Having a baby holds a lot of unknowns. There’s no clear-cut answer to exactly how your labor or delivery will go, and it can be challenging for new parents to face these uncertainties. Despite what you don’t know, there are still a few issues that you can control. Ask any woman who has ever given birth and you may see her puff her chest and square her shoulders as she recants how she delivered without any pain medication and how wonderful her experience was. The truth is, while childbirth itself is wonderful, labor, contractions and having people shove their fingers in your “you-know-where” isn’t wonderful. Certainly some women handle it better than others – and if you are preparing yourself for the natural route, you will have challenges ahead, but they will end in a great reward with a sense of accomplishment and hopefully, a happy, healthy baby to boot.
Power, Positions, and Partner
drug-free delivery – birthing ball Having a baby without the use of drugs or medical interventions is a widely accepted practice. There are many resources and professionals available to make this process easier, but if you choose to go it alone or just with your partner, there are some techniques you can use to help you through.
Warm water is a good way to ease muscle cramping, so some women enjoy a warm shower or bath when in labor. You may choose a water birth for this reason.
Laboring on your back is probably the least effective way to give birth. Instead, encourage your baby’s decent through the birth canal by walking, rocking or squatting on a birthing ball.
Massage may help reduce pain for women who feel contractions in their back. You may hate to have your back rubbed while you are in labor. If so, that’s okay. Ask your partner or birth coach to rub your hands or feet instead. Remember though – it is normal as the body transitions to a complete 10 cm stage that most women do not wish to be touched at all.
Doulas are specially trained labor and birth coaches. Most doulas are certified and must complete several months of training in order to work with expectant moms. Doulas offer non-invasive care to mom through encouragement, emotional support, and wisdom for both labor and delivery. Doulas do not provide medical or emergency care but may be hands-on in many other ways. Groups like DONA International offer fantastic resources to help you find a qualified, certified doula that is a good fit for your birthing goals. You may want to meet with several, and then choose the doula that most closely fits your style. Most insurance does not pay for a doula’s services, and families usually pay them separately. Fees may range from several hundred to near one thousand dollars per delivery.
For those of you who know anything about these two categories, you may know that they are not terms that can be interchanged. They are different in approach and technique, but overall the goal is to deliver your baby through the use of controlled breathing techniques, guided imagery (focusing on someplace or thing that makes you feel at ease), or distraction techniques.
Both natural childbirth (also called the Bradley method) and Lamaze techniques rely heavily on your own inner strength to get you through labor. Because the power of your mind is so significant, many women find that training away their fear and learning to channel strength helps them have the delivery they wanted. Both methods focus on few or no medical interventions that might normally be used. For example, reducing the use of IV medications, epidurals, preventing episiotomies and C-sections, walking, eating and drinking are all addressed, and the most natural methods are emphasized. Many of these classes are offered by trained teachers and can take several weeks to complete, so start early.
No matter what type of delivery you end up having, child birth classes can be extremely helpful for moms, dads and partners for a couple of specific reasons. These classes are usually offered through a hospital and they focus on the anatomy and physiology of birth, along with a few more basics such as vacuum extractions, fetal monitoring and an overview of your stay in the hospital. These classes are different from Lamaze or Bradley classes, and if you are in the market for how to pant and blow, you will need to seek those classes elsewhere.
Your body will go through some very interesting responses to labor, and knowing when to go to the hospital, and when to sit tight can be confusing. Child birth educators are trained to teach others about the normal labor responses, and how to handle them. He or she will also teach you about how the baby moves through the pelvis, and how you may feel during each stage of labor. During the first stage you can expect to feel happy and excited. The second stage (which lasts until the delivery) is a more intense phase that turns a calm and normally sweet woman into another person on occasion. In fact, did you know that it is very common for women to scream one of two things as they push – “I can’t. I can’t do this!” or, “Get it out! Get it out now!” Your child birth classes will help you understand what’s happening so you can feel a bit more in control, and give your partner tips on how to help bring you back to reality.