What really helped you during labor? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 03-10-2011, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been working as a doula for just over a year now. I'd love to expand my "bag of tricks" with ideas that have worked for other moms.

 

What really helped you during labor?

 

Is there anything you did during pregnancy that helped you prepare for your birth or postpartum?

 

If you had a hospital birth, was there anything you took with you that you were glad you had?

 

What were things other people did for you during labor or right after the birth that you liked?

 

 


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#2 of 25 Old 03-11-2011, 04:18 AM
 
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The thing that really got me through my last labour was a Dr. Ho's TEN's machine. (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation )  Now the package says not to use it for labour and after using it for hours, I still felt like someone was poking me in the back after my baby was born, LOL.  But it totally got me through and I had my first natural birth.

 

Also, I knew from experience, that walking around during labour was not for me.  I rather sit on the toilet or dance/move around my room--not walk the halls in the hospital where others could see me in pain.

 

I think just having someone there to support you decisions and pamper you (run and fetch ice or drinks) was wonderful.

 

 

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#3 of 25 Old 03-11-2011, 08:46 AM
 
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Mooing.  Long, low, LOUD noises help me immensely.  Totally the difference between totally manageable and totally agonising.

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#4 of 25 Old 03-11-2011, 10:11 PM
 
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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.


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#5 of 25 Old 03-11-2011, 10:13 PM
 
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It really helped to have someone rub my back, to have good smells around me, and to be reminded CONSTANTLY to breathe when I was having a contraction, I would forget every time and hold my breath, and that made it worse!

 

I was so glad I brought my Organic Essence Lip Balm to the hospital, it was a lifesaver.  I wish I would have brought a water filtering pitcher, the water was SO chlorinated at the hospital that I hated drinking it, and it just dried me out more!   I also wish I would have had a heating pad or sock with rice in it to microwave for during labor and after birth.

 

Bringing some organic granola bars for the laboring mom would be a nice thing, I was talked into going to the hospital too early and I was so hungry but of course was not allowed to eat.

 

Prenatal yoga, including doing squats and Kegels is a must, and I recommend every expectant mom does it.  It is SO essential to work out before and during pregnancy, and the breathing and hip opening poses and relaxation techniques help so much during labor and delivery.

 

I would also advise a mom make a birth plan ahead of time and give it to their Dr and the hospital for a hospital birth, because often times the Dr or nurses will do things without obtaining the mothers consent, such as putting antibiotic drops in babys eyes, administering mom pitocin, giving baby vitamin K shot, and Hep B shot, cutting umbilical cord immediatly instead of waiting for it to stop pulsating, not giving baby to mom to hold skin to skin and feed immediatly, etc.  Mom should specifically state in birth plan what she does and does not desire to be done, or they may just do it before anyone has the chance to stop them.  I know from personal experience.  Even if you tell 1 nurse something, chances are she will not pass it on, or will forget and just do what she is used to doing.  So having it written down and making sure everyone reads it, as well as keeping an eye out for things you know that mom wants, is very important.

 

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#6 of 25 Old 03-11-2011, 10:48 PM
 
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rocking on the birth ball, watching my favourite movies, having my husband pour water over me in the bath, touching my face/ shoulders/ upper body to distract me since my hips became to sensitive and painful for counter pressure

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#7 of 25 Old 03-12-2011, 09:46 AM
 
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I forgot to mention that I have several friends whos Drs gave them episiotomies without consent because they didnt specifically state that they didnt want one.

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#8 of 25 Old 03-13-2011, 10:14 AM
 
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During labor my best friend said "Ok, that contraction's over and you never have to do it again." Something so simple but it just clicked with me and helped me take each contraction one at a time.


