12 Tips to a Happier and Healthier Birth – Part Two
If you read my 12 Tips to a Happier and Healthier Birth – Part One, I’ve gotten you halfway there. Who knew it would take this much to prepare for the birth of your baby?! I did. 😉 Here are the remaining 6 tips to having a better birth!
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. I promise, no matter which way you feel, you WILL want to be touched/massaged during labor. In a study done by the Touch Research Institute (Miami, Florida), 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 massage you and tell them what feels best and whether it is helping during that time of your labor.
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 to 72-hours and everything in-between. There is no way to tell how long your labor will last. The average first time labor lasts between 12 to 24-hours so when you first start feeling some contractions — which may feel like lower back pain or lower-abdominal cramps–try to stay calm. You have a while until baby shows up so try to distract yourself with other activities, such as taking a walk, reading a book, watching your favorite TV show, cooking, baking cookies (which you can give to your nurses 😉 ), 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 you are uncomfortable and feeling pain, it is common for you to tense your muscles in your body. Unfortunately when you do this in labor, it causes more discomfort and can actually slow down your 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.
*Tip: Do not get into the tub too soon in labor because it can slow down and potentially stop your labor. 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, wherever you are feeling your contractions the most. A shower is fine at any stage of labor.
10. Get a Hep-lock
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? I don’t think so. 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 at the drop of a dime should you or your baby need something, so 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 in case you need something injected into your vein 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 it is in the way, sticking out of your arm or hand and it can hurt and bother you when you move it.
11. Let Your Baby Break Your Water
If you’re in labor and someone offers to break your water to help make the process faster, say “no, thank you.” Breaking your water may help speed things up, but it’s been proven that it’s not always effective. (Actually, the majority of time it is not effective.) Also, the bag of water helps keep your contractions a bit more tolerable since it acts as a cushion when your uterus contracts. When you no longer have that cushion, it makes your contractions more intense and can sometimes cause your baby’s heart rate to plummet. Unfortunately I have seen this happen to clients where the doctor will break the bag of water and soon after, baby is no longer tolerating the contractions and now you need an emergency cesarean. My advice? Wait until your baby breaks your water. 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. Not good! We always want to give plenty of oxygen to your 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, but 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 + healthier birth, I have one last thing to say that I tell all of my clients. Remember that labor is temporary and does eventually come to an end and then you will receive the best gift ever, your baby! Keep going and it will all be worth it. 🙂