Welcome to my Childbirth Tab!  I have developed such a strong passion for all things 'healthy baby', and here, you can read up on some great tips for pregnancy and delivery.  Things like choosing a midwife or doctor, adequate protein intake, pregnancy exercises to get your body ready to deliver and a few other little tidbits. 

***I am gleaning most of the information you'll be reading from a book I used as my bible during pregnancy, and you can see the reference at the end of the page.  While these tips are good for all pregnant women, the book promotes a medication free delivery and breastfeeding.  Not every woman has the same opinion on these topics, so if you happen to disagree, then you can move on to the next section, or decide not to read these pregnancy and delivery tips after all.***

I delivered my first child with an epidural (reluctantly) and wanted a much different experience the second time around.  With the birth of our second baby, we enjoyed a beautiful, husband coached childbirth.  For more about each of their deliveries, see my other Tabs on their Birth Stories. 

Whether you choose to have an unmedicated delivery or not, there are some good things to know regarding the delivery of your child.  Pregnancy is hard!  It can also be tough on baby, so some of these tips help not just mama, but baby also.  We all want the very best things for our baby, and as a mom, that's our job, no matter what, right?  So, read on...even if you've had a baby before, sometimes you find a new tidbit of information that you've never seen before, and it can make all the difference in the world!

*Choosing your doctor/midwife*

With my first delivery, I had a wonderful OB, he was great!  He just didn't "get" natural childbirth and I didn't feel like I had that support from him.  So the next time around...I chose a midwife, and I LOVED her.  I knew she was on my side and supported my beliefs.  Check to see what the C-section rate is for your doctor or clinic if you choose a midwife. 

*Protein Intake*

You need to be getting 80-100 grams of protein daily to grow what's considered a "Blue Ribbon Baby".  The book has a protein guide in the back, so you can see how much you are getting each day.  I thought I was doing fiiiine..."I don't need to calculate it, I'm getting enough, I know I am.".  Yeah, that's what I thought, and then I said, "Well, I'll calculate it anyway.".  Good thing I did!  I was only getting about 40 grams of protein a day, HALF of what I should have been eating!  So, check your protein intake and get some more in ya'!

*Stages of Labor*

Sometimes, even if you've had a baby before, you just want to know more about the birth process.  Never fear, these chapter talk about the three stage of labor: 1) Opening the cervix, 2) Pushing the baby out, and 3) Delivery the placenta.  It relates all of the specifics and things you may not have known.  BUT, it does give you a great knowledge base for the things you'll be reading in the rest of the book.


If you are not doing these specific exercises to help you prep for labor and delivery, you are NOT preparing!  My husband checked in on me every day via text to make sure I was doing my exercises, he was a great support.  Your husband should be JUST as involved with this pregnancy and birth process as you are, by the way....this is a two person game!

~Tailor sitting (or, Indian style), all the time, as much as you can.  Eat dinner on the floor sitting like this, fold laundry on the floor like this...any time you sit, you should be sitting like this.  Not to say you can't sit on a pillow on the floor, but it makes your body comfortable with "legs apart"! 

~Squatting.  It's just like how it sounds.  Feet on the floor, knees apart and squat.  Work towards getting those heels on the floor...it will take time!  This helps to stretch the perineum in preparation for delivery.

~Pelvic rocking.  Hands and knees on the floor and and sag your tummy...kind of like a cow, loosen it up!  Then, raise your lower back and curve it slightly...kind of like a cat stretch.  Try to keep those shoulders relaxed, if you feel your shoulders getting tired early on, you're putting too much work into them.  This exercise is VITAL and you should be doing it frequently (it will tell you how much in Dr. Bradley's book).  This loosens you muscles and gives you a great stretch while helping to get the baby into a head down position.

~Legs Apart.  This you will do with your hubby and works kind of like a hip abduction machine at the gym.  You just lean against a wall with your legs as together as you can get them and with your hubby's hands on the outside of your thighs pressing moderately, open your legs.

