I’m getting asked a lot how I’m feeling about labor this second time around. My first birth with Carter wasn’t great and so naturally a lot of friends are interested in my mentality going into this second one. If I can sum up my feelings surrounding this next birth it’s, “Do what I can to help birth go easier and let go of the rest”. Because I’ve done so much emotional healing work dare I say I’m even excited? I feel in my heart this labor will go easier but I’m very cautious about putting any expectations on this birth at all.
My last birth taught me a lot, one main takeaway being that, “birth is unpredictable at best”. I still think birth is amazing and magical. I simply have a more realistic outlook this time. You can do all the things to ensure it goes smoothly and still have it take some wild twists and turns. My recommendations below outline some things that can certainly help set you up for a smoother birth but nothing will guarantee a certain outcome. If there is one takeaway I want for you from this it is to be open-minded!
One other huge lesson learned is that there is no right or wrong way to give birth. You aren’t a failure if your birth goes awry and you aren’t better than others if your birth went perfectly to plan. Last time I was fully prepared for a drug free birth. Carter and I both ended up with almost every intervention possible. I don’t have enough fingers to count how many things went opposite of what I had hoped for. I felt like a major failure once I opted for an epidural, like I had betrayed the natural birthing community and my hypnobirthing class. We put so much pressure on ourselves when really it’s most important we listen to our gut during labor.
Do I still believe the less interventions the better? I do. But sometimes they are necessary and thank God for modern medicine. And of course there are proven benefits to certain ways of birthing. BUT, if you need certain interventions, that is okay. You will be okay. You are still a complete and total mother effin rockstar for birthing a human!!!
Anyway, here is what I’ve been doing to prepare for this time around:
One of the most important things is understanding the process of labor in general and all the things that can happen during it. Educate yourself on the risks and benefits of every intervention so you are prepared in any scenario. Even if you are set on a specific birth, explore all options. Yes, even if you think you are having a c-section. Make sure your partner is just as educated as you. They, more than you, will be the coherent one during labor and they need to understand what your wishes are. This time around I mostly listened to podcasts to help remind myself of all the options. There are tons of books and even online programs now but I haven’t read or done anything of them so I don’t want to recommend them!
A few resources I love are the following:
Podcasts: Birthful, Evidence Based Birth, Healthy Births & Happy Babies, Birth Kweens, Fertile Minds Radio
Books: Mama Naturals Weekly Guide.
Documentaries: The Business of Being Born
Classes: Hypnobirthing, take birth classes and as many of them as possible!
This time around I have a birth plan but I have very little attachment to it. While I have birth preferences, I am open to whatever path my birth takes. There are some easy things that you can completely control in your birth plan and some you simply can’t. As you make a birth plan, do it with an open mind. Realize you are choosing best case scenario and that it’s okay if your wish list isn’t completely fulfilled when all is said and done. I used the Mama Natural Birth Plan template. I’ll do a separate post sharing what ideally I’d choose for a birth with specific emphasis on treatment/procedures for baby post birth.
One of my favorite finds this pregnancy is this birth principles workbook by doula Jessie Harold. This workbook is incredible and I suggest everyone do it. This is what I’ve really focused on for this birth. Not the step by step what I want to happen in birth but really getting clear on how I want to feel and how I want to be supported emotionally and physically during birth. It’s great to share with your partner and doula too.
Birth affirmations are wonderful to listen to regularly to get your mind thinking positively and helping your visualize your birth. Most of us have to undo the way we picture birth aka the way we have seen it on TV our entire lives. Birth doesn’t have to be a woman screaming like a lunatic. I read somewhere that in many cultures women don’t even know that fear should be associated with birth because it’s such a natural part of who we are. How beautiful is that?
Gabby Bernstein’s birth affirmations are my favorite and they are free on her website. I wrote down the specific ones that speak to me. Here are a few examples:
I look forward to giving birth.
My body is designed to do this.
I trust my instincts.
I feel spiritual guidance all around me.
I am fearless and excited.
My body is strong and so is my baby.
For me, this was a must after my first birth. I went back to therapy once I was pregnant again and worked with the same psychologist who specializes in labor trauma. Once I felt good about everything and ended my therapy sessions I continued to meditate, journal and pray about my labor.
If this is your first birth and you are feeling any extreme emotion surrounding it, it may be a good idea for you to work out your feelings as well beforehand. Especially for us Type A gals who want to be in control at all times, labor is a real test of faith. You don’t want to bring any counterproductive emotions into the birthing space.
I was incredibly grateful for our doula last time and it was a no brainer to have her assist us with our birth again. Especially considering the roller coaster our birth took, she was an incredible emotional support provider to Greg.
It’s really helpful to have a birth expert there to help you throughout labor. We always aren’t thinking clearly as we go through the stages so to have someone there to assist you and suggest techniques to help move it along is priceless.
Especially if you are going after a natural birth, I highly recommend looking into getting a doula.
P.S. I interviewed her and will post that soon
From a physical standpoint I am doing what I can to support my body and baby’s positioning to optimize his journey earth-side. This is what this has looked like for me this time:
Acupuncture. I started going during my first trimester. I stopped my second trimester because I didn’t feel like I needed it (and frankly because I have to get a sitter every time). I went back starting in my third trimester every other week. Once I hit 36 weeks I go once a week. Acupuncture is great for supporting a healthy pregnancy, lowering stress, and addressing aches and pains. If you go regularly, you can use it to help naturally induce baby once the time comes.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy. I can’t recommend enough going to a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist at the very least once before you are going to give birth to get checked out. There are a lot of physiological adjustments they can make to your pelvis and hip and vaginal muscles to work out any tightness. If possible, it is a good idea to go earlier on in case you do have vaginal weakness that needs to be addressed. Weak muscles will make for a harder labor.
At 36 weeks my PT did sacrum, fascia and pelvis mobilizations to align and open up the pelvis to allow baby to move down and get into position. Also, very important to see a Pelvic Floor PT post partum, even if you have a C-section. The lack of emphasis on how important this is to our health is mind blowing to me!
Spinning Babies. Spinning Babies are exercises designed to help your baby get into the ideal position for birth. It opens the pelvis to make room for baby to move head down. I do a simple inversion that takes me 30 seconds a day. I don’t do it everyday. Baby was transverse and then he moved head down, maybe from doing these exercises!
Exercise. Exercising throughout pregnancy has been important to me. I enjoy working out and feeling strong. Plus, there are endless benefits for baby and Momma! Of course, listening to your body is #1 and workouts that are too strenuous are not good for either of you.
If we can keep our muscles active and strong during pregnancy it will greatly help us in labor. Due to crazy sciatic pain, I’ve have been restricted on exercise the last two months but I’m still quite active chasing our toddler around. I still am taking walks and doing exercises at home when I can.
I hope this is helpful for you as you prepare for your labor! If you have any questions, please leave them below!