The nursery is ready, you’ve gotten everything on your baby registry, and your pregnancy is nearing full term. But do you know how to labor effectively and push baby out?
We tend to over prepare for our babies’ arrival in ways that help us when we’re past the finish line, in postpartum. That’s all well and good, but we need to get ready for those last few miles of pregnancy, too. I’m likening pregnancy and labor to a marathon because it is! Actually, it’s even harder. Don’t worry, though. You’re tougher than all of it.
If runners have to train, be knowledgeable about their bodies and have the right tools to finish their marathon, then so do you! It’s important to be educated about labor and birth so you can be more prepared. Just picture it – you’ve been in labor for quite a while. Then your care provider tells you it’s time to push. You’re mentally, emotionally and physically tired. You can see the finish line but it’s one mile uphill. You may be tempted to tell your care provider to go do something unsavory. But you won’t – because you will know exactly what you’ll need to do next.
Have you heard this phrase? You probably have A LOT lately. You’ll be ready to push when you reach 10 cm dilation and feel a lot of pressure on your vagina and rectum, almost like you really need to poop (I know, gross, but it’s true). It’s at this point that you’ll want to bear down (exert pressure) and push.
We’ve all seen “hee, hoo, hee, hoo” breathing in TV and movies during birth scenes. This type of restricted breathing was popularized by Lamaze. However, Lamaze stopped teaching it in the 1980s, so popular culture needs to quit it with this one.
Evidence shows us that the most effective way to breathe during labor and pushing is whatever is most comfortable for the mom. Diaphragmatic, or belly, breathing is usually a very pleasant breathing technique for women during labor. When you feel a contraction coming on during pushing, try to take in a breath and then try to slowly release it while you bear down. Do whatever works best for you!
Don’t run your marathon without getting ready. There’s so much more to learn about labor and birth. Get all the tools and knowledge you’ll need by taking a childbirth education course. You’re almost there! You’ll be in labor soon enough.
It’s no secret the TV and movie industry likes to take liberties when it comes to accurately portraying events. But, its representation of birth is perhaps the most dramatic and is negatively affecting our perception of labor and delivery. The differences between a Hollywood and real life birth may surprise you. Below is my list of the worst birth myths that Hollywood perpetuates.
Laboring on Your Back
This is perhaps the most egregious birth myth out there. Known as the supine position in the birth world, lying on your back is the least effective position in which to labor. It is horribly uncomfortable, putting unnecessary pressure on your back during contractions, and doesn’t help move the birth process along. The only reason this portrayal has become commonplace is the popularity of the epidural, which requires people in labor to stay in bed because it causes numbness in the waist down (if it works correctly). Best evidence research proves that birth outcomes improve by laboring while walking and in standing and squatting positions. You are also more likely to tear when delivering baby on your back.
I’m not discouraging or encouraging an epidural. Lots of people get them, including myself after hours of excruciating back labor. All I’m saying is lying on your back before possibly receiving an epidural or while laboring naturally should not be commonplace as shown in the media we consume.
*If you’re thinking of getting an epidural, but don’t want to deliver on your back, ask your care provider about the possibility of giving birth on all fours in the hospital bed. Often the epidural will be turned down so you can feel the need to push after reaching 10cm. If your care provider says it’s hospital policy that you can only deliver on your back when receiving an epidural, talk to your childbirth educator and/or doula about it. They can provide you with research and evidence to speak about with your doctor.
**If you’re ever not happy with your care provider, you can switch to someone else!
Screaming Bloody Murder
Contractions are intense, don’t get me wrong, but you’re not going to hear screams coming from every room in the maternity ward. Most people try to breathe through them and give out a low, guttural moan, which is actually a very positive and helpful action during labor. Deep tone moans help to release tension, keeping the jaw loose and the perineum.
Surprise, surprise that the things women have been doing naturally during birth throughout history have an important purpose! Our bodies are amazing. We need to trust our instincts rather than what our media tries to sell us about childbirth.
My Water Just Broke!
Hollywood loves this one – the pregnant woman who has been experiencing little to no contractions all of a sudden has a gush of water spray from between her legs. Cut to a look of shock on the characters’ faces as the woman yells, “My water just broke!” Then they rush to the hospital. Life seldom imitates this art.
While, yes, some women do experience a gush of water when their amniotic sac breaks, it’s more common for women to feel a trickle of water down their legs. This all depends on where the amniotic sac breaks. If the protective barrier separates in the back or sides, then it takes longer for the fluid to get out, hence the trickle. Your bag of waters may not break at all until you start the pushing stage.
There’s also no reason to rush to the hospital if your water breaks beforehand, unless it smells funky and has a green tint. This could mean baby has passed meconium in the amniotic sac and your care provider will most likely want you to come in. Call your midwife or doctor if this happens.
*Remember, if you’re labor is low risk and you’re having a vaginal delivery there’s rarely a good medical reason for your care provider to break your bag of waters. It increases the risk of infection and there’s no harm in letting it break naturally on its own.
Hope you enjoyed reading about these birth myths! Learn more about childbirth with my Informed & Mindful Birthing online class.