Labor is the finish line in a process that will truly change your life. There’s a lot happening all at once and so much to do-or not do. The choices you make during labor are important, and it can be nerve-racking to think through it all. Allow us to share some tips you can use while transitioning from pregnancy to parenthood.
Labor and delivery tips
Labor and birth can be long and difficult processes. There’s a lot out of your control and making peace with that isn’t easy. Here are some tips on coping with the things you can’t control and taking hold of those you can.
1. Stay in the moment
This is a key part of having healthy and productive labor. It means not worrying too much about how far you are and why things aren’t going this or that way. Staying in the moment and focusing on the stage you’re at is a great grounding technique for those in labor.
2. Keep moving
Moving during labor and birth is a great and underutilized tool. Gravity is your friend; it opens up your pelvis and can help get you dilated. Plus, who wants to just lie there in pain? Moving livens up your experience and is a great pain relief tool for some.
3. Have a plan
Birth plans are amazing and can serve as a great guide to the entire birth team. Everyone knows your wishes and what you want to occur during and after labor, so it doesn’t have to be said. The key point here is making sure you don’t obsess over the plan. It’s a set of guidelines, a starting point. Still, remember that birth is rarely a predictable event, and listening to your body should always be at the center of your plan.
4. Trust the process
This overlaps with the point on having a plan, but it’s worth saying it again: trust your body, trust your baby, and trust the process. In each and every moment, you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Plans are great, but going with the flow and staying in the moment should be your priorities. Don’t get trapped.
5. Let’s not get too fancy
When having expectations or making a plan, less is more. The same goes for labor. Don’t go over the top. Trust your body to know what to do and what movements are best. No need for a bunch of fancy accouterments. Use what you have, what you know, and your own body.
Tips for the birth partner
When you’re the partner of the person giving birth, there can be so much pressure and so many questions floating around in your head. What do you say? What do you do? How can you help and truly make a difference? It can be a scary time for you as you wonder if you’re making the right steps, saying the right things, and being everything your partner needs at this moment. The good news is you’re one part of an entire team, and everyone has their role to play during labor. You all work together to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
1. Make sure you don’t overdo it
Being obsessed with everything is to everyone’s detriment. Sometimes less is more. Be okay with silence. Be okay with simply listening to the words of your birthing partner. If you’re prone to overthinking, suppress that side of yourself for the moment. Don’t try to talk too much and ask questions incessantly. Pay attention to the body language and keep a cool head.
2. Be the calm one
Co-regulation isn’t just a parenting technique. This is a term that describes the instance of one nervous system calming another, and this happens in a loop, soothing everyone in the process. It’s a great tool to use in high-stress situations. Help co-regulate your partner by remaining calm. It’ll rub off and ripple through the room, helping the entire birthing team.
3. Advocate for your birthing partner
Don’t be afraid to speak up. Even if a doula is involved, nothing beats having a partner who knows what the woman who is giving birth wants from labor and birth and isn’t afraid to be vocal about it. Doulas are there for backup, but you can and should advocate for your birthing partner, too.
5. Let it roll off your back
Things may be said, demanded, and done during labor and birth. Don’t dwell on them and don’t take them personally. Stay in the moment, but be realistic. This is a stressful situation, and emotions will run high, but it will all be worth it.
6. Get in there
It seems to me that many partners often feel nervous and are scared to get in there. Be active, which means don’t be afraid to do more than hold your partner’s hand. Ask the doula to show you a massage technique and perform it on your partner. Hold their body in certain positions as they go through labor. Ask the medical team questions and share your concerns.
Most nurses and doctors are more than happy to answer your questions, and seeing you take an active role is helpful to the woman giving birth. There’s no such a thing as being too educated. Don’t be afraid to get in there and really participate in the birth. This is something the two of you can discuss in advance and even include in the birth plan.