Monday, April 7, 2014

Birth Series ::: Tips for going natural & Tid-bits

This is the last post in my natural birth series. It's been good to write all these things, for myself, and hopefully for others as well. I'd like to state again that I'm not a medical professional, but this is information I've learned throughout my own births. My hope is to empower women to believe in their bodies' ability to birth naturally.

My Tips:

-  Get a doula! {Y’all, this is so important}

-  Take a natural birth class - the class we took was awesome. It was a natural birth class provided by our hospital. A doula actually taught the class and I loved having her because she'd tell us what the 'hospital' would tell you, and then say, "but as a doula, I'd say...." I've never taken Bradley classes, but know people who have benefited from them.

Stay at home as long as possible. Don’t go to the hospital until 5-1-1 {Contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 1 hour}. It's also beneficial to have a doula to help you decide when to go. MOST people go way too early.

-  If you arrive at the hospital and your labor has slowed down – go walk around and get them going again before checking in 

-  State in your birth plan that you don’t want an epidural and that you don’t want it offered to you. Both hospitals I used respected this and it was never offered. {If you need a sample birth plan, feel free to contact me and I'll send you mine}.

-  You can refuse to be checked regularly. If you're checked way too often and aren't dilating/progressing "fast enough" then they'll want to start medical inductions.

-  If you have to get a heplock {iv port} – get it in your hand, not in the crease of your elbow so that you can move around

-  Request {and get your dr to approve} being hooked to a telemetry monitoring machine. That way they only monitor you about every hour. Otherwise you’re hooked to a machine and cannot really move around.

-  Prepare: will you need music? Tennis balls for back massages.

-  Take a hospital tour and envision how you might utilize the room/move around

-  MOVE AROUND throughout your labor! The more you move around – the more you are helping your baby move down and out. I feel like the little babes hardly get any credit for the great work they have to do to be born. Make it easier for them by opening your pelvis to help them shimmy down.

-  Go to the bathroom every hour {with Simon – I had the most intense contractions while I tinkled} but having an empty bladder is important because it helps make room for the baby to descend

-  Change positions every 30 minutes – help that baby move out. This is also a good reason for a doula because they'll act as a "director"
- Here’s a link to some good laboring positions: Labor Positions Link

-  Have your husband or doula push on your hips during contractions – this opens up the pelvis – helping the baby move down {learned in birth class}

-   focus during contractions – ride the “wave” and don't let the pain overwhelm you - work through one contraction at a time. You don't have to think about if you're going to "make it," just think about each contraction.

-  BREATHE through contractions. Screaming/yelling just expends unnecessary energy. Instead breathe.

-  Keep your eyes open during contractions - this was a biggy for me. I'd go to a 'dark place' when I closed my eyes, so it helped me cope with pain to have them open. I told my doula to tell me to keep my eyes open if she saw that I was closing them. Each person is different, but this might help!

-  If a nurse says that your doctor is recommending pitocin, and your doctor knows that you don't want to be induced, ask to speak to your doctor directly. There are definitely nurses who are pushy, might even lie about what your doctor said regarding induction, or may even say that you want pitocin {as seen in Kristal's story}.

-  Fortunately I never had back labor with either babes, but again, a doula is helpful because they'd know what to do to help you.


I couldn’t have birthed naturally without:

1.     My doula. {I really had to work for Simon’s birth, Ragan – not so much.} Couldn’t have done it without a birthing lawyer or someone to direct me – to help me change positions and to have a plan for how I was going to labor.  A doula is an asset to the mama and spouse.

2.     Tom. While a doula usually does the physical work, Tom was the one who put pressure on {squeezed} my hips throughout basically every contraction with Simon. I think maybe he was more exhausted from laboring than I was.

3.     Focusing on a point. This was so huge for me, but I realize it might not work for everyone. With both babes – I’d find a small point or an object, and during each contraction, I’d only think about that point. Nothing else. With Ragan, I did most of my laboring at home and I found a nail on our dining room table that was my focus. With Simon I was in the hospital the whole time and there were hardwood floors. I’d find the spot where the boards connected, and that was the spot. Some people chose to use a sonogram photo or something like that. For me that wouldn’t work because I moved around too much. When you’re having an intense contraction you’re not going to want to say, “hey, would you please mind bringing that photo over here to help me have something to focus on?” By that time, the contraction is over.

