Click on the button under the photo and view the rates for your hospital. Don't forget to ask your care provider directly about their group's cesarean rate, as it will differ from your hospital's average rate. (As I say in class, it's not your hospital deciding and performing the cesarean birth, it is the care provider and their colleagues you have been seeing/working with in your prenatal visits.) This will not only enhance your birth experience, but will also encourage you to be an informed-decision maker for yourself and your family's optimal health outcomes.
Let's dive into each piece and how to apply this in your support when you arrive to labor day.
The birthing mother needs privacy, respect, and continuous support to best cope with her labor and maintain the balance of hormones to progress labor. Maintaining this balance will keep her labor effective and her discomfort manageable. The environment surrounding you during labor influences these hormones, as well as your mind’s ability to enter into the deep relaxation.
So in reflecting on your ideal environment/birthing space:
The birthing mother is encouraged to stay well-hydrated for the duration of her labor as evidence supports those who took in more fluids had shorter labors by about 30 minutes, in comparison to those with mild dehydration could contribute to slightly longer labors. With so much fluid flowing through the the birthing mother means urinating every 45 minutes to an hour can help decrease the size of her bladder to make more room in the pelvis for the descending baby.
The birthing mother is encouraged to move into 2-3 positions within an hour. Even changing how the birthing mother moves is included in the number of positions changes, because it causes their pelvis to be more dynamic to invite baby to descend. So, while they are on the birth ball hula-hoop the hips into a clockwise direction through 20-30 min of contractions, and then counter the hula-hoop movement for another 20-30min.
The big position changes and small movements all help the birthing mother find her rhythm and ritual to achieve effective relaxation to continue to work with her labor process.
Remind the birthing mother often how amazing she is, how powerful and strong she is. Partners, repeat your love for her. Tell her you are so proud of the hard work she is doing and thank her for taking this on for your family. Remind her she has everything she needs right there, right now and that she is safe and you will stay by her side.
Out of Bed/Open Pelvis:
Research suggests laboring and giving birth in an upright position can have several benefits: gravity can help bring baby down & out, less risk of compressing the mother's aorta so better oxygen supply to the baby, it will help the uterus contract more strongly and efficiently, AND helps the baby get in a better position to pass through the pelvis.
So even if continuous monitoring is needed for medical reasons, the birthing mother can still be upright by asking for wireless monitors or if needed to stay in one area she can consider sitting on the birth ball with more freedom to move.
If choosing or needing to spend time in bed, use a peanut ball to place between the birther’s knees to keep the pelvis open to encourage baby’s descent.
Rest between/Relax during contractions:
In between contractions, the birthing mother and her partner should rest to reserve energy. Evidence supports in a 12-hour labor, only 2 of those hours are actually spent contracting, while the remaining time is the body resting. If the body is resting, the birthing mother along with her partner should rest too. Think pillows, soft places to lie into, blankets, quiet room, cushioned knees, leaning over a birth ball, leaning into partner, etc.
Relaxing during the contractions by taking a deep cleansing breath and soften the jaw, mouth and then your pelvic floor to communicate directly to the cervix and vagina to open, allowing a more effective descent for baby. This is the basics of the Spincter Law.
Touch & Massage:
Using the power of touch and massage to reduce stress and anxiety during labor helps heighten the production of oxytocin and thus more endorphins to aid the birthing mother in a more comfortable labor experience.
Touch during and in between contractions in early labor promotes rest as the body learns how to labor during this phase. As the birther progresses in her labor journey, she tends to prefer massage as a form of full relaxation in between contractions. She may ask for counterpressure and/or massage on her lower back, bottom, hips, and/or thighs during contractions. Follow her lead and if she says no to touch, respect her boundaries and let her know you are willing to touch/massage again if her needs change. Using heat along with your touch can also be comforting.
So happy to see an IBCLC write an informative post explaining why a product like Momsense can actually mask other issues in breastfeeding, and even possible interfere with the helpful assistance from a local IBCLC, CLC or Peer Lactation Counselors (like myself!).
