12 Tips to a Happier and Healthier Birth

12 Tips to a Happier and Healthier Birth

If you read my 6 Tips to a Happier + Healthier Pregnancy, you are well on your way to having a happier and healthier birth as well! Those tips can definitely help you have a great pregnancy and birth, but there are a few more things you can do to have the birth experience that you want. (This is assuming that you are wanting a vaginal birth.) Here are the first 12 tips to a happier and healthier birth!

1. Write a Birth Plan

Writing out a birth plan can be extremely helpful because it makes you think about each part of labor and how you would like for it to go. The whole act of writing out a birth plan actually requires you to learn about all of your options and think about what you would prefer to happen throughout the process, which is empowering! It also gets everyone that is supporting you on the same page.

I actually prefer to call a birth plan “birthing goals” because labor and birth don’t always go as you plan. It’s always good to be flexible and remember that these are your goals. Being adaptable to change is important. Again, this exercise educates you on your options so that you can handle those changes and ultimately have a more satisfying birth.

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2. Create a Support Team

Your husband/partner will more than likely be by your side throughout your labor (unless you or your partner do not feel comfortable). Whoever is with you on your birthing day needs to understand your wants and desires. Make sure to ask your doctor/midwife all of your questions during your prenatal visits. By hearing their responses you will know if they are going to be supportive of the birth that you want. (Here is a list of questions to ask your OB!)

*Tip: If you are having your baby at the hospital, you unfortunately won’t know who your nurse is. However, if you feel like the nurse that is assigned to your room isn’t supportive of your wants and needs, your husband/partner can always request a new nurse. They can go to the nurses’ station and ask to speak with the charge nurse. Again, this is your birth and if you aren’t feeling supported or heard, you can request for someone new.

Since labor can be a long process, it’s also nice to line up some additional support. You might want to consider hiring a doula for extra physical, emotional, and informational support.

3. Labor at Home

It’s encouraged not to rush to the hospital as soon as you start feeling contractions. If you took a childbirth class, your instructor probably told you that the time to go to the hospital is when your contractions are 5-1-1. (Contractions are 5 minutes apart, each is 1 minute long in duration, and that is a consistent pattern for 1 hour straight). This is how we establish that you are no longer in Early Labor and are now in Active Labor. However, there are many couples that get turned away at the hospital even at this point and told to go home. The reason is they may not have much or any cervical dilation or their contractions slowed down. I always suggest that my clients go to the hospital when their contractions reach 4-1-1 or 3-1-1, especially if they are trying to have an unmedicated or minimal intervention birth.

Remember, when you are at home you are able to eat and drink. You are free to move around and be comfortable. I know that it’s exciting when the process starts and you may be nervous that the baby will come sooner than you think, but try to stay home until you’ve reached a little further along in your labor (around 4-1-1 or 3-1-1). I promise that it will help.

*Tip: Download a contraction timer on your smart phone so your husband/partner can keep track of the length of your contractions and the time between them. There are a few that are free and it does the math for you and keeps a record!

4. Snack Lightly

Eating light snacks during labor while you’re at home will help maintain your energy level. However, I recommend avoiding fatty or hard-to-digest foods since they can make you feel nauseous during labor and cause you to throw up. Having too full of a stomach can have the same effect. Whatever you decide to eat, be sure that these are smaller, lighter snacks.

5. Stay Hydrated

With all of the deep and rapid breathing that you are doing and with your uterus contracting every couple of minutes, you can lose fluids quickly. There was a study done at the University of California at Irvine that proved that doubling the rate at which IV fluids are given can shorten labor by more than an hour. How awesome is that?! “These women’s labors were also half as likely to last longer than 12 hours,” said Thomas Garite, MD, the study author. So be sure to drink water between contractions and let the nurse know when you feel dehydrated.

6. Don’t Lie Down

Lying down is the most uncomfortable position to be in during labor. Ever. Because of gravity, the baby’s head is then pushing on your back causing your contractions to become more intense and painful. When you are standing upright and moving, you are using gravity to your advantage because then baby’s head is pressing on your cervix, which is helping you dilate more and speeding up your labor. Movement also helps widen your pelvis, which allows your baby’s head to drop lower in your pelvis. So get up out of that bed! This will feel so much better than laying on the bed.

