Coping With Contractions - Transcript
So let's go ahead and get started. Everybody today is the class on coping with contractions. If you're new to me and you're unfamiliar with me, I'm Nicole joy and I'm a pregnancy coach. I'm a birth Doula and a childbirth educator. I also host that private group I mentioned called the empowered moms. I kind of hang out there and share a lot of great information and we have a really nice, um, you know, group of pregnant moms that we support each other and um, you know, I share a lot of these types of things in the group. Also, Monday nights, like I mentioned a, I go live for digital Doula q and a and you're welcome to come. It's free. Bring your questions and you can get them answered there too.
I got into the whole pregnancy coaching, birth doula and the birth world as a result of my first two births. So I have two kids, their ages four and two, and then this is my third that I'm pregnant with now. Um, so after my two very different birth experiences, I basically just can't stop talking about birth, so I've become kind of this bougie birth junkie.
So today, this class is coping with contractions. Um, I want to give you an idea on what we're going to discuss. So our agenda for the class, we're going to start with reframing pain. Then we're going to talk about what contractions really are. Then we're going to move on into natural pain management techniques, which a lot of people had been requesting this information. So if you filled out the survey, thank you, because it's helpful for me to know what is really what you guys really want to know about. We're going to talk about movements and positions that you can try and then tips for your birth partners. So if you don't have a Doula, which a lot of the women who responded to the survey and for me that you know, for various reasons, you're not choosing to hire a Doula and I find that is common.
So your birth partner, whether it's your husband, your wife, your mom, your best friend, these are things that they can be doing. So if they're not watching with you, totally okay. When I get the replay available, they can catch up or you can take notes and let them know and kind of educate them. And then we'll talk about relaxation tools, things that I like to use for births and that are pretty common in the dual. A world that are pretty easy to get, um, Amazon and they're cheap but can make a big difference when it comes to your, you know, relaxation during your birth.
So the first topic we're going to talk about is reframing pain and for a lot of people watching that might be kind of a new concepts. Um, and so let me explain it a little bit. There's this cycle called the fear tension, pain cycle, right? So a lot of women are super fearful of the pain associated with labor and it's this kind of cycle that happens where we're afraid of the pain so our bodies tense up and we tend to hold a lot of that tension which makes the pain worse and it's kind of this repeating cycle. And so it's not that I don't expect you to feel pain, you might, it's, it's reframing it, it's trying to look at this pain a little bit differently. So I'm going to try to explain that a little bit. So when you're experiencing fear, your body is releasing hormones that create this fight or flight response within your body.
Right? And the problem with that is that when those hormones are released and that fight or flight response is going, it messes with the release of Oxytocin, which is what you want. Oxytocin during birth is the love, well it is the love hormone, but during birth it does a lot of really great things for your body and so if you're interfering with that oxytocin release and it can make your experience more difficult in terms of fear, tension and pain. So I have a couple of quotes here too from INA gaskin and she, um, I called her the beyonce of midwives because she's amazing. So she's in her eighties. She's been doing this pretty much her whole life and she has some really incredible Ted talk out there, you know, some great information. A couple of books that are really fantastic. If you're really interested in natural childbirth, I would look up mine and may gaskin.
So we're the only species that can doubt its capacity to give birth. I think about that. So she said that in one for tech talks and I love it because it's true and if you're wanting to hear more of that talk, it's on Youtube and then it's easy to scare women. It's even profitable to scare women, but it's not nice. So let's stop it. I really liked that one too, um, because I feel like most of the people watching, if you grow up in the United States and you were exposed to media is representation of labor and birth a, it's scary. That's what we're showing. We're showing that scare, you know, childbirth is scary. Myself included. That's what I was brought up on and part of why I had the first birth experience that I had. So, so yeah, let's, that's kind of a little note I wanted to get going on.
And then in terms of reframing it, what we want to do is kind of change the pain cycle and kind of change how we approach, you know, looking at pain. Right? So a couple of ideas that I had one education which we're doing right now, so we're going to talk about it, right? What I'm kind of what to expect to support. So a lot of you have expressed interest in having somebody that's there with you supporting you and you want learn how they can, which is, you know, this is exactly what we're doing today, relaxation and coping methods. So we're going to learn some of those things, so
taking it a step further, we go back to that fight or flight hormone, and so if, if we changed the story a little bit and we move into a place of being super relaxed and relaxation during birth, instead of that fear, intention, what's going to happen as we won't have that fight or flight hormone rather will encourage our body to produce oxytocin, the love hormone, which is what we want and when our body produces and releases oxytocin during birth, it also is going to release endorphins. So these are also hormones and endorphins are your body's natural pain relief. And so, um, if you haven't yet been in labor and you haven't experienced it yet, they can kind of make you feel a little drugged. It's your body's natural way of um, you know, helping you manage the pain, but those things aren't happening as well as they could if you're tense and if you're fearful and things like that. So what you want to be super relaxed, that's going to create the best environment for your body to be birthing right?
And again, about reframing pain. So if you follow me in my group, I talk a lot about reframing words and I'm big on words because I think that words, um, you know, they have a huge impact on how we look at things and how we approach things and they get into our subconscious. So I'm really careful with the words that I choose to use a. and so you'll, you'll see me kind of changing some words in other places and some of these courses I keep kind of words that you're, you know, most moms are pretty familiar with. Um, let me see.
