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There is SO much that can go into the Labor and Delivery prep.
Some people do nothing, some people obsess over it. If you're here you're the second, looking up ways to prepare for a natural birth.
I for some reason was completely obsessed. I'm going to clue you in on a few things I did during pregnancy and a few things on my “wish list” for labor and delivery.
This advice will vary A LOT depending on what you want to do with your labor. For me, I wanted to do it as unmedicated as possible. But one thing I learned through the entire pregnancy and now in the “mom role” is expectations are the robbers of happiness!
Meaning, have things you'd like, but do not cling to them, because when things go awry you don't want to be disappointed.
This is what I did to prep for labor:
1. Books to prepare for a natural birth
1. A Mindful Pregnancy
this book was written by the creator of the meditation app HeadSpace (which I also loved to use… especially during the pandemic.). This helped me to stay calm and present during my pregnancy.
2. Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth
This book is INCREDIBLE for helping you to understand that your body and to work on eliminating fear. Basically let your body do what it needs to and get out of your own way. Because literally if you are afraid, you trigger the flight or fight response in your body telling your body “this is not a safe place/time to have my baby” this makes your cervix go NOPE but your body is going… well it's happening… and that conflict of interest creates a lot more pain. Your body is trying to squeeze something out of an opening that's not wanting to be open.
What I found interesting was there are women who have given birth IN COMAS!!… GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!
How I did this was with a Hypnobabies course!
When I told my midwife I was interested in hypnobirthing she recommended I read the hypnobirthing book and if I was interested to get the course.
3. HypnoBirthing book I read
Hypnobabies is “hypnosis” or I thought of it more as a meditation to get you through labor. It was a bit of a commitment, there is a course that walks you through tons of labor information and then there are recorded tracks you listen to practice completely relaxing. The tracks are about 30-40 min but I found them to be soo calming when I was stressed out about pregnancy in general. And honestly, I fell asleep most of the time I was practicing with them.
THEN when you go into labor there are tracks for that specifically. I started listening to my tracks on the way to the hospital (I think you're supposed to do it a bit sooner) but it worked for me. My contractions looked like me listening to the tracks and moaning a bit but I was relaxed.
My labor was fast. I had back labor and labored at home, when we arrived at the hospital at 11pm I was 6cm dilated.
I started pushing at 2 am and baby was born at 224a. My doula told me, in her experience, women who use hypnobabies have a faster labor.
Let me tell you, while I was at the hospital I swear I was in a trance until she was out. It was pretty incredible.
My Birth Story Here.
2. Spinning Babies classes
I took this class in person. You learn about a variety of techniques to help during labor to get baby out, or to “spin” the baby into position so they come out as they should. My back labor was due to the fact that the little lady had her hand UP BY HER HEAD.
I tried a few of the spinning babies techniques using the rebozo which relieves some of the pressure on your belly. I also did inversions while contracting to allow her to “float” and then reposition herself when I came back up right. This meant my knees were on the couch and my forearms on the floor, with supervision.
Make sure you talk to your midwife or doula about this, this can help if baby is breech, but you also don't want to flip baby. Also, the hospital was concerned the chord could get kinked, talk to your Doula 🙂
3. Probiotics to prepare for a natural birth
I use LoveBug and have worked with their team to learn A TON about probiotics and how important they are for pregnancy, labor, and baby. I have an entire video that talks about it all!
Code: HEYSHAYLA gives you 15% off your order!
I took these probiotics before I was pregnant, during, and now post.
Taking probiotics can decrease your chances of testing positive for your Strep B test at 36 weeks. What this means is you won't have to have antibiotics during labor. As most of us know, antibiotics strip us of all of the bacteria not just the bad stuff and in receiving them during labor your baby is also exposed.
4. SIX Dates a Day!
Here is an article explaining how eating 6 dates/day (75g) in the last month of your pregnancy can improve birth outcomes! Even though dates look like little cockroaches you can eat them straight up or in smoothies (search “date” on this page and find a few recipes) or even energy balls!
5. Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry Leaf Tea is known to be great for uterine health. So you'd think it would be great for pregnancy. In late pregnancy, maybe. Again, I'll let you look this up but in the granola world this is a common recommendation for a number of labor reasons. Some studies claim shorter 2nd phase of labor, others claim to help induce labor.
6. Perineal Stretching/Massage
to prepare for a natural birth!
Here is an article if you're interested, its essentially stretching or massaging of your lady bits to prevent tearing. I was determined to do this because I was terrified of tearing… but as I got closer I just couldn't freaking reach so I didn't end up doing this. Some people ask for help from their partner, I didn't do that either.
Another way to prevent tearing that I've been told by several people is if your OB or midwife is willing a warm compress as your crowning can help with tearing (as does laboring or delivering in the tub).
7. Workouts to prepare and repair you for a natural birth!
I honestly have no idea why I insist on calling it a “Twerkout” but thats what I call working out.
I worked out all through my 2nd and 3rd trimester.
1st trimester is about survival… AND CREATING ORGANS. I gave myself a break here.
Starting in the 3rd trimester I found out about Expecting and Empowered (HEYSHAYLA gives you $10 off) and am SO glad that I did. The program is created by 2 sisters, a nurse and a physical therapist and they give you week specific workouts to help with labor and delivery.
I especially love their postpartum guide It starts week 1 postpartum and it is ALLL rehab until week 6.
If nothing else check out their Instagram for tons of tips!
LABOR AND DELIVERY
Unmedicated? Epidural? C-section? VBAC?
I'm about to tell you what I did.
Is it the right way? For me, yes.
For you, I don't know.