Trish~mama to Kaelie 5/03 and Amelia 12/13, surro mama to Aidan 2/08 & Ellyss 6/09, 

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#9 of 25 Old 03-13-2011, 11:19 AM
 
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Writing positive birth affirmations on index cards and reciting them daily for weeks before labor was so powerful for me. Anytime I had a fear, concern, etc., I would write an affirmation about it and add it to my stack. By the time I gave birth I had about 50 cards, but I only needed 3 or 4 during my actual labor because the exercize had been so effective at helping me work through my issues. My favorite was "The power of my contractions cannot be stronger than me because I create them. They come from me."

 

Also, my doula kept rubbing my head with a cold washcloth when I was pushing...oh man...I *could not* have done it without that small bit of comfort.

 

After labor I wish someone would have stayed with me long enough for me and dh to nap a little later that day or that night.  I had a homebirth and only my midwife, her assistant, and my doula were there with us, and they left just as the birth "high" was wearing off.  I think next time I'll have a family member, friend, or even postpartum doula be there so we can rest some.  The bonding experience was great, but next time I'll balance both bonding AND rest in those first few days. 


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#10 of 25 Old 03-13-2011, 06:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lkvosu View Post
The bonding experience was great, but next time I'll balance both bonding AND rest in those first few days. 


I think that this is a tremendously valuable statement...

 


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#11 of 25 Old 03-13-2011, 09:38 PM
 
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I think staying out of my way yet being available when I needed something (like assurance I could push--I couldn't believe it was time even though my body moved on without me) was really the biggest helpful thing. Midwives and birth attendants in general really see women at their most vulnerable, and being in tune with them makes everything so much better.

 

Talking beforehand about what comfort measures might help, too. Of course, no one knows what will feel good or bad in a specific point in a specific labor, but I think some things sound good and some things can be crossed right off someone's list. Better to do this before than in labor!

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#12 of 25 Old 03-13-2011, 10:57 PM
 
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I put a simple folding hand fan in my birth box (like one of these) and it was such a stroke of brilliance!  I had a homebirth in the middle of July, and we kept the house warm so that I wouldn't get too cold in the pool and the baby wouldn't be too cold.   I kept switching between feeling hot and cold, and when I yelled out hot, someone would put a cool wash cloth on my neck and my friend would start fanning me.  I'm definitely going to make sure I have it available next time too.

 

Also, I ended up giving birth on a birthing stool, and for most of the (sort of long) pushing phase, dh was supporting me from behind, but I knew he wanted to come around front to help catch as we were getting close, but I also didn't want him to leave from behind me.  I pushed without anyone behind me for a while, but then the assistant midwife came and sat behind me and brought a cool wash cloth to put on my chest ( I think I was probably dripping sweat at this point, from the effort and the fact that it was likely 85 degrees in the room)  It felt so good to be able to relax into her (she was um, a lot cushier than dh)  and the wash cloth was really soothing.  Her doing that really helped me relax and gather my strength to finally birth my son


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#13 of 25 Old 03-14-2011, 01:04 AM
 
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My sister found that being on all fours and having my mom rub her back helped her a lot when she was in labor with my neice, Brianna.  Becky didn't like the labor tub at all.  She said that it wasn't hot enough and she couldn't get comfortable.  My neice waa born "sunny side up", so it took Becky longer to push her out. 

 

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#14 of 25 Old 03-14-2011, 01:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lkvosu View Post

Writing positive birth affirmations on index cards and reciting them daily for weeks before labor was so powerful for me. Anytime I had a fear, concern, etc., I would write an affirmation about it and add it to my stack. By the time I gave birth I had about 50 cards, but I only needed 3 or 4 during my actual labor because the exercize had been so effective at helping me work through my issues. My favorite was "The power of my contractions cannot be stronger than me because I create them. They come from me."

 

That is such a cool idea!  I think that I might do this when I have a baby.  I am constantly saying positive things to myself when I have severe menstrual cramps, like "Just relax, your uterus is working like its supposed to to empty itself out".  I think a lot more women should try this.  I know with my menstraul cramps, saying positive things and acting like its a normal part of life helps a lot with pain.