Okay. So I try to keep some of the words that we're familiar with, but when I talk more generally and when I work on my courses and things, I try to reframe words and you better words and better choices of words to get into my subconscious. So rather than looking at it as pain, I try to look at it as an intense thing and the reason why we're feeling that intensity and the purpose of the contraction. So we're going to get into that next. But we're looking at, you know, kind of pain and reframing the word is purposeful, anticipated, intermittent, unnecessary. So let's talk about, that's for contractions. And then fear, reframing, fear. I'm thinking of it as face everything and rise. So I want to start here on, you know, kind of taking a step back to talk about what contractions really are. A lot of you may be familiar with this, but I felt like it was important if we're talking about fear to really understand the purpose of contractions.
So what happens with contractions is your pituitary gland releases oxytocin, that love hormone we talked about, which causes your uterus to contract. And when you're, um, when you're pregnant, your uterus becomes the biggest organ in your body. So when your organ, when your uterus is contracting the contractions, and if you can see my hands, you know, if you're watching from a phone, it might be hard. But what's happening is the contractions are happening with the top at the top of your uterus, right? And what that's doing is pushing the baby down and helping him to descend to move out for birthright. So that's the purpose of contractions is to help the baby come down. The top of the uterus is contracting, the bottom part is relaxing and stretching and so it's this periodic and rhythmic like tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscle and that's why you hear contractions talked about and waves. So it's building up to a peak and then fading and it's what's happening is, you know, it's pushing the baby down. So you'll hear a lot also about timing contractions and how to time them from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. Um, my tip would be to download a contraction timing app so that in the moment you're not scrambling with paper and pen and trying to remember how to time them, just get an APP. They're free, it's easy start, stop, and it's a lot easier.
So a lot of moms also will ask me things like, what contractions feel like? Um, it really varies person to person, right? So common answers to this would be cramping, tightening, pressure. You might feel it from your back, wrapped around to your front and your stomach. Actually, your abdomen hardens pretty hard during a contraction because it's like your muscle contracting, right? So you can actually see it from the outside that things are hard. Um, so that's what they feel like a lot of women do. Describe them as painful, but also keep in mind a lot of women are coming from a place of fear and I get it, you know, I'm there too, so I get it. And this is something that we have to work through sometimes
a little bit more on the purpose of contractions, just in case you're not familiar because I'm really into education and I'm nerding out and can't help but tell you this stuff. So the purpose of the contractions, I'm one to dilate your cervix. So you'll hear your doctor talk about going from zero to 10 centimeters, which to put that in perspective, one centimeter is about the size of a cheerio and your baby has to pass through your cervix to come out. So if one centimeter is about the size of a Cheerio, 10 centimeters is about the size of a Bagel. So your cervix will actually open and dilate to 10 centimeters the size of a big Bagel for the baby to pass through a. The second job of contractions is to efface the cervix. So you'll hear this expressed as a percentage like you're this, you know, you're 60 percent effaced. Um, and what that is, is softening of the cervix as well. So it's, it's opening and it's softening. And if that's hard to kind of visualize something that I, a demo, a quick one that I like to do with a lot of moms in my, it's all explained like if you take your finger and kind of push on your nose a little bit and you feel how hard that stickiness
and then take your finger and kind of push on the inside of your lip and feel the softness. And so it's not a perfect comparison, right? But it is a good. It gives you a good idea of what we're talking about in terms of effacement and softening of the uterus, the cervix, and. Sorry. So if you're pushing here, pushing here, you can feel the difference in the softness.
And then the third job is for the, um, the contractions job is to move the baby down into the pelvis that we've talked about. So contractions happening at the top are pushing the baby down into the pelvis. Uh, the fourth job is they're also moving your cervix forward, so the contractions actually your cervix moves during birth and the final job is to change the baby's position, so to rotate and descent. So he's coming down, but he's also rotating. So babies do a lot of moving during birth. And we're going to talk more about why you moving. Helps them to move during birth. So their station level also, they go from negative three to three and that's not. So it's not on the, on the graphic here, but I'll show you really quickly. So here's my little pelvis model. So this is your pelvis, right? And so when you're pregnant, your baby is kinda hanging out up here. I know it feels like he's down there, but he's actually kind of hanging up here. So when we talk about going from negative three to three, we're talking about where he's at in terms of his descend, so when he reaches the base of these bottom of these pelvic bones right here, that's at a zero, and then as he moves out, he moves to one, two, three, so you don't have to know that, but I thought it would be kind of helpful
to give you a little backdrop on contractions.
Now we're going to move on to natural pain management techniques and there are several sections, um, this just keep in mind that not all of these are going to be things that you will enjoy or that you might be interested in for your birth. These are just, you know, as many pain management techniques as I've heard of all kind of thrown into this, um, to this class and you can kind of pick and choose what works for you. Um, and also I want to mention that this is not to, this is not to encourage you or try to coerce you into having a natural birth. You may want an epidural and that's entirely okay. This is to give you options before you get the epidural too, because you don't get it right away, so you might have contractions at home for several hours before you even reached the hospital.
Um, and so these are things that you can be doing until then, if you're not getting an epidural, fine too. So whatever your plans are, this isn't to try to convince you to not have an epidural. I've had to. So, um, you know, this isn't, that's not the purpose. So I just want you to be aware of these things that you can use until you get it, if you're getting it or if it doesn't work, you know, because if a lot of women feel like I'm, the epidural didn't work properly, and so these are things that you can kind of have in your toolkit.
Okay? So the first one I want to talk about is creating that relaxing, calm environment. So earlier in the class I mentioned that when you're relaxed, that's when your body and the hormones are working the best to help you with natural pain management. So to create that calm environment, um, there's a lot of things you can do and this is actually included in, um, in my birth plan downloads, I have a free birth plan on my website that I'll share later after class that you're welcome to. It said editable, you know, customizable version. Um, and so part of it talks about creating your calm and relaxing birth environment. So aroma therapy. So if you have essential oils that you like, things like that, there are certain ones that are really good for, for labor and for calming music. Music is huge. So think about what kind of music relaxes you usually.