But I wanted to mention some here so you can decide (or look it up) and decide for yourself 🙂
Remember when I said expectations can rob you of your happiness. Labor and delivery is a huge place for that.
1. Hypnobabies helped me to have a natural birth
Hypnobabies is a training I did through my pregnancy to helped me to be ready to accept whatever came my way to get baby here healthy. My “Birth Plan” was to have a healthy baby, healthy mama.
2. Midwife instead of OB:
If you've read Aliya's Birth Story you know that my midwife didn't make it to the labor and that I was telling the stranger (the OB) delivering my baby my requests in between yelling the f word and pushing.
First, let's talk about a midwife. When you become pregnant you'll likely choose to work with a Doctor or a Midwife.
whattoexpect.com says: “Is a midwife a doctor? No, a midwife is not a doctor. While licensed and certified midwives are highly trained, they cannot perform cesarean sections on their own. They can prescribe epidurals and labor-inducing drugs, but they are less likely to do so compared to doctors.”
I chose to work with a midwife through my pregnancy and (I thought) through my delivery because they take more of a natural approach to pregnancy and delivery.
3. How to have a natural birth in a Hospital
With covid a lot of people began looking into home births. One incredible doula I spoke to told me wherever you'll feel the most comfortable. Some people feel more comfortable in their home, others feel more comfortable in a hospital. I hate hospitals but I did feel safer in a hospital. I planned on doing my natural thang, but being inside the hospital close if me or babe needed anything.
4. A TUB is such a wonderful place for a natural birth!
I made sure the hospital we chose had a tub and asked my midwife and a few doulas for some suggestions on hospitals. I figured they'd know which hospital would support an unmedicated birth. Depending on the hospital and your midwife/OB you may or may not be able to deliver in the tub. But water therapy (shower/tub) is second to an epidural for pain!
My midwife was great, and said that food was okay, my delivery was pretty fast but I did eat some of these chia squeezers and they were PERFECT for me. A little bit of energy but super light and no spoon, Seth just squeezed it into my mouth while I was in the tub! lol
My mom went 2 weeks over with me and 10 days with my sister and was induced both times so in my head I was fully prepared to go over the due date. (She was born ON her due date!) I did not plan to talk about induction until 2 weeks after due date.
- Stripping membranes: There are a few ways they can induce labor one is stripping your membranes. For this you need to be dilated a certain amount and they use their finger to strip the membranes between your uterus and the amniotic sac. Its effectiveness is up for debate.
I was never dilated enough to have this done, but when I went in for my appointment I was worried about if I should do it or not!
- Pitocin: Another way they can induce you is with Pitocin, there are very valid reasons to be induced, so again, do what you and your doctor discuss is right for you. If I didn't have to be induced I didn't want to.
Pitocin often causes pretty intense contractions after it's given, so typically people request the epidural because of the pain, which is fair!
However, the epidural can cause the contractions to lessen… to which you may be given more pitocin to get them going again and sometimes this can cause fetal distress leading to a c-section.
I do know several people who have gotten pitocin as well as had induced labors that went well. I just wanted to avoid any intervention.
I think it's obvious at this point that I didn't want one. To be totally honest, my labor was so quick and intense at no point did I even think about it. Legit the thought didn't even enter my head (I give credit to hypnobabies).
Epidurals often help in labor when you've been laboring for hours and not progressing. Often if you get an epidural your body can relax and progress as it needs to.
From reading Ina May's book you learn how the uterus actually works and that if you have huge fear going into labor your body could enter fight or flight and the cervix won't open. Simultaneously, your body may continue to try and push the baby out, which causes extra pain. Surrender to your body and let it do its thing with no fear. I worked on fear clearing a lot.
8. Constant Baby Monitoring
I wanted the option to not have baby constantly monitored so that I could be mobile but also get into the tub if I wanted.
An episiotomy is where they will cut your perineum a bit instead of letting you tear naturally. My midwife (as well as the OBGYN who delivered) told me the only way she would give me an episiotomy was if baby was in distress, in which case I was all for it! You also heal better/faster from a natural tear than an episiotomy.
10. Fear of Tearing after an natural birth
THIS WAS MY BIGGEST FEAR. I started out thinking I would do perineal stretching and massaging but it got freaking hard to REACH! So I didn't finish that. The tub is supposed to help, slow pushing as well as a warm compress while you're delivering.
ANYWAY, I told my midwife that that was my biggest fear and she told me that many women don't even know they tear afterwards, and she was right! If they didn't tell me I tore (I had a 2nd degree and a labial tear) I wouldn't have known… She even let me know she hadn't seen a tear like this in a long time… Thanks lady. And thanks Aliya for coming out with your hand by your head lol
Related post: How to heal after tearing
11. Pitocin after delivery if necessary
After you delivery you are given pitocin to stop the bleeding. However, sometimes it's given routinely and not necessarily. The OB said I had some bleeding so she started me on it and when I stopped bleeding she stopped the pitocin giving me only a 1/4 of what is normally given.
No, I didn't eat it, but I did ask to see it! It was pretty incredible and as strange as this may sound, when they “delivered” it there was this feeling of relief.
13. YES to Delayed cord clamping
I believe this is standard practice now but if not, wait to cut the cord until it is done pulsing! 30% of babies blood enters them from the time they come out until the time the cord stops pulsing!
14. YES to the Golden Hour
I wanted all tests, all treatments, all everything to be delayed after the first hour. I wanted that reserved to skin to skin time, family bonding and breastfeeding.
15. Treatments for baby
We opted out of the eye ointment and the hep B and we did Vit K. There are very real reasons to get these for some people, talk to your doctor or midwife.
I also didn't want her to be washed, I wanted to keep the vernix to help protect against infection and baths can sometimes