Before registering this item on your baby list or purchasing this product, read this post from Rachel O'Brien IBCLC.
Baby, it's cold outside! Keep those babies warm and cozy plus safe in their car seats. This is my favorite visual on how to keep your younger and older babies layered up and cozy while traveling around the cities with you.
For more information, check out The Car Seat Lady: http://thecarseatlady.com/warmandsafe/
We are so honored and excited to announce our third baby and son joined our family this morning at 6:57a, weighing in smaller than his brothers at 8lb 5oz. Everyone is healthy and enjoying lots of snuggles!
Big thanks to my awesome birth team at Methodist, doula Amy Heilman and Jen with Jennifer Liv photography. Oh, and of course my wonderful hubby Russ!
I will be taking the rest of 2016 off from on-call birth doula work to focus on our young family. And coming this fall I would love to hear from you if you are seeking support through your pregnancy, labor/birth and postpartum.
But now it’s been 5 days after baby’s birth, and dread is starting to settle in.
‘I haven’t pooped yet.’
You start to wonder if you ever will be able to push anything else out of your body again. ‘I mean, I’ve pushed a small ham out of my body, how hard can it be to push out a BM?!’ Pretty hard…pun intended.
Doesn’t matter if you’ve been a good patient taking your stool softeners like tictacs or not, the first postpartum poo can be a scary thing and nobody talks about it!
So let’s talk about it.
First and foremost, we need to discuss the fear factor. You’re probably worried about splitting your stitches (don’t worry, you won’t), hemorrhoids, experiencing intense pain (again…so soon…do I get a prize again, like sleep this time around?) or simply being embarrassed. But the sooner you get the deed done, at least once, all the fears will begin to dissipate.
So save yourself and follow these 6 tips for handling the first postpartum poo:
1. Get medicated: As you count your precious baby’s finger and toes, flag down your nurse for some ex-lax, tucks pads/witch hazel pads, cooling creams, stool softners, and mild laxatives. Then flag your partner for some wine…lots of it.
2. Move around: Go on short, easy walks around the block. DO NOT push yourself to walk the routine 1, 2, 3, etc miles you use to walk or run prior to birth. Your lochia (postpartum bleeding) will tell you if you’re pushing yourself too much. So an easy walk around the block once or twice can do wonders in getting things to move around and out. Even some gentle yoga can help.
3. Find a pooping buddy: So I’m not talking about someone sitting with you in the bathroom (unless you want that, then go for it!), but I’m talking about someone to care for the baby so you can concentrate on the deed and not have to worry about being interrupted because baby started to fuss. (postpartum doulas are great pooping buddies!)
4. Put down the French fries: Avoid fatty foods and low-fiber foods. Fibrous foods will be your friend during this time, such as beans, whole grains, bran cereals, fresh fruits and veggies are helpful in adding fiber to your diet. And wine….pretty sure wine has fiber….
5. Apply counter pressure: By applying counter pressure on your perineum with a cool tucks pad or frozen pad can make it so much easier to go without worrying about anything ripping. (Additional tip: Soak a sanitary napkin in water and then place in freezer. Take out when you’re ready to go poo.)
6. Seek out your healthcare provider if it doesn’t get better: After your first time pooing, you may encounter more issues with being able to go or find any regularity. That will get uncomfortable quickly (inside and as it makes its way out!). So put on your big girl pants and talk to your provider about what’s going on, especially if it hurts to go for more than a week or so. You may need a prescription to poo in a peaceful manner. No shame! Many mamas have been there….they just don’t talk about it with their friends or strangers (surprising, I know!).
Now that you have these tips in your back pocket to pull out after baby is out, I should probably also mention that no matter what it will still be uncomfortable. The whole situation in general is comfortable. So be kind to yourself, be gentle, be safe and avoid anything that is going to put stress on your body (like excessive visitors).
All these tips above should help things go smoother with less uncomfortableness overall. And if you want to feel better about yourself pooing, just pick up the great children’s book “Everyone Poops”.