4.     Breathing. I breathed through each contraction. I’d focus on my point or object and just breathe through it. Think about the object and breathe. With good breathing, you can actually play the game of reverse psychology on yourself. With a contraction your mind freaks out and make you think you’re in severe pain. But if you breathe, your body is sending the signal to your mind that no, you’re fine.

{via}


Natural ways to induce 
*I wouldn’t do any of these until you’re 40 weeks. I believe that babies do best when they can cook as long as they can inside their mamas.

- massage {I had one the morning before Ragan was born. Of course there’s no way of knowing if this actually helped  – but I’m thinking it did!}

- acupuncture or a chiropractic visit {call ahead to make sure they offer prenatal services}

- LOTS of walking

- Climbing stairs – definitely helps that baby drop and helps them move down

- Sex - our childbirth educator said – what got them in there will get them out {sperm 'softens' the cervix

- evening primrose oil capsules- you can buy this at target - you can stick a pin in it to open up the capsule, then insert it like a tampon. Wear a pad though because the oil will leak out. I think you can take it orally too {but more affective if inserted} - it helps soften the cervix {maybe start at 39ish weeks}

- raspberry leaf tea  - you can start drinking this around 36-37 weeks – said to “strengthen” the uterus to help have more productive contractions. Also good to drink post-birth to help contract/reduce the uterus to its normal size

- nipple stimulation - {I know...... weird right?} - but this is actually the best method to bring on contractions because it causes your body to produce oxytocin - which is one of the labor "chemicals" that your body produces {pitocin is the synthetic version of oxytocin} - this works for sure, can use a breast-pump too.  Can look here for info about how to do it.

-spicy foods - I'm sure you've heard of this - not sure how effective it really is....

- your OB can strip your membranes - this works for some, but will only work if your body is ready. Recommended to wait until 40 weeks

- dancing or any kind of bouncing/squatting

- apparently eggplant and pineapple have some sort of "properties" that can help induce labor

- use an exercise ball when you sti – I sat on an exercise ball for almost 3 weeks before Ragan was born when we watched tv at night. You can sit with your legs open and sway from side to side or do small pelvic circles {like you’re hoola-hooping}. I was 6 cm dilated when we checked into the hospital with Ragan, so I think this helps!

 Drs want to see a baby and nurses/drs tend to be concerned if you’re “failing to progress.” Often when we allow our bodies to do what it was made to do – there isn’t an exact scientific “progression” formula that will be true for every woman {and yes – there might be an appropriate time where intervention might be necessary – but that’s why it’s important to have a dr you trust. Do they want to intervene because it’s REALLY going to be best for you/baby or are they wanting to intervene so that they can be home for dinner at 6?}

 If you’re interested at all in having an unmedicated birth or if you just want to learn more, watch The Business of Being Born. It’s on Netflix streaming and you can also find it on youtube. It’s a documentary, so it’s biased, but there’s truth to the information it shares. It's the source that gave me information about what to research.


Books my doula recommends:

Ina May's guide to natural child birth - she's a hippy kind of birthing pioneer - anyone who's done any research on natural birth would have heard of her


What ifs:
What if your husband isn't on board? Have him watch the business of being born. :) I was nervous about what Tom would think, and at the end of the day, as I presented information to him, he saw that it was healthier for me to labor sans medicine. He's become a pro-natural birth spokesperson as well. :) 

What if your family doesn't seem supportive? Well...it's your birth. It's your experience, not theirs. Even if you're in a "medical" family. You are not putting yourself or your baby in danger by going au'natural. In fact, studies show that you have a higher chance of having a safer birth if you're not induced or don't have a c-section.

What if you don't think you can do it? This thought crosses everyone's mind. It sure did mine. The good thing is that you only experience 1 contraction at a time - not all at once. Another good reason to have a doula is because they are such a major support/cheerleader for you. And birth doesn't last forever. It WILL be over. I was so nervous about pushing and how painful it would be, and it does hurt, but it's also totally doable. You're so unaware of time, that even if it's a long labor, it really does go by quickly. I just kept thinking that if I have an epidural, I could have pain in my back for the rest of my life, whereas if I just suck-it-up and deal with the pain, it WILL be over in a few hours.

Feel free to pass on any other what-ifs questions to me {chanehart {at} gmail {dot} com}


Links:

***Please feel free to share this series with anyone who you think would benefit from it.***

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