So what is your go to music when you want to be relaxed, that might be something that you want to include in your labor playlist when the time comes that you want to be relaxing, right? And most hospitals, most places will allow you to bring your music in. So that's not an issue. And you can bring your playlist lighting. Okay? So this doesn't sound like much, but lighting is huge and I want to say why? So the image I have here is this woman in a kind of dimmer room, um, because dimming the lights is certainly possible in the hospital now when the time comes that you're actually pushing your provider might want to turn a light on so they can kind of see what's going on. Um, but throughout your labor you don't have to have bright lights on you.
Um, and think about why that might be an issue, how relaxed really argue with all these bright lights are on you and you have a lot of medical providers, you know, kind of poking and prodding and in your face it's not very relaxing. So a lot of moms really like to have dim lighting in their birds environment. The other kind of reference I want to make there is when you're in labor, especially when you're pushing, you're, you're doing a lot, you're using a lot of the same muscles and a lot of the same movements as when you're going to the bathroom. So when you're pooping, right? And when you go to the bathroom, when you're pooping, do you keep bright lights on and keep doors open? And have people in your face, you don't really do that, you kind of like it a little bit private, you know, you want a little bit of time to yourself and you shut the door.
So kinda the lighting goes hand in hand with that. Um, and then, you know, keeping the door closed if you want the door closed in your hospital room, things like that to kind of give you that privacy. And a lot of moms tend to like that, um, that feeling and it relaxes them more kissing. So I included kissing in here because obviously kissing is relaxing, right? So if your partner is there and you can ask for a couple of minutes alone, make out and kiss, it's going to relax you. It'll also encourage that love hormone, oxytocin to continue releasing. So kissing and making out during labor is a great idea.
Encouraging words, guided imagery and birth affirmations all kind of go together so you can talk to your birth partner and whoever is there to support you about what types of things you might want them to say to you. Um, words that are encouraging, like you're doing a great job, you know, your, whatever it is that kind of speaks to you that you might want to hear the moment. Guided Imagery is kind of like visualization, so you can have prerecorded things that you're listening to, you can have meditation type things you're listening to or that you ask your birth partner to read to you in the moment that are kind of encouraging words, but things that maybe you choose ahead of time. And then birth affirmations are statements and positive birth statements that help you kind of stay focused in a positive way. And I have a lot of great ones on my pinterest that you're welcome to check out. Um, a lot of moms like to print them out. You can print them and bring them to the hospital and actually kind of take them up or hang them. Or you can simply write them down and bring the list with you. If you want. A lot of moms find, find the birth affirmations really helpful in the moment.
Okay. And then also let's talk about early labor. So early labor, you'll probably be at home, your hospital probably won't admit you until you're in active labor. So when you're in early labor, a great thing to do is to rest. If you can take a nap or journal or meditate or do some visualization techniques, um, try to keep your activities in that time to kind of coincide with the time of day. So if it's 11:00 at night, um, I wouldn't get up and go out and start walking the neighborhood to try to push labor along. I would rest, I would try to get some rest because your body might need it. So if you can sleep, sleep, so try to kind of, you know, keep your activity level lined up with the daytime time of day.
Hydrotherapy is a big one. So when you're laboring at home or even if you get to the hospital or the birth center, wherever you're birthing, um, you probably will have access to a shower, a bath, maybe, maybe not. But when you're going through contractions and you're trying, you know, you're feeling that intensity. A lot of moms really love the water, um, myself included, so I sat in the tub for like three hours when I was laboring with my daughter, but my second, um, and a lot of moms love it, so consider just sitting in the bathtub for a while, whether you're in early labor, active labor, uh, sitting in the bath and if it doesn't feel good, get out, try the shower. That hot water kind of hitting your lower back. A lot of moms really liked that too, to help through the contraction intensity. If you're not able to get into water either through the shower or the bath, what wash cloths can be really nice. So if you're hot, get a cold one and have somebody you know, keep cold wash cloth on your body. And if your cold have a warm winter. If you feel discomfort, maybe a warm washcloth on a certain part of your body could be helpful in the moment.
Also to cook through contractions. Another great natural thing to do this you should be doing through your whole labor is focusing on your breathing. So what you don't want to be doing is holding your breath and clenching up and that tension, you know, kind of feeling that tension rather, which you want to be doing is breathing. So I'm not going to teach you I'm breathing techniques because I feel like they're very intuitive and there's something that in the moment you'll kind of know and I want you to rather than me teach you how to breathe, I want to explain to you that you should listen to your intuition on how to breathe in the moment. So if you're feeling like certain brands and certain rhythms are working, use that and use those. If you don't try something new with the next contraction. So try to keep in mind that contractions are only, you know, so many seconds long.
