As a Childbirth Educator and Doula, I often use water to illustrate what transpires during labor. First time moms are quite interested in what to expect during the birth process. The more a laboring woman understands about how her body works, the more apt she is at weathering the changes associated with the natural process of “giving birth,” not being “delivered from the experience .” Sadly, many birth professionals have lost site of this for the sake of the work being easier for them. This is why I created the Symbiotic Birth movement. We don’t need birth professionals to understand our decision of how we want to give birth, we just need them to SUPPORT our choices (if we are healthy and low risk) and maybe more importantly ENCOURAGE us along the way!
Early labor contractions come in waves and grow closer together and last much longer in late first stage. A hard labor contraction is much like that of the oceans tide. The now quite noticeable contraction builds, peaks out and then fades away. These contractions demand much more of our attention.
These two know a lot about maneuvering the oceans tides, as both met previously while working in the yachting industry. Although, they formerly worked on opposite ships, the deep blue sea and the love of it still managed to bring them together.
The couple had first met in Fort Lauderdale while out with other friends. Mimi had just started working on yacht, Sovereign and Nick was on yacht, Anteres. As fate may have planned it, their separate boats were both destined to end up in Mediterranean waters the summer of 2010. What a romantic love story! Most would agree the water has a way of creating both the utmost relaxation, as well as, the ability to rock the boat and create uncertainty when out to sea. Labor has a way of doing the same especially when women and their coach do not educate themselves. Women often buy their relaxation in the form of a shot, instead of learning proven relaxation techniques, proper positioning, etc. and when their only plan of medicine fails them they quote “suffer through it”. Now look, make no mistake, unlike Nick & Mimi, many pregnant couples are not the least bit interested in highly educating themselves in the birth process, at least not always with the first one. Let me speak the truth, we can’t take away all the rip tides associated with average labor, nor the white water rapids of short labor, nor the rogue waves that challenge women who go through a difficult transition, but what we can do is properly prepare them ahead of time. YourBirthHelper.com prides ourself in offering high quality labor and birth training in a variety of options for extremely busy couples.
It’s what changed the entire experience for Mimi & Nick. They already knew from their yachting days, you don’t go into rocky waters (nor labor) and not have a clue how to keep the boat afloat (manage labor) regardless of your choice to medicate or not. Mimi chose to labor and birth without hospital pain management options, but chose to prepare her mind & body ahead of time to welcome and understand the process thus removing fear which also lessens tension and then throw in proper positions you only have to endure the contraction itself, not all the unnecessary pain women create for themselves. Here the couple learns the many benefits and uses of the peanut ball for natural birth.
They were already aware of hospital options and routine interventions, however they didn’t just want to meander their way through their birth marathon in a sail boat which is tossed about by strong winds & rushing tides, nope they were gonna drive their yacht the way they wanted it to go, knowing the skills they were acquiring would give them confidence despite a 37 week induction.
They hired YourBirthHelper.com to support their wishes for their happy “BIRTH” day and we helped navigate the couple through some common labor challenges and still achieve their ultimate goal of drug free / epidural free labor & birth.
Together, the couple overcame multiple bouts of stress issues with (Monty seemed to only like one position, left side lie throughout first stage which challenged us greatly), man made artificial contractions, late labor meconium, avoided amniotomy, avoided episiotomy and despite not being able to use water in the form of tub or shower as a comfort measure for mom, various other relaxation techniques, such as, counter pressure, massage and visualization worked extremely well for Mimi.
Dad, Nick originally inquired of the value of having a highly trained Doula attending. I believe he now knows the many benefits of investing into the birth process long before labor begins. As normality experts we helped create a plan for Mimi of natural ways she could prep her body for labor.
You see, the typical hospital experience often still fails women, even when women choose drugs such as epidural or narcotics, because the medicine itself doesn’t remove the fear of unchartered waters. Often women who chose that route still use words such as traumatized to describe their birth... to anyone reading this blog post pregnant right now, know this: Plan ahead to Educate and learn how to work with your body not against it, explore your options for comfort measures (drugs are just one of many options), there are Birth balls, peanut balls, rub/ shower, a multitude of good positions, first and second stage basics (the right way to react to turbulent seas and the wrong way and the wrong way always creates more pain ontop of the contraction). Why would you create more pain for yourself? Why not prevent any unnecessary discomforts all together and simply manage your contractions by doing everything right?
In the photo below, the crystal clear water of the Arkansas River is making its way across the river rocks as the steep Colorado mountains ridge watches from above.
It is the perfect analogy of both how quickly natural labor can change and
how labor contractions appear to look like tiny mountains that appear during EFM (electronic fetal monitoring). The laboring woman’s uterus begins to squeeze, the contraction begins to build in intensity, then peaks out (about halfway thru) and then it decreases in intensity while slowly fading away.