7. Massage

Woman receiving a prenatal massage.

You may be one of those people that loves going to the spa and getting a massage. Or you may be someone that hates massages because you don’t like to be touched. Whichever way you feel, I promise, you will appreciate supportive touch during labor. In a study done by the Touch Research Institute (Miami, Florida), they learned that laboring women who received massages from their partner or doula reported feeling less depressed, had less labor pain and anxiety during childbirth than those who were not massaged. When you stimulate an area of your body that is in pain, whether with pressure and/or heat, you soften the pain messages sent to the brain. So let your partner touch you or massage you. Tell them what feels best and whether it is helping during that time of your labor.

8. Distraction

When I first tell women how long labor typically lasts for first-time mothers, I know it’s not a fun answer. I personally have helped first-time mothers have a baby in less than three hours all the way up to 72-hours and everything in-between. There is no way to tell how long your labor will last. The average labor time for a first time mother lasts between 12 to 24-hours. When you first start feeling contractions–which may feel like lower back pain or lower-abdominal cramps–try to stay calm. You have a little while until baby shows up so try to distract yourself with other activities. Try taking a walk, reading a book, watching your favorite TV show, cooking, baking cookies, which you can give to your nurses. 😉 Basically anything that relaxes you. The more relaxed and distracted you are, the more it will help speed things along and not allow you to focus on the clock.

9. Get in the Water

When we are uncomfortable and feeling pain, it is common for us to tense our muscles in our bodies. Unfortunately when we do this in labor, it causes more discomfort and can actually slow down our labor progress. By taking a warm shower or bath, it can help relax your muscles, relieve those discomforts, and help you to progress your labor. I call hydrotherapy the natural epidural. It truly makes things feel better.

*Tip: Do not get into the tub too soon in labor because it can slow down and potentially stop your contractions. You want to wait until you have reached active labor or transition. If you are taking a shower, be sure to aim the showerhead at the small of your back or on your belly. Put the water wherever you are feeling your contractions the most. A shower is fine at any stage of labor.

10. Get a Hep-lock

A hep-lock or saline lock in someone's arm.

Image via clawdis.com

Having an IV can get in the way and limit your mobility during labor. Yes, it is hooked to wheels and can roll around with you, but do you or your partner really want to drag that thing around? Every time you want to move, walk the halls, or have to go to the bathroom it has to come with you. The reason why hospitals prefer an IV is they are concerned about having access to a vein in case an emergency should arise. They also want to make sure that you are hydrated. By having an IV, they will be able to administer fluids and/or medicine immediately should you or your baby need something. A hep-lock (also called a saline lock) is a great compromise. They will more than likely say no if you request to have neither, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!

So what is a hep-lock? A hep-lock is a portal for the IV drip that is threaded into a peripheral vein, flushed with saline, and then capped off for later use. It is not hooked to an IV pole so you aren’t tethered to anything, but the hospital staff still has easy access to a vein in case you need something later. As for dehydration, chew on some ice chips or drink water in-between contractions.

*Tip: If you do receive a hep-lock or an IV, request to NOT have it placed near a joint. It’s really annoying when you feel like you can’t bend your elbow or your wrist or move your hand during labor because your IV is in the way.

11. Let Your Baby Break Your Water

Breaking your water may help speed things up, but it’s not guaranteed. In my opinion, it’s one of the least effective ways of induction. If you must have your water artificially broken, I recommend waiting until you are at least 6cm dilated. Anything before that could cause no change and just put you more at risk of getting an infection.

Also, your bag of water helps keep your contractions a bit more tolerable. It acts as a cushion when your uterus contracts, softening the blow to you and your baby. When you no longer have that “cushion”, the strength of your contractions are more intense for you and can sometimes cause more stress on the baby. I have seen this happen to some of my doula clients. After the doctor breaks the bag of waters, their baby is no longer tolerating the contractions and now they need to have an emergency cesarean. My advice? Wait until your baby breaks your water on his/her own. By doing this, the chances of these things happening will decrease.