Maybe you say a minute or minute and a half and then you get a rest period. So if something's working really well for that minute, do it again. If it's not working, then you try something else. So lightened slow rhythms work for a lot of moms, any kind of rhythmic pattern. Moms tend to really like moaning, grunting, and don't feel ashamed to make noise during your birth. It's totally primal. It's totally normal. And if a doctor or a nurse makes a comment about you making noise during birth, um, and they're probably in the wrong line of work, um, because it's very natural and physiological for your body to create those noises when you're birthing. Um, it helps with a lot of things. One being and let's, let's also include horse looks and raspberries and that. So Horse Lips, and this looks a little silly, but I really don't care because I teach about birth. So horse looks are like when you kind of loosen and you know, you make a horse sound. So kind of like that. I'm blowing raspberries. It's like what you do with your kids when you know you're tickling them and you kind of grabbed their arm or their tummy and like blow a raspberry on their body. So Moaning, grunting, horse slips and blowing. Raspberries are all things that when you're making these noises and the sounds with your, with your vocal chords and with your throat, with your voice, what's happening
at the same time is your pelvic floor muscles, so the muscles that you use during birth to push the baby out are relaxing and that's what you want. You want to relax the pelvic floor muscles, so making those noises and doing those things in the moment might seem silly or you might like, oh, I'm going to be embarrassed if I do. That would you shouldn't be embarrassed because it's physiological. It's, it's your body working the best way that it can during birth. So if those pelvic floor muscles are relaxed, it's a lot easier for the baby to come out and practice it at home. If you're comfortable trying at home, I know I look silly doing it on video. I don't really care because I feel like, you know, getting that practice and you know, try doing horse looks and blowing raspberries and see if you can tighten your pelvic floor at the same time. So tightening. It feels like a kegel. You can't tighten it. And do cables at the same time that you're doing those things. It's forcing your body to relax, which is a good thing. So breathing patterns, all of these things are forcing your body to relax. And so you always want to go back to your breathing. If nothing else, clenching and being tense is not. It's the worst thing you can do in the moment.
Okay. The next one I want to talk about is hypnosis.
And I don't mean the old school hypnosis that you may have heard or seen on tv where you're kind of hanging this clock across somebody's face. There's a couple of programs that are the most common called hip, no babies and hypnobirthing. There are subtle differences in the way that they teach. But basically what you're teaching, what you're doing is you're listening to these audio tracks that you're working on a subconscious level to retrain yourself, to think about what's going on in your body. Um, it's really interesting. And I'm actually studying no babies right now for my third birth. I had mentioned before, I've had two epidurals. I had a c section with an epidural for my. First I had an epidural, vaginal birth after Cesarean with my second, and then for this third baby I'm studying hip. No babies have a natural second VBAC. VBAC is vaginal birth after Cesarean. So hip, no babies is really interesting. And um, they have, you know, the. So there are subtle differences. If you're interested, let me know and I can show you kind of were to find out more about them. Um, but that's what I'm talking about when I mean hypnosis and when you see a mom giving birth
while she's using hip, no babies or hypnobirthing a system, she doesn't look, I mean, it's different than what you might expect. So I have this image of this mom here that just looks super relaxed and she's almost sleeping and that's what a lot of moms that use hypnosis during birth actually look like they almost look like they're sleeping and resting and they're maybe not asleep and they're probably feeling some discomfort, but it's the way that they kind of worked through it. Um, it's just really a different thing. And so I'd encourage you also to go on their website and you can see a lot of birth stories that women have used it in a baby's in hypnobirthing and it's um, you know, their testimonials, kind of speak for it. The next category I want to talk about is acupressure.
Acupuncture is a really effective pain, natural pain management. So there are several acupressure points on your body that can help in labor. And I'm going to cover a couple of them and then I'll also link to some websites later too if you want to read more about it. So one here is that point of the large intestine point that's on the, you know, kind of in between your thumb and your first finger there so that applying pressure to that point can help you to induce labor. So if you're looking at natural induction options and we talk about it, talk about acupressure, that's a point that can really help and also help you manage the pain in labor. So what suggestion would be to try massaging that point for one minute on one minute off. Another acupressure point is also in the hands. It's right there in the center of the palm and this can also help you to induce labor. And so the suggestion here is to try the light massage on that area for a few seconds. So if you're trying to induce your labor and your, your full term and you're trying natural techniques first, um, maybe ask your partner to give you a massage and your hands and apply pressure to these particular points.
Okay, here's another acupressure point. This is in your leg and it's kind of on the, on the inner part of your leg just below the calf but above your ankle. And so I would not suggest trying to find that point on your body right now because if you're pregnant, that can be a spot that can help to induce labor as well. So I don't want any, I don't want you to start messing with it right now, but when you're ready and when the time comes, it can be helpful for inducing labor. Um, and again, the suggestion here is to apply pressure for a few seconds and then give yourself a minute break in between. And then the last acupressure point that I want to mention is here on the back of your, on the back of your foot, kind of next to your ankle. This is the bladder point. And it's helpful to promote labor and to help us labor pains as well. So if you are in labor and you don't remember all of these things, what I want you to take from this is that maybe you have your partner, whoever's with you, your mom, your husband, boyfriend, um, massage your feet and your let your lower half of your leg. If they really get in there and do some massaging, even if they don't remember the exact spot and more likely to, you know, come close, right? So remember the lower half of the leg, the foot and the hands.
All right, so then now let's talk about the types of massage too. Um, there are different types that some moms find helpful in different parts of their birth. So the two big categories, or the distinguishing thing I would like to make here is a,
the massages that you would have during contractions versus the massage types that you would have during rest periods. So we talked about contractions having that wave, right? So when the wave is over, you have a rest period before your next contraction. So during the contraction would a lot mom finds really helpful. It's kind of a steady and firm grounding pressure, so kind of a, you know, a steady push as opposed to a massage during the rest period. So during the rest period you might take that sturdy, firm grounding pressure and turn it into a stroking movement to kind of, you know, slide up something. So if you're massaging the back during the, during the contraction here, this, this picture, let's say for example, he's pushing her back, right? So during the contraction he might just be really pushing hard and then after the contractions over he's kind of smoothing it and stroking it out if that kind of makes sense. So I have a picture here to have this man who's massaging her feet, you know, during rest periods, get that foot massage going, you know, have whoever's there with you massaging your feet, massaging your lower legs and you know, encouraging labor to continue helping with the pain. And it's also relaxing.
