Natural Birth Wanted. Should I be "practicing" something? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 07-19-2010, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am preparing for an unmediated VBAC. I have a doula and am doing natural childbirth classes with her. I have been reading, reading, reading all the natural birth books I can get my hands on, but I am not "practicing" anything. No breathing exercises, no guided imagery, no Bradley style relaxation stuff. I do already use yoga breathing in daily life to control stress, etc. so I will have that in my “tool kit” and I have listened to the hypnobirthing rainbow relaxation CD a few times. But, again, I’m not practicing or rehearsing anything for the upcoming birth. Do I really need to?
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#2 of 19 Old 07-19-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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I think it depends person to person. I find unmedicated childbirth very difficult, so I do Lamaze breathing, and yep I am practicing.

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#3 of 19 Old 07-19-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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Agreed - some people find it really difficult and others do not. (I personally thought it was hard work, but never had any doubts about my ability to cope with it). One thing you can do to practice is to hold an ice cube in your hand and practice ignoring it. I tried this a few times just for grins. When it came down to it, though, I just gamed up and it was fine.

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#4 of 19 Old 07-19-2010, 06:22 PM
 
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The best thing I can say is to practice visualization. During the heat of a contraction, it always helped me to visualize my uterus pushing the baby down, opening my cervix and baby moving down. I think if you know what is going on and the reason for the intensity, it's helps tremendously with coping and you help your body out a lot too. It gets rid of fear as well because you know what is going on, so that actually helps with the production of oxytocin and endorphines.
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#5 of 19 Old 07-19-2010, 06:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kltroy View Post
Agreed - some people find it really difficult and others do not. (I personally thought it was hard work, but never had any doubts about my ability to cope with it). One thing you can do to practice is to hold an ice cube in your hand and practice ignoring it. I tried this a few times just for grins. When it came down to it, though, I just gamed up and it was fine.
I have no idea why, kltroy but I just found a LOT of encouragement in this last statement.

Wife to a bearded dude.
Mama to DS [05/21/08] & DD [09/16/10] 43 weeks 1 day!
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#6 of 19 Old 07-19-2010, 07:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ambivalent Dreams View Post
I am not "practicing" anything. Do I really need to?
Ehm... self-defense techniques for when hospital staff tries to push interventions on you?

Seriously, I never did any breathing exercises and the like, and it was fine. Some people do find it very helpful, though.

I'm Olivia. I blog about physiological childbirth, homebirth, and unassisted homebirth!
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#7 of 19 Old 07-20-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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I didn't do anything for practice, but I watched a ton of natural childbirth videos. I think this helped to mentally prepare me. I never panicked and was very calm through out my labor with Lucy and I believe this is because I prepared mentally by watching those videos. I knew what was coming and I knew I wasn't going to split in to pieces. In all the videos I saw women at the hight of their pain thershold... soon after that the baby was born and in the mothers arms. SOOOO I really focused on that. I just reminded myself over and over again the more pain I am in the closer I am to seeing my baby girl for the first time.

It really worked for me and took away the fear of the pain... Instead I welcomed it. Maybe I'm weird, but like I said it worked for me. I was in labor for 20 hours and in pain for the last 10 hours. No interventions and no medication or IVs.

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#8 of 19 Old 07-20-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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I didn't really 'practice' either. Our Bradley teacher even gave us a hard time once.

But, I have a high pain threshold, so I never really was worried about it. DH also was never worried I'd be able to cope.

I will say though that it seems people wo do put time into practicing active relaxation (like with Hypnobabies) are more likely to describe their births as "not painful" than those who didn't. I remember once reading a lady wrote that with Bradley she just "white-knuckled it" - just grit your teeth & bear it - whereas when she subsequently did Hypnobabies, she didn't feel like she had as much pain that she needed to "bear."

