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I am going to be a first-time mom, due in four weeks. I need some suggestions for preparing for labor.<br><br>
I have all of the classic natural birthing books recommended to me by my doula, but find that they mostly cover choices about birthing options and don't go very far in explaining what labor will be like or provide details on natural pain management. I realize that my doula will guide me during labor, but I don't want to be entirely helpless. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take any "good" birth education classes - we did the one recommended by our midwife and it basically told us what the books did. I did take a prenatal yoga class, so I am familar with relaxation techniques but I had to stop after a few weeks because of symphysis pubis dysfunction and I need more practice.<br><br>
I've looked at the hypnobabies and hypnobirthing info, but it's too late for the class and I don't think we can afford the full set of materials. Can anyone suggest some affordable resources for me, something that can help me in this short period of time? Your input is appreciated! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="innocent">
 

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I would get "The Birth Partner" by Peggy Simkin and read it. It is written more for doulas and partners, but it does a very good job of going more in depth into what labor might be like and how to cope.<br><br>
Also, if you haven't read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, I'd highly recommend that too. It's got great stories told by women about what birth was like for them.<br><br>
If you want to PM me with your email address I'd send you a copy of an email/letter that I wrote to my friend a few weeks before she had her first. I can't remember what all is in there but I had just done my three-day intensive doula-training course and so had lots to share about this topic, if I remember correctly. I saved a word document of it in case any other friends asked me for advice or what it was like. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Friends on Mothering count too. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> (p.s. I was a grad student until a month ago when I finally graduated!)
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>runner29</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11641848"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I would get "The Birth Partner" by Peggy Simkin and read it. It is written more for doulas and partners, but it does a very good job of going more in depth into what labor might be like and how to cope.<br><br>
Also, if you haven't read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin, I'd highly recommend that too. It's got great stories told by women about what birth was like for them.<br><br>
If you want to PM me with your email address I'd send you a copy of an email/letter that I wrote to my friend a few weeks before she had her first. I can't remember what all is in there but I had just done my three-day intensive doula-training course and so had lots to share about this topic, if I remember correctly. I saved a word document of it in case any other friends asked me for advice or what it was like. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Friends on Mothering count too. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> (p.s. I was a grad student until a month ago when I finally graduated!)</div>
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Another vote for both of above mentioned books plus Birthing from Within!!!!<br><br>
Runner- I'm also super curious about your letter/email... If you care to share, I'd love to read. Or ignore me, I do get nosey! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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I would highly suggest watching as many birth videos as you can get your hands on, and also doing a weekend intensive birth class--instructors usually offer a reduced rate if you are low income. I recommend Birthing From Within.
 

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Here is a link to a site where you can listen to/download some guided meditations for pregnancy and birth for free:<br><a href="http://tinyurl.com/4nxvx8" target="_blank">http://tinyurl.com/4nxvx8</a><br><br>
I would listen to the Healthy Pregancy and Affirmations everyday for the next few weeks and Successful Childbirth when you are in early labor. I am taking the HypnoBabies home course and it is more indepth than these, but I think these meditations are great and could really help you relax and get ready.<br><br>
My doula explained that all the birthing classes and techniques have one goal and that is to help you relax so your uterus relaxes. You need to just let your body do its thing without resisting. When you are fearful or tense, that's when the pain can get bad. So these meditions should be really good tools for teaching you to relax. It is definitely something that needs to be practised though, as i have been learning in my HypnoBabies course. You essentially need to train your mind to let your body go into a relaxed state.
 

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For me my yoga practice and meditation played a huge part during my labor, especially relaxed breathing. There are yoga videos out there that offer different stages of movement depending on what you're comfortable with, a lot of them allow you to sit. It is very individual so what may work for some may not work for others. Making sure you have the option to move around when you need to and use water for pain management can be essential if that is something that helps you, for me the water made a night and day difference. Definitely prepare the scene for birth to be as relaxing and peaceful as possible.
 

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For me, I found reading birth stories to be very helpful.<br><br>
Also, realizing that this is something that differs for every woman, so no one could truly tell me what to expect helped calm some of my anxiety.
 

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I found that there really wasn't much that needed to be done in the way of "natural pain management". For me, it was sort of like having a really bad stomach ache that came and went in waves. When I was in pain, I just took deep breaths and said things like, "I'm okay" "I'm doing great" etc. When I wasn't in pain, I chugged Gatorade and munched on Fig Newtons LOL. I didn't experience any pain until about 8-10cm. Honestly, I remember laughing a few weeks later at how much I had concerned myself with the birth itself. Trust me, taking care of the baby is the hardest part! You'll do great mama, just trust in your body's ability to birth your baby without need for intervention of any kind.
 

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Don't panic. You will find a coping mechanism that will work for you. Your doula will help you. She can also go over basic labor stuff.<br><br>
Labor can be very gentle to start or it can be very sudden and breathtaking. Each labor is different, so no one can tell you what yours is going to be like. Just try to make it through 1 contraction at a time and you will be fine.<br><br>
You can do it. I know you can!!
 