Eat. Sleep. Poop.
That is the life of a newborn baby....and a postpartum mom.
A postpartum mom often finds herself starting the day feeding her baby, and may grab a piece of bread and eat it plain...cause it's at least food. She may have enough brain power from the the 3-5 hours of sleep the night before to grab an apple, but probably just go for the cup of coffee.
She'll sit in her nursing chair, nursing her baby most of the day. And then, it starts. The grumblings of her empty stomach, as it is now 2pm...way past lunch.
"What can I make? I have no food!"
Here is where I come in - A Super Easy Tasty Lunch! You don't need to have much in your fridge to create this lunch, just a can of beans and some dried pasta. Plus, you can add fresh or frozen veggies to this dish depending on what you have (or don't have) in the fridge or freezer.
So what are we making? It's a Creamy Pasta with Cannellini Bean Sauce. Most have some kind of dried pasta in our pantries, use whatever type (regular or whole wheat) and shape (penne, macaroni, spaghetti, etc.). In the photos I used my kid's Travel Shaped pastas (as in pasta shaped like planes, cars, boats....you get the idea). Canned Cannellini beans or some type of white beans will work great in this recipe. Plus you'll need either your food processor or I use my single-serve smoothie maker...and just clean out well before making your fruit smoothie. :)
1 can (15oz) Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4oz creamy goat cheese or cream cheese or sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
8 oz. desired pasta
About 1 cup (more or less) of available vegetables, i.e. tomatoes, spinach, peas, broccoli, etc. (if using frozen, heat up before adding to pasta)
Combine the beans, goat cheese/cream cheese/sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese (if including) in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Cook your pasta until al dente. Drain the water from the pot and toss the sauce with the pasta. Add in extra vegetables if desired.
Serve hot or cold the following day. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
I sit in my sofa chair all day watching Jersey Shore - No Judging!
I nurse my three week old son as I sit, or just hold him in my arms as he falls asleep between feedings. I feel his little head sweating in the nook of my arm, and I move him from one arm to the other with the smoothest of movements that it would make James Bond jealous of how sly I was. I wipe down the sweat on my arm his little head left on me.
My husband walks through the door; I'm relieved to see him. He walks toward me to kiss my head and I lean away.
I'm not angry with him, quite the opposite. I'm excited for him to take the baby so I can finally make a sandwich and go pee.
As he takes the baby from my arms, he tries to kiss me again. I turn my head and start walking down the hallway.
What the hell is wrong with me?! I love him, I know I love him...well, at least I think I do. I'm so tired and I don't know if I feel anything else. He says nothing, he doesn't try again. We go about our day.
space and to be left alone; the thought of family and friends hugging me made my stomach queasy.
Eventually I was better. It took some time. I even went to my husband for a hug, and a smooch.
But it's okay to be touched out. As new moms, we experience a whole new set of feelings and if touch is one that is too much, it's okay to take a break. Maybe be better than me and just tell your partner "I'm touched out, but I love you." It will help name the emotion/action, and help your partner through the transition as well.
Remind yourself that early labor contractions are your body working very hard, building up to stronger, longer contractions. So this is very little reason to feel disappointed!
So here are my top 5 tips to cope with early labor:
Tip #1: Avoid Telling Family and Friends! -- You are probably already sick of people asking you if the baby has arrived yet (uh, yeah, we would've told you!), so you can imagine how frustrating things could get if you tell them you are in early labor. Because it’s going to take some time before the baby is actually ready to be born, telling others that you are in labor only serves to heighten the anticipation and pressure.
Tip #2: Rest, Rest, Rest! -- This is the number one tip I mention over and over in all my classes, REST. Labor takes a lot of energy and you need to reserve it for when labor intensifies. Rest does not mean sleep; if you can sleep that is great, but some moms feel anxious and cannot fall asleep so instead lay down and watch a favorite movie/show or read a book/magazine. Your partners biggest, and hardest, job will be to tell you to go rest. Depleting what energy you have now can lead you to feeling exhausted too early. Wait on a bath until active or transitional labor; the weightlessness works against gravity and can result in slower or stalled labor. If you do want to use water for pain relief, soak under the shower instead.