The rocks in this New Mexico river bed represent the variations, obstacles or road blocks Mom is likely to encounter along the way, particularly during a medical induction.
There are times, when an expecting mother seems to know best, as does the river water setting out on its own course and also times she does not, such as
possible variations/ complications.
However, just like unforeseen obstacles in the river can reroute, slow or prevent the water from flowing its normal course, an untrained laboring woman, may instinctively do things wrong during a contraction and therefore, cause great deviations to her normal labor that can also slow, reroute or stop her contractions.
As Doula’s, we help navigate the ship through any uncertainty or uncharted parts of the journey. For example, Mimi had to undergo a medical induction at 37 weeks gestation for cholestasis. She had first thought maybe she had come in contact with an unusual plant that had given her a rash similar to poison oak or ivy, but later after seeking treatment discovered she was one of a small population of pregnancy moms affected by this condition. Her college friend and former client of mine, Amanda, in Charlotte, had referred her to YourBirthHelper.com to assist her through what is often a very challenging process at 37 weeks. Baby’s do not take kindly to being forced to evacuate nor doing without their “womb”service. In fact, healthy women often carry beyond their estimated due date with the average healthy mom carrying 41 weeks and 1 day before spontaneous labor kicks in.
Mimi and Nick were not only obviously committed to low intervention birth, but it was clearly made evident they are committed to one another. When Mimi was struggling, Nick was right there to offer loving encouragement and maybe more importantly, a new relaxation technique or positioning for better comfort. He was an active trained coach empowering Mimi along the Journey into Parenthood. She didn’t labor alone. She had him ever present by her side. It is most often, not that a laboring woman can’t take another contraction, it’s that she doesn’t want to feel alone in this very important work. And, truthfully as a devoted couple, actively attempting to bring a baby into the world, why should she have to?
Where women go wrong... they assume their mate knows what to do. However, just like women don’t, men are even more clueless of what to do to help. Girls, work smarter not harder. It just common sense if dad has no idea how to help you, he can’t. The coach needs to understand and learn their job during the labor process and technically they need to know mom’s job too. That way they can lovingly correct what we may or may not be doing correctly. The irony, just about the time mom decides she can’t go on is just about time we are close to giving birth. Mimi was blessed to have a Midwife & day nurse, who encouraged her during her self doubt phase despite hearing the words still 6cm for the third time. This is not the time to throw in the towel. What we know about the cervix... it can do whatever it wants, when it wants and boy will it ever. What we can do to avoid becoming discouraged or sabotaging our own birth plans is simply “ask them not to say the results aloud or avoid the internal exam until either constant rectal pressure without a contraction or a head presents.
For Mimi, pushing was right around the corner. And, although she was just told she was 6cm dilated for the third time, 15 minutes later the now expelling work of the uterus was quite evident during her exhale. We continued to labor down utilizing hands and knees for gravity, along with the peanut ball in side lie. Note: baby’s seem to hate the fetal monitor and will often try to get away from the heat bubbles it creates. It is not uncommon for nurses to have to chase a baby down for valid monitoring. This does not constitute a baby in trouble. Also, keep in mind, sometimes fetal heart rate decels occur with certain positions and even during head molding. This also should not create a sense of panic. Parents should know this, if a baby does not like the position, we must move and find a position in which baby is happy. You can never go wrong with changing positions and Mimi had to do so to kept baby Monty happy and avoid further intervention. Mom and dad had learned the proper techniques for push phase and Mimi executed controlled engaged abs and pushed extremely effectively maybe 30 minutes. Toward crowning, I reminded her to listen carefully to her Midwife and that Vickie would coach her through stretching and gently welcoming Monty into the world. Not only did Mimi push like a row machine champ, when needed she rocked her little grunts and patiently waited for the next contraction. I placed Mimi’s hand on her baby’s head and reminded her to open her eyes. Her Midwife encouraged her to reach down and help baby out and into her own arms...
then for a brief moment time stood still. Father, Nick watched in amazement and I am pretty sure I saw a little water leaking from his eyes as he gazed upon his first born son for the first time. Then he quickly leaned down and kissed his wife. You see, when a couple “gives birth” together (regardless of how the baby exits their body) there is a sense of accomplishment on both sides. Nick, who only thought he loved his wife, now knows and recognizes the sacrifices made by Mimi and her body for both carrying and bringing forth new life. When I asked Mimi what was her top goal of birth, she replied, SKIN TO SKIN with my new baby. Not only did she accomplish her number one goal, she brought him up to her own chest, as he simulataneously took his first breath.
Congrats Nick & Mimi! It was our pleasure to help you plan and execute your happy “birth”day!