HOWEVER - you do still have "homework" in that you should be doing your optimal fetal positioning exercises - cat/cow ("tilts & tucks") as well as kegels. Those things I did daily.
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#9 of 19 Old 07-20-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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I practiced relaxation techniques pretty much every night before bed, it helped me get to sleep faster too so bonus It really did help a lot to have already practiced systematically relaxing my body, so when the contractions kicked up in intensity, I fell back on the practice to keep my body relaxed. Other than that, I did do kegels regularly and I did squat some extra and anytime I needed to get something off the ground or whatever. Oh, and I made sure to keep reading positive birth stories on and off as well as reviewing the birth process to keep it fresh in my mind. And while I didn't practice visualizing how my uterus worked, knowing what was going on and knowing that the contractions were just my uterus moving the baby down helped during labor too.

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#10 of 19 Old 07-20-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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I listened to my hyponobabies CDs every night before bed, not because I thought hypnosis would take the pain away (for me, it does not) but because of the subtle suggestions that my birth would go well, that birth was natural and doable, that I should surrender to the experience, and that I should stay calm. My second labor was less than 1/3 the length of my first and I did it with no drugs, not even a shot of the whiskey I had at the ready if things went badly! I think this was due in large part to the fact that I had set the correct mental tone with the hypnobabies. I was also lucky enough to be at home for labor, which helped immensely.

I also think practicing yoga as often as possible is key...this is controversial, but I believe that being in good shape and limber enough to get into a variety of squatting positions helps labor. A lot of yoga postures (cat/cow, squatting, child's pose, etc) are great for labor, too, so having them in your pocket beforehand is helpful.
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#11 of 19 Old 07-20-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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Reading lots of books and watching videos of natural births helped me a lot.
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#12 of 19 Old 07-20-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by stella.rose View Post
I also think practicing yoga as often as possible is key...this is controversial, but I believe that being in good shape and limber enough to get into a variety of squatting positions helps labor. A lot of yoga postures (cat/cow, squatting, child's pose, etc) are great for labor, too, so having them in your pocket beforehand is helpful.

That's controversial?

Actually that's totally evidence-based advice! Dr. Clap, author of "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy" outlined how women who exercised all through pregnancy (which he defined as 3X per week or more, 20 min or more, at "moderate to high intensity") had lower rates of epidural, CS, and instrumental delivery as well as shorter labors. Of course, it could be that women who exercise are health conscious enough to have educated themselves and worked toward a NCB (so, picked midwives, hired doulas, labored in water, refused unnecessary interventions, etc.)

BUT - I think it's probably both - that the exercising women put some effort into NCB, but also the exercise alone helped them overall - to have shorter labors & cope with pain (getting in touch with endorphins, as you do while exercising) and having strength to push out their babies.

Strength & stamina overall help in birth - it doesn't have to be yoga specifically. I lifted weights (REAL weightlifting, not playing around with pink plastic dumbbells ), & taught kickboxing with bag work & step aerobics. I do teach fitness yoga to & did that as well, but I kinda feel like it is exalted as the ultimate pregnancy exercise & I just don't agree that it is so superior to all other forms of physical exertion. Don't get me wrong, not saying it's not great - IT IS GREAT! It's just not superior to every other form of exercise you could do in pregnancy. Except "Cat/Cow"- THAT is awesome! But I did that intermittently while watching TV in the evenings, not as part of a daily yoga practice. (only did yoga 1X per week.)
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#13 of 19 Old 07-27-2010, 01:58 PM
 
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This is baby number 7, and labor number 6 for me. I have enjoyed reading all the responses. I am due to have this baby in the next 5 or so weeks (due the 18th of August, but usually go late).

I found (and am finding) The Birth Book by the Sears very helpful. I just tell myself to relax and then start from the top of my head to the bottoms of my toes. Also, the suggestion to remember what your body is doing and how you can help rather than hinder the uterus etc from doing its work. I think someone called it visualization.

I have had the last two babies at home unassisted (unplanned); only my hubby was present. These techniques really helped me.