Tip #3: Keep Yourself Distracted - Start a Simple Project or Finish Packing Your Labor Bag -- Plan some things now with your partner to keep you distracted, especially in the form of some simple projects you have been meaning to do. Bake a treat for your nurses or yourself when you return home, gets your nails done, go get a massage, write in your journal, scrapbooking, knitting, file away photos or recipes, rearrange things you have been meaning to in a while. This way time will pass a little faster and you will have achieved something at a time when you might feel like you are not achieving much at all (even though your body is doing a lot of work)! Plus this one is silly to mention, but double check your labor bag for any last minute items and throw it in the car. Just another thing to keep you distracted.
Tip #4: Eat and Drink Lightly -- Keep up your water levels to avoid dehydration, while visiting the bathroom often to make room for baby to come down. Food wise, you want to eat foods that are going to give you lasting energy, so carbs are a great option (I'm a fan of Oatmeal). Some women might say that they don’t like to eat prior to labor, out of concern they will only throw up, but it’s very important for your energy levels and for baby to eat in early labor. Some women will throw up regardless due to hormones – I’m sure most of us would rather throw up food than bile! Yuck!
Tip #5: Don’t Feel Disappointed! -- If your labor is taking longer to establish than you hoped, don’t feel disappointed! Your body is working very hard – and if it’s any consolation, some women find that when they have longer early labors, they have a shorter active labor. The early part of your labor is not in any way a sign of what is to come. The time it takes to get to active labor does not mean that it will take that long to get to the next phase. Remember, feeling anxiety or stress can slow or stall your labor – and that’s the last thing you want to do! Enjoy this special time before your baby arrives – you have got a great big job ahead of you and you can totally rock it!
Happy Birthing, Alexia
A elderly woman is diagnosed with a late stage cancer. Once home she contacts her pastor to prepare for the funeral and how she wants it to go to properly celebrate her life. Her pastor thought she should take some time, but the woman wanted to make sure he used the right hymns, the right scripture, and said the right words. So the pastor came to her home and they went over everything for her funeral. And then she proclaimed "At the end, I want you to take the Bible and place it opened on my casket and place a fork on it." "A fork?" the past asked. "Yes. At the end of all our dinners, what is the one thing every one tells you? 'Keep your fork as the best is yet to come...dessert!' So by placing a fork on top of my casket we will reminding all that THE BEST IS YET TO COME."
This was the story that was shared at church this past Sunday as our pastor then mentioned the concept of living in the Now and for the Not Yet. As he went on about it in the sense of living for God, I couldn't help but think about all the mamas and couples that come to all my preparing for childbirth classes.
Those mamas and couples take the class to prepare for birth and what to expect in birth. The NOW.
What about mom's postpartum care? The NOT YET.
Granted, I do cover some postpartum recovery and touch a bit about what will be going on with baby in the hour or two after birth. For more information about newborn care, I refer to the Breastfeeding/Newborn Care Combo class my workplace offers.
But how many mamas and couples just prepare for the birth and forget that there is a baby at the end to take care of; and they especially forget about the new mother that just went through a huge life event that needs to recover, physically and mentally as well as somehow get rest while to care for a baby.
So how can we as mamas and support people prepare for the Now AND Not Yet?
Make lists of the following (I LOVE lists!!):
As expectant mommas, we tend to concentrate on this big event called birth. And it is big and we should prepare for it. But we should also prepare for postpartum. That lasts a WHOLE YEAR after baby's birth.
The best is yet to come in many ways....and for you it means that your baby will be in your arms soon. So do not forget to live not only for the now, but for the not yet too.
Alexia the Doula
Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator & Postpartum Doula serving Minneapolis, St Paul and the greater Twin Cities area.