12 Tips to a Happier and Healthier Birth – Part One
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.) Since these tips have a few more steps, I have separated this into two posts. Here are the first 6 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 your options and say what you would prefer to happen throughout the process, which is empowering! It also gets everyone that is helping you on the same page.
I actually prefer to call a birth plan “birthing goals” because labor and birth doesn’t always go the way as you plan. It’s always good to be flexible so remembering that these are your goals and to be adaptable to change is important. Again, this exercise educates you on your options so you can handle those changes and ultimately have a more satisfying birth.
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), but you also want to ensure that everyone that is going to be in your birthing room understands your wants and desires. Make sure to ask your doctor/midwife questions so that you know that they are 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 won’t know who your nurse is, but if you feel like the nurse that is attending to you isn’t supportive of your wants and needs, your husband/partner can always request a new nurse by speaking to the charge nurse at the nurses’ station. Again, this is your birth and if you aren’t feeling supported, 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
You want to labor at home as long as you can. If you took your childbirth class at the hospital, they 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, 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 since 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, etc. 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 contraction 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. I do recommend though that you avoid fatty or hard-to-digest foods since they can make you to feel nauseous during labor and cause you to throw up. Having too full of a stomach can have the same effect so 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, these can cause you to lose fluids too 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. So get up out of that bed! You will feel so much better than laying there.
This is half of my list of how to have a happier + healthier birth. Here is the other half of my list!
I have been a part of some incredible births and I know that these things can really help you have the birth that you want. Comment below some other things that you think will be on the rest of my list!