Preparing for your first labor is scary.
There is a lot of information out there. And a lot of the information is pretty repetitive.
By the time you reach the third trimester you have probably read countless labor tips about kegels, and breathing, and about water births vs squatting births, and about how imperative it is that you try different positions during labor. And even about what to pack in your hospital bag. And you are maybe even feeling a little overwhelmed by it all.
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I was fortunate enough, in my pregnancy, to stumble on a few absolute gems when it comes to labor tips. Advice that went way beyond kegels and hospital bags and water births.
Having this information took a huge weight off my shoulders, and allowed me to focus on other things (like working on this blog, so I could stay home with my baby, and not go back to work). After I read this labor advice, I actually felt prepared enough that I stopped reading.
Now, having been through labor (twice – without epidural both times), I can say these tips for giving birth are solid gold – every woman should know these things before those contractions start.
Regardless of what sort of birth you’re aiming for – epidural, just-the-morphine, or even completely natural – you need to know this stuff!
(And, since those contractions haven’t started yet, I bet you’re in the can’t sleep AT ALL stage…or about to be in that stage! You can grab a pregnancy pillow right now for 50$ off with the code mommyonpurpose50. You’ll be glad you did!)
The best labor advice I’ve ever read:
1) Keep your hands relaxed during contractions
This tip comes from Jamie @ Simple Living Mommy, one of my very best (and wisest-at-birthing) friends.
She says “keep your hands loose during your contractions and you’ll know that you aren’t tensing everywhere else”. (Believe me, when you are trying to get a baby out of your body, not being tense everywhere else is KEY.)
She also talks about how if you were in a coma and went into labor, that your body could deliver your baby for you. THAT is amazing and absolutely makes the whole process seem easier. Read the post here – it’s full of amazing labor advice.
It’s hard to really believe that this will make a difference, and it’s hard to focus when labor is going on full force… but the SECOND time I had a baby I remembered this and implemented it. I was squeezing my husband’s hand, and the nurse’s hand… and I said to myself, “relax your hands – if your hands are relaxed, your body will relax.”
I stopped squeezing, I relaxed my hands and pushed… and THAT was the push the baby came out on! (For real!)
This is one of the best things dad can remind you to do in labor! (Dad won’t REMEMBER to remind you, so print off a set of Dad’s Labor Cards and stick them in your hospital bag!)
While this was the tip I found the MOST awesome, the next 4 are pretty important too!
2) Re-think everything you’re reading about birthing positions and perineal massage
Just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do. This post really gives you some solid evidence for not squatting during pushing, and great ideas of what to do instead. I personally couldn’t want to try ANY position other than flat on my back for pushing – and having read this in advance helped me to feel less “pressured” to do things that were uncomfortable.
Lindsey’s take on perineal massage and warm compresses at birth lead me to having some really good conversations with my Doctor prior to delivery, and I believe that those conversations made a big difference in my labor experience. I had zero massage. I liked it that way.
– from How to Prevent Tearing (by Lindsey @ Mother Rising).
3) There is more to pushing than just screaming and “pushing”
(Because what does “pushing” even mean?)
Paula says “really try to relax the muscles in your pelvic floor and envision yourself blowing out a candle with some force”. She talks about how you are not actually using the same muscles as when you go to the bathroom (even tho it feels like it!). Knowing a little more about how to push before you go into labor really takes some of the stress out of the situation.
– from How to Push During Labor (by Paula @ Easy Baby Life).
4) Make deep, low sounds. High pitched sounds can make you tense, but low sounds can have the opposite effect
The post 10 Things to NEVER Say to a Woman in Labor is another gem from Lindsey @ Mother Rising.
NOT tensing your body will also help to make the ring of fire less intense!
The whole post is full of labor and delivery advice awesomeness. (It might not sound like a post full of birthing advice based on the title, but believe me, you need to read it.)
5) Make time to take a good prenatal class – without leaving your house
– and relieve any fears you have. Here’s a great Online Prenatal Class from my friend Hilary @ Pulling Curls, who just happens to be a labor and delivery nurse, so she knows what she’s talking about. I didn’t make time for a prenatal and when my water broke I had no idea what to do. Should I go to the hospital? Wait for contractions to start? Try and catch some of it for looking at, maybe? Yikes.
I have (since the birth of my baby = far too late) taken Hilary’s Prenatal Class and, surprise surprise, she does in fact TELL you what to do if your water breaks. She is straightforward and not scary – which is the whole reason I avoided the classes in the first place! Use the coupon code MOP10 to get 10% off her course, and get yourself properly prepared to do the baby having thing.
Just FYI, after you take this class you will NO LONGER BE AFRAID THAT YOU MIGHT POOP WHILE PUSHING! (Seriously.)
Labor is hard, but hold on to these labor tips for first-time moms.
This labor advice can make it just a little less hard.
(And at the VERY LEAST have a look at the mini prenatal class that you can get FOR FREE through this link – regularly 5$!)
(Ok, I know thinking ’bout labor can be scary, so allow me to take your mind off it… go ahead and use that same coupon code mommyonpurpose50, and grab yourself one of these adorable hooded bath towels FOR FREE, or to cheer you up. Seeing your itty-bitty all wrapped up in it will make labor feel worthwhile, ♥ I promise.)