~Kegals.  You should be doing these frequently, at least 100 good kegals during the day.  Not the quick, do-nothing kegals.  They strengthen the pelvic floor.

*Relaxation Techniques*

In all reality, this is where I stray slightly from the book.  There is a specific position that the Bradley Book teaches you to assume when you are having a contraction.  They also want you to maintain an even breathing pattern, or use one of three breathing techniques.  I will say....all of these are GOOD things to know about and use.  They give you a great basis and foundation , a goal so to speak for what you should be aiming for during labor.  And now, I will tell you that a lot of childbirth enthusiasts will tell you to labor how you are comfortable.  During the contraction, find a position that makes you relax your muscles as MUCH as possible.

Your job during labor is to get out of your own way and let your body do it's thing.  Frequently, mama's who have a failure to progress in labor....have this as a result of an inability to relax....they fight the contraction.  I did this with my first, so I know the challenge! 

Let me give you a great tip.  I had success sitting on the toilet.  Yup, that's right, I labored on the toilet in the hospital.  Why?  Since your own mama potty trained you as a wee child, you have been trained to relax those pelvic muscles on the potty, and at this point, it's second nature!  So, give it a shot.  When you are in labor, try a contraction on the toilet and relax those muscles just like you need to pee, and prepare to be amazed at how much easier a contraction is to 'take' when you are relaxed...it's a HUGE difference!

If that doesn't work for you, that's OK!  Try squatting, try on your hands and knees, try a birthing ball, try laying on your side in bed with your leg pulled up and your knee bent, try ANYTHING to get those pelvic muscles to relax!!!  If something doesn't work, just keep trying something new, and don't think anyone will think you are being silly or strange...It's YOUR labor, do whatever works!

In between contractions try and move around just a bit.  This movement will help baby slide on down that birth canal and move it's head to fit through the birth canal.  Babies need to turn their head a few times to fit through mama's pelvis, so your movement can only help them along.  Whatever works...hang onto hubby and sway your hips, walk, lean on the bed, the wall and sway sway sway!

If you have back-aches or back labor, you have a unique challenge!  Often, this means baby is "sunny side up" or "face up" and it causes more stress as they slide down the birth canal.  Rely on hubby to RUB your back as hard as you need for relief.  And....he should be practicing during your pregnancy anyway ;)

*Emotional Map of Labor*

This is an extremely important thing to understand about your body and labor.  Frequently, doctors will rely on checking your dilation to ascertain your progress in labor.  This can be terribly misleading as all labors are so very very different.  Let me explain...doctors often expect you to dilate around 1cm every hour.  So....we then expect ourselves to somehow force our bodies to conform and dilate 1cm every hour.  How exactly do you force your body to dilate?  You don't!  But the doctor thinks you should, so he starts Pitocin (blech!) and your labor quickly spirals out of control.
  Instead, we look at the emotional signposts of labor to track your progress!
Your body may choose to dilate to a 4cm or 5cm and then hold out...and you may think you are not progressing.  Then, you may dilate to an 8cm in as little as half an hour.  You do NOT get to choose the speed of your labor.

So, here are the THREE EMOTIONALSIGNPOSTS of labor to keep track of (we'll talk about fast and slow labors later):

1. Excitement:  Just what it sounds like!  You are excited labor has begun and you certainly feel a tightening of your uterus.  Your contractions are relatively short and easy, and you are able to maintain your excitement.  This is fairly easy to recognize as you can pretty much continue your daily activities in between your contractions.

2.  Seriousness:  Your body is now getting down to business.  You are no longer able to maintain your initial excitement.  You definitely need to concentrate and sit or lay down during contractions and recover in between.

3.  Self Doubt:  Here it is ladies, the moment when you begin to think you just can't do it.  The moment when you have no answers for anyone and you are completely enveloped in your labor.  THIS is the moment you think you need drugs.  Just know that this part of your labor (transition) is the absolute shortest part of your labor, it goes super fast...thankfully!  You may say "I can't do it!" or "I don't know!".  This isn't a time for asking a laboring woman if she wants drugs....she can barely tell you her own name right now.  Once you hit the SELF DOUBT phase...be excited, it's almost time to push and the end is near!! 

