Hey there mama! Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information (or lack of information) about birth? There’s a LOT of different opinions and practices and beliefs surrounding birth, it can be hard to sift through it all! Here are 10 things you might not know about giving birth that I personally believe will help you feel more prepared and in control in any situation you birth in.
(And hey, if these pique your interest, bring these up to your doctor/midwife at the next appointment!)
1 Epidurals are not the only form of pain relief available during labor.
Epidurals are a probably the most common form of pain relief you hear about during labor, but they are not the only option available. Other forms of pain relief include nitrous oxide, spinal blocks, and natural methods such as hypnobirthing, acupuncture and massage. These options can provide a more natural and less invasive form of pain relief. This is definitely something worth researching and discussing with your provider well before labor begins!
**Question for your provider: What other pain relief options do they use that are effective, other than an epidural?
2 Doulas are the bomb and they aren’t only used for birth.
A doula is a professional trained to provide emotional and physical support to a mama and her partner during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. A doula can help you with relaxation techniques, provide emotional and hands on support, and offer education to help you be prepared.
There are doulas that specifically help with the postpartum stage, as well. They can help you get some much needed sleep, guide you on basic newborn care, make nutritious meals to help you heal faster, and more!
**Question for your provider: Do you work with doulas often? Are there any you recommend?
3 There are many different birthing positions that can help make the whole process easier.
You don’t have to birth on your back! There are multiple birthing positions that can help make the birthing process easier, such as standing up, sitting down, or on your hands and knees. Experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you. Listen to your body!
**Question for your provider: In what positions are you willing to help me birth my baby?
4 You don’t have to give birth in the hospital.
Giving birth at home or in a birth center can provide a more relaxed and intimate setting for the birth of your baby. It allows you to have more control over the birthing process and can provide a more personalized experience. This option is safe for low-risk pregnancies and has similar (or better!) outcomes compared to hospital births.
**Question for your provider: Would they support you and work with a home birth midwife if you decided to go this route?
5 You can bring your own music or sounds to the delivery room.
Music can have a powerful impact on our emotions, and it can help create a calm and soothing environment for you during labor. You can bring your own playlist, a sound machine, or even your own voice to help you relax and focus during labor.
I personally made a few playlists based on how I thought I would feel throughout labor. I had the fun, upbeat one, the one that I like to sing along with for a distraction, and then the thunderstorm sounds for when I needed to focus.
**Question for your provider: Can I bring music to the birthing room?
6 A birth pool, bathtub, or shower can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during labor.
I have heard water called an aqua-dural many times – a water epidural. Warm water can help ease the pain and discomfort of contractions, and it also allows you to move around more easily, which can help the baby move down the birth canal. Birthing pools can also provide a sense of privacy and intimacy during labor.
**Question for your provider: Are there birth pools/bathtubs/showers at the hospital or another way I can use water to relax? It might also be worth it to ask if you can birth in the water or not!
7 You will probably poop during labor (and that’s okay!)
Shit happens! It’s a normal and natural part of the birthing process, and your nurses and doctors are used to it. Don’t let this concern hold you back, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Everybody poops!
And as a doula-photographer, and a mom, your poop doesn’t bother me, either! I promise I will do my best to NOT get photos of it though!
8 You can eat and drink during labor, if you want to.
Having a light snack can help keep your energy levels up. It’s important to listen to your body and your healthcare provider during labor, and to make sure you are well hydrated and nourished. Things like granola, yogurt, cheese, or fruit are great options to bring with you.
**Question for your provider: Under what circumstances will I not be allowed to eat or drink in labor?
9 Visualization and other relaxation techniques can help A LOT during labor.
Visualization and relaxation techniques such as hypnobirthing, yoga, and meditation can help you stay calm and focused during labor. It can also help to lower stress hormones and increase endorphins, which can make labor more manageable.
You can practice different techniques during your pregnancy so you have some tools in your wheelhouse. I have a blog post with an activity to get you thinking about how you’ll cope with labor to get you started.
**Question for your provider: Is there anything I can do now to learn how to cope with labor?
10 Cesarean sections are not the worst outcome.
C-sections are a common form of delivery and can be planned or unplanned. Your doctor and nurses will take great care of you and your baby during the procedure. It’s important to remember that a c-section is a surgical procedure and there are risks associated with it, but it can also save the lives of both mother and baby in certain situations.
Having a C-section is NOT the easy way out. You still give birth, and you are no less of a mother (or a badass) for having had one!
**Question for your provider: In what circumstances do you perform C-sections? How can I make my C-section more mom-baby friendly?
So, there you have it, mama, 10 things you might not know about birth explained, and now you do know. You’re armed with some new information that will hopefully help you feel more confident and excited about your birth experience!