LaDonna, wife to J. Mom to K-8, C-7, H (Mar 14-26, 2004), M-5, W-3, R-1.5 and baby due in August.
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#14 of 19 Old 07-28-2010, 03:34 AM
 
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For me, I have found that learning what it feels like to be fully relaxed is very helpful. I suppose that's a Bradley technique, but it has worked well for me in 3 labors so far. I focus on breathing deeply, exhaling fully, and relaxing everything I can. I have "practiced" and know I'm doing well when I can feel myself falling more and more into the couch/bed/whatever.

With our 2nd (first HB), we had a private child birth educator come in and do a class for us (mostly for DH's sake, but I thought it was good). I did the ice cube exercise while laying down and relaxing, and I recall her being pretty impressed with how well I can relax. It is helpful even when non-pg in times of pain, stress, various sorts of abdominal cramping, etc.

FWIW, one of my close friends has had 4 births with no classes, instruction, etc., and done very well through all of them (all home waterbirths). It can definitely be done, though I do think there's value to being familiar with "letting go."

HeatherB ~ mama to 3 wonderful boys:  reading.gif 03/02; modifiedartist.gif09/04; sleepytime.gif 09/07 - and Eliana, babygirl.gif 11/13/10!  
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#15 of 19 Old 07-28-2010, 07:22 AM
 
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I did Bradley with my first and practiced the relaxation exercises, which basically did nothing for me. I found my own way in the end and everything was just fine. I've been doing Hypnobabies this time around, and while I am practicing it feels more like I am just taking time each day to relax. It's wonderful. Even if I end up finding my own way again and not using it during labor, the relaxation each day has helped me so much.

Mama to DS1 (2/08) and DS2 (9/10).
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#16 of 19 Old 07-28-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post
Ehm... self-defense techniques for when hospital staff tries to push interventions on you?
I agree with this, seriously. Practice saying "What are the risks? What are our other options? What happens if we wait?"

  reading.gif, mama to Amelie (May 2010), early loss (October 2011), and James (September 2012) vbac.gif

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#17 of 19 Old 07-28-2010, 05:25 PM
 
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I may be biased but I am a shiatsu, Asian bodywork, professional. Anything you can do to help you prepare to relax while under duress will help you cope. I work with moms who have had previous birth trauma. It is helpful to process your past experience on a mind, body. spirit basis. Asian bodywork is especially good for this. Regular massage can help too - if you have a good practitioner who has some knowledge of energy work.

If you have a doctor vs a real midwife that will also make a difference in terms of how much latitude you are given to labor. Staying home as long as possible is a big part of having the birth you want to have vs the one they want to do to you.

I also run the Chicago birth network and provide birth options consultations by phone or in person. Let me know if you need more help.
Jo Anne - BirthLink.com
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#18 of 19 Old 07-28-2010, 05:43 PM
 
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I did not practice anything and I was fine. What got me through it was a strong stubborn streak: I was committed to a natural childbirth, and by golly I was going to have one!

Next time around I might try something like hypnobirthing, or maybe I will just rely on my stubborn streak again.

Baby Boy 9/08 & Baby Girl 3/11

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#19 of 19 Old 07-28-2010, 08:40 PM
 
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I'm not sure that practicing per se is necessary...definitely mental preparation is helpful. It's kind of hard to practice for something so unknown.

Nevertheless, something I found helpful from my prenatal yoga class during my first pregnancy:

Instructor would have us choose our most hated/difficult yoga pose and make us hold it for a long time. Sometimes she would time and make us do it rhythmically to simulate fake contractions. Then we would observe how we coped with the pose when it started getting really difficult. What did we do that made it easier? What didn't help? Knowing that kind of thing before labour is very helpful. She also had us try specific coping techniques to see what worked best for each of us: visualizations, breathing, relaxing other body parts, mindful awareness etc. I found it incredibly interesting and helpful, if kind of agonizing.

Also, best tip ever was to remember that just because your uterus is contracting doesn't mean you need to tense the rest of your body. Progressively relaxing the jaw, shoulders, unclenching fists, unballing feet always made the contraction more bearable.

Good luck. It's definitely a trip and I think more mental than anything!

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