 

Jessie

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#15 of 25 Old 03-22-2011, 09:37 AM
 
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Coconut water (not to be confused with coconut milk).  Each time I took a sip, it seemed to give me a second wind.  I alternated between this and water during delivery.

 

ETA: Coconut water was also great for me postpartum, since I lost a fair amount of blood and felt a little weak for a couple days.


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#16 of 25 Old 03-24-2011, 07:36 AM
 
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Watermelon!

 

Taking a bath in a dark room and having my very calm midwife pour water over my belly -- I spent transition this way for both of my births.

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#17 of 25 Old 03-25-2011, 01:12 PM
 
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Hot wheatie bags! I had a long rectangular one divided into three sections (so the wheat wouldn't all fall down one end), and it was long enough to wrap around my lower abdomen in early labour. Later on DH would press it firmly against my lower back during contractions... and I think at one point I was kinda sitting on it with the ends pressed against my hips. It was great. My only complaint is that DH didn't reheat it often enough - it had to be scalding! I was at a hospital so we used hot plastic bags full of saline too, for some reason, but they weren't nearly as good - I kept worrying they'd burst, whereas with the wheatie bag I could knead it and squeeze it and tear at it, and it had a nice texture.


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#18 of 25 Old 03-26-2011, 02:45 PM
 
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Looking up. Seriously, it was the only thing that made my contractions not-so-horrendous. I tried the birthing ball and whatever else I'd read about, but just looking up at the ceiling was the winner for me. It must have relaxed some muscles or something, because it made a big difference every time.

 

When I was pg, a friend made me a "positive affirmations" box. It helped calm my anxity about birth ahead of time. I can't say it helped with the birth itself- maybe early labor? But it had a positive effect nonetheless. 


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#19 of 25 Old 02-09-2012, 01:41 PM
 
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My birth was fast so I was pretty much ready to push as soon as contractions started, but while waiting for the midwife to arrive I leaned forward on an exercise ball while my DH sat in front of me--I held onto his leg and pulled as contractions hit and he kept himself stable so I didn't fall back. Not sure why this helped, maybe because my mind wasn't completely on the contractions. I also originally thought the moaning was a little odd (just didn't think it was something I'd do or want to do) but it REALLY helped to deal with the pain. This was just before I got into the birthing pool. Once in there, the water helped a lot. Also, I know everyone's different in this, but I really enjoyed having my mom, midwife, and husband there. I held onto my husband through contractions and enjoyed his presence while my mom massaged my back. As much as I loved my midwife, when I said my back hurt, she thought it was further down than it really was, and massaged too low to help. Mom, however, understood what I needed and massaged around the middle of my back, which helped a little. So for some people, having a lot of help there to cater to you may be just what you need, others I know just need to be alone. I did also have calm music playing in the background: I set up two playlists on my iPod, one of calm songs, one with more fun upbeat songs, and planned on using them both but when DH asked which playlist to turn on, I only wanted calm, so I think it would also be helpful to suggest that people have a few options set up. Because of the fast birth, the music ended up being useful only to help me relax in between pushes.

 

Also, I don't know how many birthing classes do this, but we held ice in our hand while our instructor did different things--for one minute, we sat there silently. The next time, she talked through the whole thing saying stuff like, "this ice is so cold! How long have we been doing this? Oh my goodness is she ever going to stop talking and let us drop the ice?" one time was with calm music, and the last one was with her walking around talking to the other people in the area loud enough that we could hear, etc. So we were able to practice how we dealt with pain--I needed the distraction, so I was able to prepare for it.


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#20 of 25 Old 02-09-2012, 02:24 PM
 
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Darkness.  Silence.  Moving around a LOT.  Not being interfered with or talked to, having my space respected.

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#21 of 25 Old 02-09-2012, 07:56 PM
 
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What really helped you during labor?

 

Extreme counter pressure on my low back & squeezing my hips (together was spectacular).

