What really helped you during labor?
The biggest things for me were kissing and being naked with DH, yelling as loud as I could, and lots of sacral pressure from my two very, very physically able midwives. DH took up the front, so to speak. He kept my mouth loose, kept close to my face and neck, and provided the emotional connection I needed. My midwives took up the rear! And they did a good job, too. They were sweatin' by the time I got to pushing :) In the pushing phase, they would squeeze my hips and shake me back and forth like a ragdoll, and it was glorious. Poor ladies, they did it once when I said my hips were cramping, and then I kept making them do it after every pushing contraction. Again, sweaty, hard workin' midwives :)
Is there anything you did during pregnancy that helped you prepare for your birth or postpartum?
I read a lot of positive birth stories. I think that helped tremendously...
What were things other people did for you during labor or right after the birth that you liked?
-During labor, I loved how tender my husband was with me. I loved that my midwives didn't give two hoots that he was naked. He was wearing swim trunks, and I think around 7cm I demanded he take them off. They felt so scratchy to me! And my ladies just rolled with it. If they were uncomfortable, he never knew it. I asked him about it later, and he said they seemed to not really notice, which is great. Granted, I was practically glued over him :)
-I loved that my midwives didn't get in my way. They did a heartbeat check every so often until my labor was really hard, and then they were right there to provide support. And I needed it. They were calm, they used quiet and encouraging words only. I don't remember them talking to each other at all.
-I appreciated that others reminded me to drink fluids, because if it had been up to me, I totally would have skipped them entirely and ended up dehydrated. Those reminders (or rather, a straw showing up at my lips) were a life saver.
-My midwives made a point to tell me how well I'd done... How it was a beautiful birth, how they weren't surprised that it was so lovely... How I "did good." I was a first time mama, and pretty shell shocked at what a powerful experience I'd just had. It was nice to hear from women who had seen hundreds of births that mine was "good."
-Right after I delivered my placenta, one of my midwife's apprentices made me homemade hot chocolate with lots of cinnamon. Apparently cinnamon is good for bleeding, but it was also such a treat with the real chocolate, and whole milk. It makes me all happy and nostalgic now when I have hot chocolate.
-It wasn't right after the birth, but when my midwife encapsulated my placenta for me, she also coiled my son's umbilical cord, and dried that for me too. Apparently the umbilical cord is sacred in certain cultures... It is our connection to another world. It is beautiful, all coiled and dried in a spiral. I thought it was nice of her to do.