~I will tell you that I was only checked for dilation ONCE during my labor and that was by my request.  I had been laboring for 2 hours and was at 6cm (I was at a 4 when my water broke).  My midwife didn't even check me when I was ready to push.  She came into the bathroom, sat down and watched me through a few contractions and said, "Yeah, I think you're ready to push now."  I didn't even believe her!  I was only 6cm an hour before, but she was right!  I got up to walk to the bed and my body was trying to squat as I walked!  That right there is a good midwife!!

*Speed of Labor*

We obviously can't predict how fast our labor will be, but we do know that each labor is unique and preparation can help our body to do what it needs to do and perhaps be a little more efficient.  Some women trot right along at an even keel, and some are what are defined as Speedsters or Putterers.

Speedsters:  Skip the beginning and jump right on the train to labor land.  They quickly get down to business and have contractions 3 minutes apart and a good 60 seconds long to start. 

Putterers:  Have hours of slow, non-serious labor before entering into serious labor.  When serious labor does start, be prepared for a longer labor.  This does not mean your not progressing, it just means your body is taking a little more time.  This is why the book recommends laboring at home for a while so you are not 'rushed' to deliver your baby when you get to the hospital.  And THIS is why it's important to know the emotional signposts so you get to the hospital in time....ahhhh, seeing the connections?!

*Labor Scenarios*

This section in the book gives you a run through of the ten different ways your labor may begin. They give a general rundown of each scenario and how your labor will be.  It was pretty spot on with both of my labors for both children. I will just list them here:

1)  Textbook
2)  Mucous Plug
3)  Water Breaking
4)  False Alarm
5)  The Speedster
6)  The Puzzler
7)  Leaking
8)  The Putterer
9)  Backache Only
10)  Any Minute Now


You've made it!  You have made it to the second stage of labor....delivery of the baby, wohooo!  Congrats on making it through the hardest (typically) part of this whole process.  Your contractions in labor are very different than they are during pushing.  They change from dilating the cervix to helping you push your baby out and they feel *VERY* different.  They are much less uncomfortable, and they give you the undeniable urge to PUSH PUSH PUSH!  And if you are scared about the sensation of the baby in the birth canal...let me tell you this, it feels like (let me be frank) a big poop.  Really and truly, coming from a mother who birthed her son's 14.5 inch head, the head in the birth canal did not hurt, it felt like very large poop, just pressure.  And when that contraction comes, work with it, baby!  Push with your contraction...push away, it feel soooo good...just like when you really do need to poop. 

Pushing positions can vary.  Frequently, the best pushing position is a curled back, pulling your knees up and out.  This helps the baby slide down the 'baby sliding board' and right on out.  Often, with 'sunny side up' or face up babies, they encourage you to tilt your pelvis up with a straighter back to assist with the different position of baby.  I delivered with my hands braced on my thighs, it just felt right for me.  But, you may be sitting on a birthing stool, crouched on the floor, on your hands and knees...the sky is the limit when you have a great midwife.


**If you would prefer to skip this section, please do!**

This may be the chapter you've all been waiting to see.  Truth is, it's relatively short in comparison to the other chapters.  The reason is because if you've already bought the book, you know the truth.  Even if you haven't bought the book, you still know the truth.  Before I say the rest of what the chapter summarizes, let me say that I had an epidural with my first child, my daughter, and I regretted it...every moment of it.  I did not want it, but I was scared and not as well prepared as I needed to be.  I delivered my son naturally and LOVED it, I will NEVER be going back to drugs.  I've always believed in regards to medication that if it's strong enough to have an effect, it's strong enough to have a side effect.  We strive to keep our pregnant selves away from chemicals and drugs that can harm our growing fetus, and yet, when it's delivery time, we don't think twice about doping up on the most powerful numbing agents the medical field has to offer.  And why?  It's the power of persuasion.  It's been justified by the sheer number of women out there who are all 'doing it'.  We feel better about it because everyone else is 'doing it'....I know I did.  That's exactly how I tried to help myself feel better about my medicated delivery.  I'm not writing this to be one more person to justify exposing a tiny 8 pound fetus to a gargantuan, adult sized dose of anaesthetics, there are plenty of other people to do that for you.  C-sections are another story and there are certainly occasions when a C-section is unavoidable, and surgery is an obvious requisite for medication.  So come on here ladies, let's be the strong women we know we are!  Let's keep the drugs away from our sweet babies and let them enter the world awake and aware and pink and crying.  Let's make sure our baby isn't plugged in shroud of medication and pale and sluggish.  Delivering a baby is hard, hard work, and when it's not cloaked in numb-ness, is the most rewarding and exhilarating feeling in the world.  The difference in my deliveries was incredible.  I am woman, hear me roar.  Let the world hear YOU roar, also.