Here's an example of a woman sitting on a birth ball during her hospital labor and she's getting a back massage here. So I just wanted to kind of show you also the use of a birth ball during labor because we're going to talk about that more in the future in a, in another section. And then here's a picture. This is actually me and my doula. I'm, so, my Doula has, is um, one love Doula services. It's the eml is here and so we're using a peanut ball. And so if you're unfamiliar with the peanut ball, it's a lot like a yoga ball, but it's just in the shape of a peanut and it's really ideal for use when you're laying down. So if you have had an epidural, you can lay down or if you want to rest for a little while, even if you haven't had an epidural and you want to just lay down for a little bit and catch the rest using the peanut ball, it's really helpful to continue opening your pelvis and then she can be massaging you or he, whoever's with you can keep massaging you while you're laying down using the peanut ball.
And then we talked about that grounding touch. So from pressure during contractions, um, this image isn't fantastic because this man, he looks a little scared, but um, you know, I liked that it showed that he's kind of hugging, holding. Some women really liked that during birth you might not, but it might be something that you enjoy, like affirmed steady hug or hold or touch a rebozo hug. And I'm going to go into a little bit more on where Bozos as well. And so here's me and my doula again. And then she showing, applying counter pressure to my lower back. So what she's doing here is going to help if you have back pain or back labor and something you can do during contractions that firm grounding pressure on the lower back if you're having back pain especially, and I'm leaning over the Yoga Ball and you could see my legs are kind of open so I'm keeping my pelvis open and leaning over the yoga ball like that is really nice because it takes the pressure kind of off in the weight off of your pelvis. So you can do this at home, you should be doing this at home. If you're watching this and you're pregnant, you should be on your ball and just moving around and letting your body kind of opened up and be flowing with the ball.
Really good for your pelvis.
So these are a few more examples of counter pressure you can see in the far left picture. And in the second picture, actually, even in the third, she's kind of doing this, this hip squeeze, which is really common to a lot of moms really like the hips squeeze and why they like it is because it might be hard for you to see. But, so here's my pelvis again, right? So here's the back where the spine is and here's the front of the pelvis. So when, when your birth partner is doing a hip squeeze like this, it's liquid, it's doing to the your pelvis, it's opening up, it's opening the bottom of your pelvis up so it feels really good, but it's also beneficial for your labor progression because it's helping the bottom of your pelvis to open and move. And your pelvis is moving during, during birth, right? So these are a few examples of what it might look like hanging on the ball during labor and getting that counter pressure. Let's talk about the Rebozo. So the rebozo is a long woven scarf that is traditionally used in Mexico.
And so a lot of these rebozo options are helpful for pain management, for baby positioning, for movement, for support. There's a lot of different things you can try and I will share a link to a couple of helpful websites that provide a lot greater detail if you're interested in a proposal and you can get one, I have a link to where you can get one as well on Amazon for like $25. So if you are interested in one, you can get one, you can reuse it for a baby carrier later or you can keep it as just like a shawl or you know, kind of a throw blanket around the house. I have a solid black one that's pretty simple that I like.
And so what we're showing here in this picture is this rebozo sifting.
So she's got the ribose wrapped around my belly, kind of like a hammock and she's holding it up like this to kind of lift the pressure off of me from holding my stomach. And then she can sift it and kind of move it, and that movement can help the baby moved out, right? And help with positioning. Um, you wouldn't want to do this if you have an anterior placenta. So I would be cautious if you're a placenta is upfront, I would be cautious with how you use the word goes out, just FYI. And that'll be in the links that I share as well.
Another way you can use the Rebozo is for squat support. So squatting during Labor is really, really good for your pelvis to open. It's really great for your pelvis to open, right? And the gravity is helping baby to come down, right? So holding onto something like this gives you support when you're squatting, but what it also is doing when you're using your upper body muscles, so you're using your arms and your, you know, your upper body's tightened to hold onto this thing. What's happening to your lower body is it's relaxing a little bit. So we talked for about relaxing your pelvic floor muscles and that's kind of a byproduct of being in this position with the Rebozo.
A couple of other times not to use a rebozo. If you have a history of miscarriage or losses. We talked about, if you have an anterior placenta, it's not a great idea to use the rebozo. If there's a concerning fetal heart rate, you wouldn't want to use the rebozo. If your baby is breech and the water have your waters have broken, then there's the risk of cord prolapse and you wouldn't want to use it if you have placental abruption, abnormal vaginal bleeding, or if you just don't like it, obviously, right? Don't use the rebozo.
Uh, one thing I wanted to show you here, it's hard to see, I guess you can't really see here. But, um, when you take the scarf, when you take the Rebozo and we talked about that hip squeeze, just a little side note if you're interested. So they have squeeze, can be really exhausting for your birth partners arms if they're doing it off and on every minute for several hours. So if your birth partner finds that their arms are getting tired, if you have access to a Rebozo, a little tip that you can take the ribose and tie it around your hips so it's obviously here around my stomach, but if you moved it down and tied it around your hips with a tie at the back and bring a wooden spoon from home and kind of, you know, put it in the knot and use the spoon as a torque to turn and tightened. The rebozo is around your hips so that way you're recreating that hip squeeze without exhausting your birth partners arms, so just a little idea and those wooden spoons or like three bucks at target.