 

Is there anything you did during pregnancy that helped you prepare for your birth or postpartum?

 

I read a lot. Dh isn't much of a reader but he would listen to stuff I thought he should know. My Mon read what I asked her to. Writing the birth plan was more important to me than giving it to anyone - the process really clarified for me/dh/my mom what was most important. I also asked lots & lots of questions of my ob. By the time the birth was happening I felt confident we were all a team & I could relax.

 

If you had a hospital birth, was there anything you took with you that you were glad you had?

 

My own pillows, an extra blanket, snacks, my own clothes, camera.

 

What were things other people did for you during labor or right after the birth that you liked?

 

I wish someone had told me when I was in transition. I felt very scared & out of control & was literally begging for help - very frantic, in large part 'cause I thought it was going to continue like that for a long time. Having someone recognize & tell me I was in transition would have really calmed me down.


Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#22 of 25 Old 02-13-2012, 07:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post

I've been working as a doula for just over a year now. I'd love to expand my "bag of tricks" with ideas that have worked for other moms.

 

What really helped you during labor?

 

Is there anything you did during pregnancy that helped you prepare for your birth or postpartum?

 

If you had a hospital birth, was there anything you took with you that you were glad you had?

 

What were things other people did for you during labor or right after the birth that you liked?

 

 

The most effective "trick" I discovered was what I would call a sacral lift. Instead of squeezing in I or DH would sort of push up on my lower back almost to where it would lift my tush a bit. It somehow helped relieve some pressure. Also swaying side to side in the shower. I showered a lot, I was definitely squeaky clean for the birth :) oh and also I listened to mellow music, as in the same few albums looped over and over and over for about 24 hours then on into the hospital room. 

 

Pregnancy preparations: well I'm not sure what prep was responsible for what but here are a few things I did and would do again: Hypnobirthing - and really the main thing I credit to that is something clicked and I went from thinking I'd maybe give the natural thing a shot to a very confident hell yes I could do this, this is what my body totally knows what to do!  Also, red raspberry leaf tea and evening primrose oil. I also think all those eggs and. It's I ate might have helped my membranes from breaking early. Who knows?

 

We didn't labor much in the hospital but I liked that we brought our iPod speaker thing so I could continue listening to music. I wish Id had my own pillow though. 

 

Things people did: the butt lifting trick was good and for pushing the doula put nice cool cloths on my forehead, and she and DH massaged my shoulders in between. In hindsight I wish I would have asked more for hands on massage type stuff in labor. I should have been more vocal. I also wished for my first post labor meal someone would have gotten me something real but instead I had a crummy grilled cheese and fries from the hospital cafeteria (although at the time it tasted like heaven!)

 

 

 

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#23 of 25 Old 02-16-2012, 01:46 PM
 
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The biggest things that helped me were educating myself on everything by reading a bunch of books and forums and practicing relaxing my whole body every night and then using that relaxation during labor. If I could keep my body relaxed, contractions were intense but fine (it very much reminded me of long distance running, a metaphor that is used quite often for labor), when I couldn't relax (mostly when I was in the car and a couple times with the nurses) it was bad. And part of relaxing was being able to freely move as I wanted to, laying on my side and squatting were both good positions for me.

I do think all the squatting, kegels and birth ball sitting I did during pregnancy helped and the RRL tea probably helped too, but relaxation and the education about birth that allowed me to be able relax is what made my drug free labor manageable.

Also, being touched while in a contraction was bad for me, luckily my DH was very understanding of that. I'm sure you've run into it yourself, but if not, don't be surprised! Dark and quiet didn't really matter to me, since when I was in the contraction zone, I didn't notice, but being touched threw me off. I did anticipate the touch thing potentially happening as that is how I usually am when in pain or motion sick, so that might be something each woman can think about.

And yeah, relaxation sounds simple, but you really need to practice it. That is the biggest thing, practicing every day (or nearly) so you can do it when it counts. Practicing it every night had the extra bonus of helping me go to sleep easier, so it's not a bad idea anyway!

