Gentle birthing tips
Despite the blood, pain and sweat inherent to the process, it is possible to give your newborn a relatively gentle entrance into the world.
- Set the mood
Your newborn's eyes are used to very little light. So, close the blinds and dim the lights, or opt for candle light when it's time to push.
- Warm your birthing room
Get it up to 80+ degrees Fahrenheit. Newborns cannot regulate their own temperature yet and they've been living in a human heater for the past nine months.
- Push when you feel the urge
The well-intended and common practice of coaching a woman to push is responsible for a great deal of the painful vaginal and perineal tearing women experience during the delivery process, as women bear down before their body is fully ready to push. You will feel the spontaneous urge to bear down some point after you've hit transition (if you're not numbed by pain-medication), but oftentimes, this urge is usurped or ignored by birth attendants, midwives and doctors.
Research indicates that letting a woman bear down according to her own bodily schedule significantly lowers her risk of tearing. Pushing before you feel the urge means you're putting your poor vagina through the wringer before it's been fully prepped.
- Wait to clamp the cord
Waiting until your newborn's umbilical cord stops pulsing before clamping allows them 15 - 20% more blood (strength and energy) from the placenta than they would receive if the cord were immediately clamped. If you're giving birth in the hospital be sure to notify your birthing attendant beforehand as many hospitals are still behind the times regarding optimal delivery practices.
- Breastfeed immediately
Before the cord stops pulsing and before anyone takes your newborn to be cleaned, weighed and tested - IF your baby is breathing, immediately bring your baby to your breast and focus on getting them to latch as you meet for the first time. By breastfeeding immediately, you'll trigger your milk production and a sense of well-being and safety for your tiny new offspring.
- Focus on getting a good latch
Gently place the entirety of your nipple into your baby's open mouth. Don't worry about whether your newborn is getting any milk at this first feeding. It's the physical act of breastfeeding that's most important right now, as your milk supply will be stimulated by your baby's suckling.Not only does immediate breastfeeding increase your chances of a successful latch, but it also helps you deliver the placenta as your newborn's suckling causes your uterus to contract!