Alright, now let's talk about movement and positions. So movement and repositioning and labor. It's not only good for pain, it's good for the baby to move down and progress into your birth canal. It's great overall for Labor. So if you haven't had epidural, if you're not getting one or if you haven't yet had one, you want to be moving as much as you can. I mean, I don't mean running out and going outside and running three miles, I mean moving around, walking, being in these rhythmic movements and changing positions because you're helping your baby to move when you're moving. So movement, walking, dancing, rocking, swaying. A lot of these things have rhythm, right? So when you're dancing, you're swaying, you're rocking. We talked about rhythmic breathing. Now we're going to talk about rhythmic movement as well because you can bring that rhythm into your movement whenever it feels good, so bring your intuition, bring rhythm, and try to see what feels good in the moment and get in a rhythm.
These things are a little bit, these aren't as simple as walking in and kind of standing around and dancing, but these are things that really, really can help a slower moving, slower progressing labor to pick up and speed up a bit. They can also help your pelvis open. They're just helpful to know for Labor progression. So we're talking climbing stairs, so here's me and my Doula. Just kind of showing what that looks like. Doing these stair launches really good for progressing your labor. I'm stretching any kind of squatting or supported squats and I have a few pictures that I want to show you further down too. So here again is that picture of me squatting with the Rebozo and then to reiterate that squatting is really great because you have gravity working in your, you know, in your favorite here and helping the baby move down. You're also widening the bottom part of your pelvis, so the outlet where the baby's coming out.
All right, so these are some really fancy pictures of what a supported squat looks like. I, you know, the best I could find, but to give you an idea of what a supportive squat looks like, somebody just basically holding you up or helping you to get in. A squat has during labor. You certainly heard any somebody there kind of supporting you and I'm squatting by yourself can be rather challenging at that point. Of course, so good for the mobility of your pelvis. Again, the gravity or lengthening your trunk so you're helping the baby to have room to move down.
Now if you're in bed and if you've already gotten an epidural, depending on how strong your epidural is, you may be able to use the squat bar. Um, and if that's something that interests you, I would talk to the hospital about it because you can use it in the hospital bed. They can go get it, they can set it up for you and it's a lot better than laying down flat to birth so you can, you know, even if you're stuck in bed or if you don't want to be up moving around for awhile, consider a leaning up and using the squat bar because then you're still opening things up and trying to recreate that, um, that fiscal, you know, squatting, um, but without being necessarily kind of stand squatting. So here you can do it in the bed.
Okay? Sitting on the toilet. So remember I talked earlier about how labor and pushing. You use a lot of the same muscles as you do when you're pooping. So a lot of moms naturally, when they're listening to their intuition, tend to ask to go sit on the toilet to labor because it helps your pelvic floor relax. It's the same muscles. And so if you're thinking about when you have to go to the bathroom, you're not going to lay flat on the back of a bed and hospital and try to poop that way. It just doesn't work. You're naturally going to go sit on the toilet and getting the right position, maybe even use a squatty potty and help your pelvic floor stuff open up and help it to relax, to let something come out. So same concept with the baby coming out, right? Bring your birthing and also ask your hospital if they have one. So here's an idea of sitting on the birthing ball, bouncing around, moving, rotating your hips. I'm just constantly being in movement. Be Cautious of the size. So I'm five, seven, I use a 65 centimeter size ball. And what you want is for your knees to be below your hips. So again, if you're watching this, you're pregnant, you hopefully have a birth ball at your house. If you don't, I'll share the link there on Amazon and you should definitely get a birth ball and be on it as much as possible because it's just so good for keeping the baby in the right position and helping to create that fluidity in your body. And, um, you know, allowing baby to make his way down.
Here's another idea of just kind of leaning forward and kneeling over the birth ball. It can feel really good. I think about when you're done with a quick workout and you want to stretch, try this next time you do a little workout or you go walking, come home and just stretch. Sit on the ball, move around, lean on it, you know, kind of kneel on the floor, open your head, see how my knees are kind of wider than my hips. I'm opening my pelvis here. And so kind of getting in that motion and rocking and moving. Um, it's really good practice for labor and you can do this during labor. So if you're at the hospital and you're using their birth ball, they'll give you one of those sanitary napkin matts to lay over it like a sheet. The hospital will sanitize them.
Here's another position that a lot of moms like, again, when they're listening to their intuition, some moms just want to be standing up and again that gravity is benefiting here, so leaning forward into the wall, leaning onto somebody and kind of supported standing position. A lot of moms find it very comfortable and it can help, you know, with the intensity of a contraction rocking slow dancing again. So if you're there with your partner or your mom or whoever's there to kind of hold you up and support you to kind of get some rhythm and get some movement,
hands and knees is a great, great, great position for birth. It's a great position for Labor. It's also a really good position for pushing. So FYI, if you haven't already seen my vaginal tearing class, it's one hour and 11 minutes. All I talk about is how to minimize your chances of tearing. So if you are planning a vaginal birth, which if you're watching this, you probably are, I highly recommend watching that video. It's on my website again, an hour and 11 minutes, all about how to minimize your chances of tearing and kind of what's behind it and some stats and more. But anyhow, hands and knees is one of the evidence based positions that has been shown to result in less tearing. And it's great for pelvic tilting. I'll show you why although my little pelvis might be hard for you to see. It's good for your back pain because again, it's taking that pressure off of your lower back and it can help the baby to turn around. So if the baby's not an optimal position, being on your hands and knees is really great. Okay, so
why his hands and knees position so good for your pelvis and for birth? A quick little thing I want to show you. So again, here's my pelvis, and so here's the front, here's the back where the spine is, right? So if I'm laying down flat on a hospital bed, it's hard to see, okay, let me show you this way. See that bone right here? So there's this bone, this is at the back of your pelvis at the bottom, and it points forward. So when I turn you on your back, that bone, see if you can see it. This way is pointing up. So when you're laying flat on your back like this, the baby, when he comes out and has to go out and go up against gravity to come out of your pelvis, do you hope it's easy for you to see this? So if you flip yourself over, now this bone is pointing down. And so now when the baby comes out, he goes, you know, gravity's helping him, right? Because he's not fighting gravity and he could more easily maneuver past that bone, a little bone in the back, bottom part of your spine. So just a little demo to kind of give you a visual to see what that looks like, why it's so good for your pelvis, right, and for baby to come out that way and for helping the baby to turn because he's not banging into that bone.