Oh, and wanted to add that the one thing that really was great was the nurses asking if I wanted to use the bathroom before getting my IV (I'm not getting an IV next time without good reason) and it was good because I was so in the zone I forgot about doing that and it had me move around enough that my daughter basically keyed into the right position so that I went from ~5cm in triage to 10 cm once they finally checked me after I came out of the bathroom and got on the bed. I insisted as I was feeling a lot of pressure and had felt her shift position dramatically, I think they were mostly humoring me, but I'm glad that they did listen and only delayed to finish putting the IV in. Hopefully that experience will teach them to listen to their patients better in the future smile.gif

(Edited to fix grammar and spelling and to add one thought)

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#24 of 25 Old 02-16-2012, 02:38 PM
 
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Lots of great resources on here!!

 

Quote:

What really helped you during labor?

 

Is there anything you did during pregnancy that helped you prepare for your birth or postpartum?

 

If you had a hospital birth, was there anything you took with you that you were glad you had?

 

What were things other people did for you during labor or right after the birth that you liked?

 

 

What helped me the most was my birth ball. I pretty much walked around and during transition sat on my birth ball. I loved it!!! Also, reading a ton of inspiring stories and watching good films about birth. Oh my gosh, Birthing From Within was so fantastic for me!

 

In the hospital I wish I would have brought music. I forgot it. I also wish I would have remembered a robe or something for postpartum visits.

 

I liked when people left me alone. I was never checked for dilation progress and this really helped me.

I also liked when my doula looked at me with confidence and said 'You are doing great" compared to the fear in Dh and my mum's eyes.


 

 

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#25 of 25 Old 02-16-2012, 03:24 PM
 
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What really helped you during labor?

 

Having a focus spot. I kinda stumbled upon it and found if I stared at a specific spot on the floor I handled the contraction much better. I needed to start looking at the spot at the beginning of the contraction though! Without the focus spot I felt out of control.

 

Having dh there and squeezing my knees/thighs during contractions. No idea why that helped but it did.

 

Having the doula telling me that things were okay, it was normal, etc.

 

Going into my "zone" during contractions even at the beginning when they weren't that bad. It set the groundwork for the stronger contractions.

 

I had to be hooked up the whole time (it was an induction so constant monitoring). I mostly sat in a rocking chair and on a birth ball. Climbed into bed only to push.

 

Is there anything you did during pregnancy that helped you prepare for your birth or postpartum?

 

DH and I took a natural childbirth class and I think that helped dh the most, since he'd never seen a labor/birth before and had no clue what to expect.

 

If you had a hospital birth, was there anything you took with you that you were glad you had?

 

Gatorade, snacks (mostly for after birth, but I did snack on some dried peaches in early labor). We brought the doulas birth ball that she had let us borrow, but the hospital had one so we used theirs.

 

What were things other people did for you during labor or right after the birth that you liked?

Reminded me to sip water and then pee. But I'm pretty sure right at the end I just peed on the floor. The bathroom was sooooo far away (like 6 steps) lol.gif

 

A few things the doula told me- I could scream all I wanted and beg for an epidural when the nurse wasn't in the room, but the moment I told the nurse I wanted it she would have to do it. When the nurse was in the room and it was getting rough the doula was in my face, talking over my grunts just in case I slipped lol.gif I think like 2 minutes before I started pushing I begged the nurse to "give me something". She laughed and said too late! (The nurse rocked and was very supportive of a natural birth so she was very encouraging too). Another thing the doula said is that once the contraction was over that was it, I would never have to do that contraction again. Taking it one at a time really helped.

 

I vaguely remember a cool washcloth appearing from somewhere.

 

Reminders to breathe. Funny how you forget to do something so simple.


Steph, DH Jason (1-1-11), DS Owen (10-3-03) and DS Kai (10-13-11)

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