Lindsey Bliss is a DONA-certified doula, co-director of Carriage House Birth in New York and Los Angeles, and mom to seven children (including two sets of twins). As a child, her own mother taught childbirth classes in their home, and as an adult, she has attended to 250-plus women as they’ve brought new life into the world. Her recent book, The Doula’s Guide to Empowering Your Birth, is a valuable and reassuring resource to both novice and veteran moms. But in case you can’t wait two days for Amazon Prime to ship the childbirth guide right to your doorstep, we asked Bliss to offer some of her best advice below.
1. Help your partner prepare to support you through labor and delivery.
A partner can prepare for childbirth by attending a childbirth education class and reading up on some pregnancy and childbirth books. A good one for partners is called The Birth Partner by Penny Simpkin.
Ask your partner how comfortable he or she is supporting you through all the phases of labor. Perhaps hiring a birth doula can help support your partner support you. Doulas can normalize the birthing process and often allow the partner to feel much more present and attentive to the laboring person’s needs.
2. Know the right positions to try during labor.
Hands and knees is a great laboring position because it helps encourage the baby into the optimal fetal position for birthing. It can also take the pressure off of the sacrum and make the contractions more manageable.
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Sitting on a yoga ball during labor is a great way to open the pelvis and facilitate the laboring process. It’s wonderful because your partner can apply sacral pressure or double hip squeezes easily while you are in this position.
3. … and don’t forget to prepare for possible back labor.
Back labor can make the laboring process extremely uncomfortable and very challenging. Hot and cold packs can help. Massive amounts of sacral pressure and double hip squeezes from a birth partner can take the edge off, too.
Doing some lunges or climbing steps is also a great way to help rotate a baby off of the back. Typically, back labor happens because the baby is not in an optimal fetal position and is putting lots of pressure on the lower back.
4. Utilize early labor to brace yourself for the marathon ahead.
Hydrate like crazy and rest! Resting in early labor is the absolute hardest for most of my doula clients. The excitement of being in labor makes it really challenging, but it’s extremely important. No one can anticipate how long of a road is ahead, and even little catnaps between spaced-out contractions can provide enough rest to endure a long labor.
If sleeping isn’t an option, I recommend resting the body and watching a comedy or some mindless television. Laughter is a wonderful early labor distraction.
5. Remember that not every birth will go according to plan.
It’s important to embrace that a change of plans may occur in a given situation. The closest common denominator in a birth experience going just as you pictured is having an amazing care provider. A midwife or an obstetrician who shares your birthing philosophies and respects your choices is key to a positive birth.