Another position that's really good and helpful to alleviate some pain and give you some rest and help you with managing the contractions is side lying. This is another position I talk about in that vaginal tearing class that I highly, highly, highly recommend you go watch, um, but laying on your side is a great position to labor in. Also, you can push in a side lying position, so if you have had an epidural or if you're just tired, this is a great resting position and it's one you can do from bed. So laying on your side and if you are going to do that, ask for the peanut ball and they can bring you the most hospitals have them, they can bring you the peanut yoga ball, pop it right there in between your legs and it'll keep your pelvis opening instead of just kind of laying there. It'll keep things opening and then you'll want to switch sides every 30 minutes or so. Have somebody there with you that's helping you flip sides. A side lying position is really good for lowering your blood pressure. Again, if you've had an epidural, this is a great position to be in. Probably the best and it will allow your sacred to shift and create an opener. I'm sorry, a wider opening for the baby to come out, which is why it's helpful at minimizing your chances of tearing your vagina.
And if you haven't noticed, I'm kind of big on saving your perineum, which is what usually tears if you have a vaginal birth, it's the perineum that usually tears. And so I've studied it at great length because I tend to have a grow very healthy large babies. And so I'm really passionate about teaching moms that there are so many things you can do to minimize your chance of tearing. So I kind of don't shut up about it.
Tips. I want to talk about tips I want you to walk away with, for your birth partner, whoever's there with you. So jot these down or when the replay is available, watch it again with your birth partner if you have time.
So in early labor, even an active labor, whoever's there with you, you want them to help you maintain this calm, relaxing environment that you have kind of established. So whatever it is that you've chosen, maybe you have it all written out in your birth plan. These are the things that I want, um, and this is the environment that I want to birth in. Make sure that whoever's there with you is on board, make sure that they know what you want and they have a copy of your birth plan and that they can make sure to maintain that environment for you because if you haven't yet had any drugs or if you're not planning to get any, when those hormones are pumping the oxytocin and endorphins, you can feel a little amped up.
Right? Like their natural pain management hormones. But they mean for me, I felt a little dopey. I felt like I had a few glasses of wine when the endorphins kicked in. So for me to try to explain to everybody what I wanted in the moment was very difficult. So if these people who are supporting you, your husband, the nurses, whoever's there, um, if they can, if they know your wishes on your birth plan a, then they can help you to kind of continue that environment for you so you don't have to keep asking for it because you're going to want to go inward and focus on what you're doing and focus on what your body is doing to bring this baby out right.
Your birth partner should be encouraging you to go to the bathroom and urinate every hour. Very, very important that you're urinating every hour.
Make sure that you're hydrated. So drinking water, coconut water is great for hydration during Labor. Honey sticks is another really nice thing to have for energy, for hydration. So if you can grab some honey sticks from the health food store, really nice to have a lot of doulas carry them in their bags.
Your birth partner should offer you something to eat. So if you're already at the hospital, this might be a little bit challenging, but if you're at home, I would recommend eating something and whoever's there with you, make sure that they know, maybe you have like a little checklist of things that you want to make sure that they're doing. Think easy to digest food, so yogurts or fruit, something that's easy for your body to break down or whatever sounds good in the moment to be honest.
And then you want them to provide comfort and try these different things for you until it's not helpful. So what that means is take it contraction by contraction. So if something is working for a contraction, keep doing it until it doesn't work anymore. And then you might want something different and try something else. So at least now you'll have kind of a toolbox and a toolkit of all of these things that you can try.
The car ride is something that I want to mention because if you don't have a Doula then it's probably going to be your partner driving you to the hospital or to your birth center, or wherever you're giving birth. So if you can have an extra person in the car with you, it would be ideal because it can be very uncomfortable in the car and it's harder to do these natural pain management things like you can't sit in the shower when you're in the car, right? I mean all those things, it's really challenging and when you're in a seatbelt it can be challenging to get into position. Bumps in the road can be really uncomfortable. So if there's somebody actually who can ride with you, I think it'd be really helpful or bring some pillows to try to help you relax, um, and hydrate and make sure you're staying hydrated. So bring water with you, bring whatever it is you can. Coconut water, bring your honey sticks, um, bring those things with you so that you have them in the car.
Alright, so a few tips for what your birth partner can do for you during pushing, so transition. Transition is that stage is the pushing stage really, so you're transitioning from active labor to pushing, so you'll notice that your contractions change and the way you're feeling will change from early and active Labor to pushing and so I talk a lot about that too. I have a free series that if you haven't already seen it, if you're new to me, I would also recommend going and watching it. It's on my website too. It's a three day series called birth basics and it is basically a labor crash course, so it comes out to about three hours total. Each day is about an hour and so I go all through early labor, active labor and pushing and so about an hour each. It's a crash course to teach you a little bit about labor pain management options, things like that. So if you haven't already watched it, I recommend going and checking it out because I'll go into a lot more detail there about kind of the logistics of an options that are available to you during Labor.
