Are you an expectant mom, thinking of becoming pregnant or currently in the process of trying to conceive? Whatever your individual situation, one thought may be swirling around in your mind: "Can I cope with labor?"
It's a valid question. And the answer is yes! Yes, you can!
I wanted to list a few ideas here that you may find particularly helpful as your prepare for "Labor Day."
Now it's your turn: If you have given birth before, what tips do you have? What did you find particularly helpful in labor? Comment below!
I will never forget the first words my husband said to me after my children were born. "You were so amazing. Like unbelievable. I can't believe you just did that! I'm so proud of you. I love you so much! You're a ROCK STAR!" (15 years later, those words are still meaningful to me. I mean, what wife doesn't want to be told she's amazing??)
As we gazed at our new, squishy little miracle, in awe of the fact that "we MADE that!," our love for one another was renewed as two became three, and then later four, and five.
As a doula, I absolutely love helping to facilitate the relationship between mom and partner. It's really important to me in the birth process that her partner feels included. Recently, I had a client's husband say, "I have really been preparing for this. I have taken a childbirth education series. I mean no offense, but do we really need another person in the room?" I gently replied, "I'm here for you as much as I'm here for her."
Birth is intense. As each contraction comes and mom is working hard, she needs an abundance of love and support. And she needs just the right "hormone cocktail" happening in her body to help her cervix dilate and to prepare to bring baby into the world. As she and her partner engage with each other in the labor process, her oxytocin levels rise and that works greatly in her favor. Oxytocin is a crucial hormone to the labor and birth process that is released by the pituitary gland. Its job is to help bring about contractions of the uterus during labor. The body makes it naturally, but you may have heard of its synthetic form called pitocin (which is sometimes used when it's necessary to augment labor). It's a beautiful thing as the rise in oxytocin not only helps mom birth her baby it but also helps her milk come in after baby is born. So... I work to bring mom and partner together in labor because I know that every hug, touch and connection between them is good for bringing baby closer to their arms. Also, as the pain of labor intensifies, she may begin to fear childbirth. Fear and pain are the enemy of labor progressing, and so my goal is to help keep mom out of that place and in the comfort of her partner's arms where she feels safe and loved.
I consider it a joy and privilege helping partners work together in the labor and birth of their babies, especially in the ones for whom it's their first time experiencing it. It's a powerful moment when baby is born and they know they did it together. I've been truly blessed to see some AMAZING hands-on partners who supported mom so lovingly and helped bring their babies into the world..
Remember, love is the antidote to fear.
And where love dwells, feelings of safety and well-being do as well! What could be better than that in the process of childbirth?
As always, thank you for reading!
Happi loves serving families in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago as a labor doula and childbirth educator. When she's not at a birth, she loves spending time her husband and three boys.