Another thing, some (very rare and special) babies can actually be born inside their bag of water, which is called being born in the caul. It’s pretty awesome and in my opinion probably the coolest and most peaceful way to be born.

12. Keep Breathing

You won’t believe how many women I see that either hold their breath during contractions or breath too quickly, which can cause them to hyperventilate. We always want to give plenty of oxygen to the baby so by taking slow, deep breaths it will benefit you both. Also, by slowing down your breathing and finding a good breathing pattern, it can help you focus better on relaxing during your contractions. It also helps you rest when each contraction ends. Controlled breathing is everything and it will help you maintain your energy all the way through.

Now that you know all of my tips to have a happier and healthier birth, I have one last thing to say that I tell all of my doula clients. Remember that labor is temporary and does eventually come to an end. Then you will receive the best gift ever, your baby! Keep going. It will all be worth it. 🙂

About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

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Even though things may be more difficult now to offer help, still try to be the friend you wished you had when your babies were newborns to your friends and loved ones. ❤️ Things you can do:⁠
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You're My Baby Forever, But My Newborn for Now⁠ You're My Baby Forever, But My Newborn for Now⁠ 💕⁠
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When I had my first baby, everyone told me to enjoy the newborn stage because it goes fast, and I would miss it. But I was so exhausted and overwhelmed I didn’t believe them. 😴 While I was living through it, it felt like it took forever!⁠
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If you are there now or about to enter this stage, it’s a yummy, delicious, snuggly stage. But for me, it has always been one of the harder ones, every time I go through it. So I see and feel you, mama! It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Hold tight, though, because it doesn’t last forever.⁠
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Daddy Chronicles: Breastfeeding 💙⁠ by @chroni Daddy Chronicles: Breastfeeding 💙⁠
by @chroniclesofdaddy⁠
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I've been asked so many questions by men about fatherhood. So I figured I'd drop some knowledge on my fellow Dads and soon-to-be-Dads. Here's what it looks like for the first few weeks or months after your child is born. Yup. If mom breastfeeds they pretty much are tucked like this and at times you'll wonder "what is there for me to do?" Here are my top 5 tips for any Dad after your child is born.⁠
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1️⃣ For night feedings. When mom wakes up in the middle of the night, you get up and ask if she needs any help or water. The truth is most of the time she will say no but just the fact that you offered will go far.⁠
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2️⃣ Ask mom if she can pump and then pick 1 feeding that you will always do. Mom will take on almost everything and will burn herself out if you let her. At times you may have to force her to rest without worrying about the baby. This is an easy way to do that without a fight.⁠
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3️⃣ Don't put a time limit on how long mom breastfeeds the baby. It's not just about feeding your child it's about them bonding as well. I know everyone has a different length of time they will breastfeed and as a Dad, it's hard to fully understand. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try and rush this process. It's not our place and it's not safe. You will open yourself up to a fight you can't win.⁠
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4️⃣ Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger and bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.⁠
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5️⃣ Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a child's life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby it's hard, but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. ⁠
If someone needs this info tag them ❤️⁠
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Absolutely love these tips from @chroniclesofdaddy. 🙌
7 Postpartum Yoga Poses That Strengthen Your Body 7 Postpartum Yoga Poses That Strengthen Your Body After Baby 🧘‍♀️⁠
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The postpartum period, or period of recovery that takes place after a mother gives birth, is an important time for mothers to take care of themselves. 🥰 Typically, if you’re less than 6 weeks postpartum you don’t want to put any pressure on your core muscles. Also, your body’s levels of relaxin, the hormone that loosens joints to prepare for childbirth, is elevated for 3-6 months after childbirth, and longer if you are breastfeeding. All this means is: take these postpartum yoga poses slowly and stretch yourself gently. No gymnastics here or pushing beyond what is comfortable.⁠
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Remember, every mama’s body is different, so listen to how you feel and seek advice from a medical professional if you have questions about how and when to begin your personal exercise plan. Note: Try to do the following yoga poses in the order they are listed. {Click 🔗 in bio to see the 7 yoga poses to strengthen your body after baby!⁠}⁠
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Article by: @kristen_vhmiddleton⁠
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