I want to talk about tips for what your birth partner can do during that phase to support you if you haven't yet had pain management meds or if you're not going to get them. So again, we want them to help us maintain our coping practice. So using your intuition, whatever is feeling good to you in the moment. Breathing, dancing, moving, lunging, squatting, sitting on the toilet, whatever's feeling good. They want to just help you to maintain that and follow your cues and follow your lead. So if you're not wanting to be touched, you'll probably say it. If you don't want talking, you'll probably say it. And this is not a time to hold back and to not tell people what you want. This is a time for you to be very clear about what's feeling good, what you're enjoying or what you're not enjoying in the moment. So feel free to do that and whoever is there supporting you hopefully understands that it will be helpful for them and you should look at it this way too. It's actually more helpful for them.
So from my perspective, I would prefer for a mom to tell me what's working and what's not so that I don't keep doing something she doesn't like and flipping it around from the mom's perspective because now I'm also a mom. I'm going to be very clear with what's working with me at the moment. It'll help my experience. Right. So your birth partner may also put some warm towels and your abdomen during pushing. Some moms find it very soothing. It can also, a lot of moms feel really hot during pushing because of the hormones because of the changes that are happening to your body. And sometimes you'll also feel like nauseous and things like that. And it's very common, very normal, but nice cold, wet wash cloths on your forehead or on your neck and chest can feel really nice. Also, bringing you a cup of ice chips to kind of suck on or chew on with some ice water. Hopefully a bendable straw, no plastic, right, but a straw that you can kind of easily get to if you're laying down, you don't have to sit out to try to get to it.
And then letting you rest during contractions is ideal. So you're going to need the rest and take the break and lay down and just kind of, you know, allow yourself some rest.
Back labor can be very uncomfortable for a lot of moms. There are a lot of things that can cause back labor. One of them might be if the baby is in a sunny side up position. So if he's got his back to your back, his spine is hitting up against your spine. So if they're like back to back like that, it can be very uncomfortable on your back.
And so if you're having back labor, a few things that really can be helpful is that counterpressure that we talked about before, is that firm steady pressure on your lower back.
Seated knee press. I don't have a picture of it, but you can google it if it's something you're interested in. But I didn't have copyrights to the images that I found so I couldn't include them in the, in the class. But it's basically you sit in a chair, mom will be sitting in a chair with her knees at a 90 degree angle, so just sitting straight up with a nice straight down. And your birth partner, would sit in front of you. So they will be on the floor facing you and they will actually take two hands and push into your knees. And that alleviates a lot of back pain.
And then the double hip squeeze that we talked about earlier where they're really pushing in on both hips can be really helpful for back pain.
Rolling pressure. So this is helpful. Also, if your birth partners hands get tired, I have some tools that I'm going to show you. Anything that's kind of rolling and providing a massage with that rolling pressure can be really nice for back labor. It can be as simple as a tennis ball. So if you have an extra tennis ball around the house, toss it in your hospital bag and in the moment you might find it really soothing to have just that extra rolling pressure. You can get fancy and there are other tools you can use too. A lot of doulas will travel with a bag full of tools and things that they can use during birth, but you certainly don't have to.
Massage tools for birth. Here we go, birth ball. We talked about that to make sure you're using the right size. There's a ton of things you can do with the birth ball. If, again, if you don't already have one, just get one now because you're pregnant and you need this. It's just so good to use during pregnancy. I have a lot of ideas in my labor prep class that's actually going to be coming out next is how to prepare yourself for labor. So birth ball is a big one in that class.
The peanut yoga ball we talked about really good for when you're side lying.
Massage tools. So I'll share a link later with where to buy them. This little blue one here in this image is just a really nice, simple, like seven or $8 massage tool that somebody, whoever's giving you a massage can use and it can be really nice and relaxing.
A hairbrush. So simple. And you probably going to have a hairbrush in your hospital bag anyways, but some moms really love having their hair brushed during birth. So if you're somebody that likes your hair, played with you, find it relaxing. You might really enjoy having your hairbrush during labor. It can just help me really, you know, help you relax. A heating pad. Um, my one word of caution about heating pad is if you've had an epidural, I wouldn't use the heating pad for a long amount of time because you might not feel it if it's in the numb areas. So heating pad and epidural, just be cautious of how long it's on and where you're putting in. But if you haven't had an epidural or you're not going to, that heats, you know, can be very soothing, especially on your back.
The rebozo that we talked about, I'll share a link on where you can get one too, if you're interested in having one. And then the wooden spoon that I mentioned for use with the Rebozo, you can throw it in a bag from your kitchen.
Okay. So I have a couple of, um, kind of additional tips for your birth partner. The biggest thing I think is to encourage you to just continue listening to your body and your instincts because your body knows what to do and if you're feeling like you need to be doing something, a particular movement, try to follow that instinct. And so whoever is there with you have them continue to encourage you to listen, to listen to those instincts, right? Um, you want whoever's there with you to help you and communicate with your provider. So if you have a birth plan, that's ideal because then nobody really has to communicate a whole lot in terms of what your wishes are because it's in the birth plan and at least then you don't have to do a whole lot of communicating with the doctor hopefully that your partner can.
And if unexpected things come up, I'm at the back of my birth plan template. I have a whole unexpected section of extra things to consider. Um, if unexpected events occur. But you know, make sure that whoever's with you knows what your general preferences are and that they can help you to communicate with them doctor, because if you're feeling all of these hormones, it might be a little challenging to hold those conversations, right? And then your birth partner, you want them to ultimately use their eyes and ears and you know, kind of respond and work with you that way. So you want them to watch you and listen to you and kind of see what you're naturally doing and continue to kind of, you know, help you and support you based on what's looking like it's working for you in the moment. So that's the end of the class curriculum for right now.