You know, birthing has changed over the years. Years ago, it was normal for women to have babies in their homes. (I know a lot of women still do… I’m just saying the percentage is lower now than it used to be hehe!) Mothers were aided by their sisters and their mothers and their own daughters. I don’t think birth was the big “mystery” that it is these days. Most women had seen birth while growing up and weren’t afraid of it. It was a natural occurrence. I had never seen a birth before my own, so of course I had fears and uncertainty going into my own births because I had no idea what to expect. So instead of trying to get as much help as possible beforehand, I was like, “ehh we’ll just see what happens and go with it!” Well, that didn’t work out for us… at all!!! We had a healthy baby (so thankful!), but not the birth I was hoping for!
So what I learned for my second birth, is that if I wanted it to go differently than my first, then I had to make different preparations. I had to talk to people. I had to get help and get a good advocate for my health and my baby’s health, and to help support my amazing hubbie through the process! So we hired a doula this time around, and I talked to one of my good friends who teaches natural birthing class a LOT. I read books and talked to Jacob about the info, I tried to talk to as many people as I could who had had a VBAC before and what they did to be successful.
Through my months of pregnancy with my second son, I made notes from people like Julia and Lourdes, and then also added my own thoughts after I had my second birth. These are just some things that helped Jacob and I have a better experience the second time around, and I just wanted to share them with anyone who is trying to prepare for their birth!
Ok, let me just say, again… I’m no expert and this has been just information passed on to me that I have found useful, and also just some things that helped me with Jude’s unmedicated birth! I don’t want to overstep or say too much but I am open and honest about things, just because if anyone is about to have a baby, I want them to be comfortable going into their birth!
This is kind of long… apologizing in advance! (This seems to be the theme lately!)
- Push with your body rather than on command. Some people think pushing feels like an OVERWHELMING urge (kind of like a vomiting urge), some say the urge to push is present but not overwhelming, some don’t feel one. If you don’t feel an urge, you may need to change position- baby might not be hitting the pelvic floor at the right angle to trigger the urge. When you do feel an urge, push for as long as you feel it, then rest and conserve your energy. If it takes time, that’s good! It gives the skin time to stretch rather than tear. 😉
- If baby comes fast, you can lay on your side to slow baby down, get some rest, and give your skin more time to stretch.
- If baby comes slowly, use gravity during pushing. Get on knees and kneel. Hands and knees helps baby get in a good position and is gravity neutral (Yes, you can push a baby out while on hands and knees!)
- If baby seems stuck, squat! Squatting opens your pelvis by 30% more.
- You can bring oils (olive or coconut) to put on your perineum to help baby slide out and prevent tearing. Also, you can request perineal support (doc or nurse holds the skin together to prevent tearing.)
- Keep your sounds low and open (think “o” and “u” rather than a or e)
- Think of each contraction as progress, leading you closer to your baby. Think “open”, tell Yourself you want it to get more intense.
- Sleep – Sleep and rest in the beginning stages as much as you can.
- Eat – Eat good food while you are at home, once you get to the hospital they will most likely not allow you to eat anything. Eat something with protein, eggs are good!
- Drink water after every contraction – It is super important to stay hydrated during labor.
- Bathroom – go often, every hour – Emptying your bladder makes room for the baby to make its way down.
- Relaxation – relax muscles, spell open, jaw relaxed, be a ghost (make deep, low moaning sounds – the lower the better), showers – try to relax other parts of your body… relax your face, relax your shoulders… the more other muscles in your body tense up, the less productive your contractions will be as far as opening your cervix. This is something to start practicing now as you go to bed at night or rest on the couch. Start from your head and consciously go through each part of your body and focus on relaxing it until you get to your feet.
- Position change – hands and knees for back labor, squating opens your pelvis for bigger babies – make sure you do not just lie on your back – your baby has to get into position to come out! Lying on your back causes the baby to settle in looking out of your stomach instead of looking at your spine or to the side. If you get an epidural, make sure that your nurse is moving your legs or rolling you to your side, or making your bed into a throne position.
- Breathing – deep breaths, balloon – breathing is so key, deep breaths through each contraction.
- Massage – Have husband or doula massage your back, feet, hands, legs, whatever feels good that can get you to relax
- Counter pressure – palms on hip bones and squeeze while on hands and knees, or hubby against wall and I lean against his fists – Applying opposite pressure to where you are hurting can help. (I had a lot of back labor, so I would lean over the bed and Jacob would push against my back during contractions. Leaning over the bed was also a good position for baby to swing his back down to come out face down.)
- Encouraging words – you’re doing great, making progress – This is the hubby’s job! Remind you that you are doing great, you are making progress and each contraction will bring you closer to your baby. Remind her that this will only last a short time, that God made your body for this and you can birth this baby!
Wait as long as you can to get an epidural if this is what you want to do. Once you get an epidural you are very limited to how you can move, and moving is so important to get your baby in position. I loved not having an epidural with Jude’s birth because one, I was awake and conscious this time unlike Jackson’s birth, two, I could feel what I needed to do with my body to push him out later, and three, he was SUPER alert and it was so awesome how well he nursed after coming out. It really was amazing how different their levels of alertness were.
They had a bath tub at our hospital that I was able to use, and that helped me relax a ton and get through some of the harder parts of the labor.
I would also recommend that you let your water break on its own rather than your doctor breaking it for you. Again, having fluid inside of your body means that baby can move easier to get into the right position to progress labor and come out. My water broke at 9 cm (such a blessing!) and the pressure was much more intense after that happened. I also opted to tear naturally instead of getting an episiotomy. It is supposedly easier to recover from.
Also, as hard as it is, try to do things yourself to encourage labor to start rather than being induced. I know it is hard to wait, and I know sometimes it just doesn’t happen for people, but I have so many friends that have told me the regretted being induced because their body just wasn’t ready yet and the contractions were much more intense from the pitocin. A good website to help with getting baby into position to get labor started and progressing is spinningbabies.com.