suggests a change in stage of labor.
Second Stage Labor & Four Ways You can Recognize the Need to Push
- Feeling like you are about to have a bowel movement… yep. With baby number two I told my midwife I needed to poop 😉
- Simply needing to push
- Just not being able to get comfortable
- Having a feeling of urgency
Once you have this urge to push (whether you recognize it or not), you should only push to the point of comfort so that you do not add any extra stress to your body. Added stress to your physical body can cause tearing and other discomforts and problems. It’s also important to let your health provider know that you feel this. If you have a lip of your cervix in the way, they can hold it back like my midwife did.
To control pain and increase the effectiveness of each push, the “c” shape position is very important. This can be accomplished through squatting, but that may not be an option for your birth depending on your birth setting or how issues may arise. Therefore, as discussed previously, you can still accomplish this in a bed with the back of the bed tilted. You will need to hold back your legs, put your chin to your chest, and keep a curved spine. Holding your own knees back ensures that there is no unnecessary stress to the perineum, keeping your chin to your chest (and taking a deep breath) traps air to have a more effective push, and keeping a “C” shape in your spine keeps proper alignment and shortens the birth canal, allowing the baby to comes out in a “J” shaped fashion. For instance, with my second, the C shape was only accomplished by being supine and pulling my own legs back because it was the only way to birth her head and hand at the same time for me. The midwife did help support my back behind me because our bed was not tilted.
When in the midwife class, we were taught how to do this C shape effectively and how the coach could help support mom even though sh needed to do most of it herself.
Third stage labor
If you rip/tear during labor, it is important that your medical practicioner allows the placenta and umbilical cord to be delivered fully and stop pulsating before administering the local anesthetic. This ensures that the baby does not get any of those drugs. Personally with my second, this happened after my sitz bath and everything so baby was happy cuddling skin-to-skin with dad!
Immediate contact and breastfeeding (even if no colostrum gets to the baby and it is just a bonding time) helps expel the placenta, which can take up to 15 more minutes…and for me definitely did take awhile The Hormones of having your baby on you can help speed this process but not necessarily.
It is important to walk as soon as possible after giving birth because it can help restore circulation and allow your organs to realign… which means a happier, healthier you! They encouraged this in the hospital birthing class I went to because they said that circulation is crucial. They also said in this class that it’s important to not cross your legs why laying down because of circulation issues.
Even when I had my emergency cesarean, they encouraged me to get up and walk as soon as I could the next morning, but had electronic “things” for my legs to increase circulation while I couldn’t walk. If this means walking with help whether someone supporting you or with something like a walker, that is fine. The circulation and movement is what is most important.
For Homework – Continue exercises and nutrition (walking is now 25+25 minutes/day). Take a birth place tour if you have not already done so. This includes if you are having a home birth. Know your nearest and best local hospital with a NICU.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!