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I think it's easy to get wrapped up in all the things you learn in classes, but really it's very simple. Stay upright and moving around as much as you can. Relax as much as possible and do what makes you comfortable. Drink lots of fluids and pee regularly.<br><br>
If I had to recommend the top three books to read in the last few weeks, I would agree with others on Ina May Gaskin's books and Birthing from Within by Pam England.<br><br>
The things I would say NOT to do would be worrying about what other people are doing/thinking/feeling or paying attention to how long it's taking or how fast you're progressing. Sometimes it's easier to say than to do <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
You can do this!
 

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I am chiming in to agree with the book choices. Ina May has some great, concrete suggestions: loosening the jaw; making low sounds rather than high-pitched; visualization or repetition of imagery/words (I used "open open open").<br><br>
It is true that labors are different enough that everybody can tell you how theirs went, but can't really say what yours will be like, except that it will probably follow a certain pattern that is discussed in your books. It was helpful to have my doula there to let me know things like a contraction would be stronger after an internal check on the cervix; it was good to know that all the throwing up I was doing was opening the cervix, things like that. Mainly the point is to help you stay on top of it mentally, to keep fear away.<br><br>
I found early labor was fine, then fear came through (this was mainly because of my environment), and when I finally got to where I was going to give birth, I got into the swing of things and I suddenly knew I was going to do it. That confidence is really key, IMO.<br><br>
So - you have a doula, you have a support system, you have clearly done your research. You can do it!
 

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How did your mother birth? Talking to my mother and sister (and aunt and cousin) who all had Natural Child Births (all in the hospital, except for cousin's unplanned UC) - was really helpful for me. If your mother had an uninduced labor (in hospital or elsewhere) without meds, that may help you a bit in terms of knowing how your labor may go (at least, my family's labors were predictive of my short, "easy" labor).<br><br>
I was freaked a bit too, I worried that my mom, sister, etc. were all minimizing the pain so I wouldn't worry. But my sister assured me that it really WAS that easy, to just relax and go with it.<br><br>
I think the key is relaxation. Know that you are capable of this. Trust yourself, and every time you start feeling more pain, consciously relax your body again. Try different positions until you find one that works with you (avoid IVs if possible so you CAN try different positions, and avoid external fetal monitoring if possible too, same reason).<br><br>
You can do this. The media makes birth look a lot more painful and awful than it really is (at least, in my experience!). If you expect it to be painful and awful, that certainly will increase the likelihood of that. Expect it to be hard physical work, and to feel that strain. To me, most of labor (until transition) is like bad stomach cramps. At the point where you think, "Goll, I can see why women want pain meds while in labor!" - it's pretty likely that you're at or near transition, and pretty close to pushing.<br><br>
Labor is finite. The path through it will differ for each mother and baby, but it does have an end point. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> And the reward is pretty awesome! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
ETA:<br>
I took a day-long birth class from the hospital (it was remarkably NCB friendly, and BF friendly too). We learned positions and breathing methods. These were helpful, although I know when the nurse told me I was 8cm I said, "Oh, then I need to change to the next breathing style right?" And she laughed and told me, "What you're doing is working for you. Just keep it up and change if it stops working."<br><br>
I didn't read anything about birthing except what little was in my "Mother of All Pregnancy Books" -- I talked to family about their births and that was it. I had a great OB (very NCB friendly). In retrospect, I wish I'd have read more. I've had a really positive birthing history, but I would like to have known more -- several of the books suggested are on my list of "to reads."<br><br>
I also agree about reading the birth stories board here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the wonderful suggestions and encouragement. I actually already have Ina May Gaskin's book, so I reread that carefully and I found it to be very inspiring. I've also got the others suggested coming to me via my library system, and ordered a Birthing from Within CD to listen to - that looked like it might be helpful.<br><br>
I think the most important thing will be to practice the positive thinking and visualization about labor and keep in mind the big tips - which you all reminded me of. And DH and I have started talking about what I can do to relax and what he can do to help me do so. I do feel lucky to have a good support team - our doula will be there along with a doula in training. Unfortunately my mom had a single birth - me - and it was quite traumatic. She doesn't like to talk about it and she was quite resistant to our desire for a natural birth at first. That's the main reason we looked into a doula in the first place, long before we learned about the advantages in terms of having a natural birth - we wanted someone with experience and who could help care for me there with us.
 

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I haven't been there yet myself -but some thoughts -<br>
How about mantras? There are a few phrases I have in mind to use that I find empowering, reassuring, & comforting. One of them is the fact that each ctrx I feel - I will <span style="text-decoration:underline;">never feel again!</span> <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Deal with it for a minute and it's GONE - never to be felt again - and you're one more step closer to holding your baby.<br><br>
I also think it's important to envision birth being hard work, but going well. Envision yourself greeting contractions & riding each wave successfully.<br><br>
Supposedly, lots of studies have shown that it helps athletes to ENVISION themselves performing well. I figure it must help laboring too.
 
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