*Controversial Topics*

~Episiotomy:  Occurs in at least 90% of first time hospital births...hmmmm.
~Cesarean Section:  In 1980, your chances of having a C-section were 30:1.  In 1996 your odds are 4:1.  I can only imagine the odds today.
~IV drips ( I refused an IV...hey, I'm a nurse, I know that if you need to get a line in during an emergency, you get one in...it's not a big deal.)
~Stripping the membranes:  Make sure you know what you're getting at your checkups!
~Inducing labor:  Typically involves a dragging a woman who's body is not ready to deliver to a forced delivery with the use of Pitocin...the nasty drug.  There are other methods that are much gentler and require no drugs.
~Rupturing the membranes
~Forceps, vacuum extraction
~Stress test
~Breech babies:  Does not mean an automatic C-section, you just need to choose a doctor who is experienced in delivering breech babies vaginally.  Most doctors just do a C-section because they are scared and don't know what else to do.
~Inducing labor when your water breaks but labor doesn't start right away


Let's face it, breastfeeding takes time and effort.  I totally understand this.  I nursed my daughter for a full 12 months and I am in the process of doing the same for my son.  It's a big job.  And, I've worked part time while doing this.  So, I know the challenge of pumping.  Then you worry about your milk supply blah blah blah...It's hard!!  It's also the best thing you can do for your baby. ANY amount of breastmilk is better than nothing.  If you are worried you don't have enough milk, try taking herbs, they really helped me (Fenugreek and more, look them up online...and I found them at Whole Foods!).  Formula is based on cow's milk. 

Listen to this quote from the book: "Milk is not just age specific; is is series specific.  Seal milk is designed to put blubber on a baby seal, about 160 pounds in forty days.  Cow milk is designed for an animal with a small brain and a big body.  Human milk is designed specifically for the human blueprint:  species specific.  For optimal development of the human to reach maximum potential, to THRIVE, pick one of the three above."

"Look around, you say, look at all the human babies surviving on formula.  But here is the caveat:  the difference between the words 'survive' and 'thrive'."

~Survive:  to endure or live in spite of.
~Thrive:  to grow or develop vigorously; flourish.

I understand that many mama's struggles with milk production.  Your milk supply will fluctuate with your monthly cycle, the food you eat, hydration.  KEEP AT IT!  Try some herbs, pump pump pump if you decide to supplement, like I said, ANY breastmilk is better than none!

**I've summarized this information from a book called "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way" by Susan McCutcheon.  See below for more information!"
 This book gave us all of the nitty gritty details we would have found in a Bradley Class, had we gone to one.  It gave us all of the information we were in need of and answered all of our questions.  Absolutely invaluable to us!  If you are at ALL considering a natural delivery, you MUST get this book and devour it!
But, be prepared for some total 1970's actual pictures of laboring and birthing women!!

"Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way" by Susan McCutcheon

The first book we read is by Dr. Robert Bradley:  "Husband Coached Childbirth"

 In this book, Dr. Bradley explains why a natural delivery is so important, and helps you to see his reasoning behind developing his method of childbirth.  It was a really good read, and I do recommend reading it through together as a couple, mostly more towards the beginning of pregnancy before you really get into prep mode!
 Here's the link: