It’s pretty commonplace for women to assume that the birth experience should be something akin to what they’ve seen in movies and on TV. Most people don’t innately question information that is presented to them. We have been trained to take everything at face value. We are induced into believing that what we are told by the media and society is mostly true.
We have come to accept that societal norms are norms for a reason. We assume that what the majority of people are doing must be the right way of doing things. Now toss out all of that, because none of it is logical at all. Societal norms will never automatically equate to what is normal and best for each of us as individuals.
If we aren’t exploring all of our options, there’s no way we can truly know what we do and do not want.
If we make a decision based on only one side of the birthing experience, we can’t call any of our decisions informed ones. Are we supposed to be following in line with what doctors and movies that mock the birth experience say? Or are we supposed to be trailblazers that clear the path for our future daughters and encourage them to birth the way they were intended to in whichever way feels true to them?
Active birth is just one of many facets of the experience that is often glossed over by doctors who have their own agenda. Unfortunately, many doctors are simply used to the way they practice medicine. They are accustomed to their own methods and anything outside of that comfy space is a pain in the rear end for them that they’d rather not deal with.
On the flip side, there is a multitude of research that confirms that staying active during the birthing experience is the best way to birth. It will produce a faster birth with less pain and more progress. Why wouldn’t the doctor want that? Because they have no part in it. They have no job to perform and there is a far lower likelihood of the patient needing interventions. In other words, the doctor is left twiddling their thumbs and waiting on momma to birth — whenever that will be.
But that’s the beauty of birth. It’s unpredictable. It’s not supposed to be mapped out and controlled. It’s supposed to teach parents their first lesson in patience. It’s supposed to be a natural process that happens without the doctor’s interference when not necessary, and an active birth is the primary factor in this process.
14 Helping That Baby Descend
The process of helping the baby lower him- or herself into the birth canal is all thanks to movement and gravity. Feel free to play a favorite John Mayer tune while swaying those hips and walking the hospital halls. It might be a long night, but it won’t be as long as it generally is when a momma stays in bed to labor.
That’s right, continued movement is what drives labor. When women are relegated to a bed because they are numb from an epidural, their bodies cannot process labor the way it was supposed to occur. The problem with that is their body doesn’t know any other way. It’s all guessing game from that point on.
Even a momma who is determined to have a medicated birth should allow herself time in the first half of it to get things moving and well into the active phase of labor before she opts for the drugs. This is for the benefit of the baby and herself. The longer she can go without those drugs impeding her labor experience, the less likely she is to incur interventions that can make everything go awry.
13 Staying Aligned
Just when you’d thought you’d heard it all, you’re well into your pregnancy and finding out you should’ve been at the chiropractor all this time. It’s true! Yes, it’s completely safe to get adjusted while you’re pregnant. In fact, it’s more than that; it’s beneficial. Active births start before labor ever begins. Avoid reclining positions while pregnant and keep up with the proper posture.
Not only does proper alignment keep your immune system strong so you don’t get sick while you’re pregnant, it also keeps that spine and pelvis in the perfect position for birth. Too often, labor is slowed because the baby isn’t in the most optimal position for birth. This position, known as left occiput anterior, is achieved by mom being in the most optimal alignment for birth.
You’ll need a Webster-trained chiropractor to treat you during pregnancy, and before you assume they don’t have one in your little town, think again. They’re pretty common. Chiropractic care is becoming more and more mainstream and pregnant women everywhere are revelling in the relief it also provides to their aching backs during the nine-month stretch. Being aligned during labor will make the process run much more smoothly, and quicker!
12 Decreasing Pain
While we might not put too much planning into this part before labor, especially if we are planning to get the drugs, it’s important for moms to be prepared to birth without pain management. Why? Because the drugs won’t actually work for every woman. Because some women won’t have time to even make it to the hospital, let alone have an epidural administered.
Because things happen and sometimes birth won’t go as planned and you will have to do it sans meds.
That sure can sound overwhelming to the mother who was planning on not feeling any of it. That’s the point. We should all be prepared for a natural birth no matter what our hopes for the experience are, because we can’t predict how things will go.
One of the best tools women can use to help alleviate pain during labor is to keep moving! Rock your hips. Bounce on a birthing ball. Clench that birth peanut between your legs. Do squats. Engage in movement in whatever way feels best to you at the time. That will not only speed up your labor, but will make you more comfortable during it, too.
11 Keeping Mom Busy
Active birth isn’t just about getting through the pain. Too many women dread childbirth. They’ve been told that the experience is awful and that they as women are being punished in some way and must bear the burden of the pain that comes with procreation. Think again. This is merely the thought process that society has pushed on us, and it’s completely wrong.
Since the beginning of time, men have been trying to oppress the strength of women. They’ve never wanted us to know how powerful we truly are or how much weight we carry in this world. Hey, they don’t call it Father Nature, do they? We are the force that keeps things going. We carry and nurture these human beings until they’re mature enough to survive on their own, but they still need us — their mothers — for food and comfort.
Birth is no different. Until more recent decades, Dads weren’t even in the delivery room. Heck, until the turn of the 20th century, men —even doctors — weren’t in the delivery room. Birth was recognized as a female centered process. We women knew what we were doing then and we still do now.
Trust the process. Staying moving and distract yourself from the pain. Labor at home as long as possible. Go about your daily life until the pain is too much to stay distracted from. That’s when you know it’s time to focus on labor. Just don’t sit down for too long!
10 Dancing Away The Pain
While trend setting moms on the Internet might make for a hilarious labor experience droppin’ it like it’s hot when they’re 7 centimeters dilated, dancing during labor isn’t a new concept. In fact, for centuries, midwives have encouraged women to move their bodies in similar ways to help the baby move down the birth canal and be born.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a good dancer to rock your labor. If you don’t feel comfortable doing the tootsie roll in the hospital room, feel free to grab ahold of your partner and slow dance with him. Wrap your arms around his neck in true middle schooler fashion, keep those legs and hips open, and let gravity do its thing.
The gentle swaying motion going back and forth will help to ease the pain of contractions. Remember, when they come on, do not clench or tense up. That will also make the cervix tense. Keep your jaw loose and remember the sphincter law. You’ve got this.
9 Pushing Is Easier
There is no question about it. Pushing will always be easier if you keep moving. No, you don’t need to move about as you are pushing. But change positions. Don’t forget about gravity and lie down just because it’s time to birth. Seriously. Far too many women expect that birth should look the way it does in movies. That’s the last thing birth really looks like!
Get on your hands and knees and rock back and forth a bit. Try squatting on for size. If you must lay down and that’s what feels best, attempt to lie on your side while pushing, and use the birthing peanut in between contractions to rest while keeping your pelvis open.
If you have a squatting stool available to you, that is also a great tool to use. Some women even sit on the toilet to help things progress. Yep, it really works. If you’ve had a previous birth experience on your back, mix things up this time. Try birthing in a more natural position that women have been using for thousands of years rather than on your back in a hospital bed the way male doctors have urged us to.
You’ll be surprised how much simpler things are this time around and how much more in tune you feel with your body!
8 Sitting Up Equals Progression
In case you didn’t catch that, yes, laboring and birthing on your back is a male-driven concept. Because, men know so much about childbirth, right? It’s high time that women stand up for their bodily rights and their right to the birth experience they desire. Do not let your doctor pressure you into birthing the way he — or she — thinks you should. Do what feels natural!
Now then, you’ll have to dig down deep to figure out what really feels right and natural to you. At first, on your back may seem natural because that’s what you were expecting, or because that’s what your friends did when they were in labor, or even because the pictures in your pregnancy book paint labor with that same old tired brush.
Laying on your back not only decreases movement during birth, but it makes it easily for mom’s superior alignment to shift, which can also make baby shift into a position that isn’t great for birthing. No one wants to deliver a posterior baby, okay? Stay upright and stay focused on that baby moving down.
7 Bouncing Back Happens Faster
It would be silly of us to presume that women are only concerned with the birthing part of the labor experience and not postpartum. Of course we have to worry about what happens next! Our bodies go through hell birthing our babies and we all want to be able to bounce back from birth without too much hassle and discomfort.
This is just one more reason to stay active during your labor. While it’s not necessarily the movement that will make you feel less worn out and weathered after you have that baby, the superior birth experience will.
In other words, when you keep it moving while you’re in labor, you are less likely to incur interventions during your labor, like Cesareans and inductions, that will lead to you feel exhausted and depleted after the baby is born. No one wants to dread leaving the hospital because they need to go home and take care of themselves now and don’t have the energy to do it.
6 Boosted Circulation And Oxygen To Baby
We all know how exercise and circulation works by now. If the body is at rest, blood is flowing, but the pumping is slower. If a body is in motion, the heart works harder to pump more blood and keep the oxygen flowing throughout the organ systems, muscles and tissues of the body. Sounds invigorating, doesn’t it?
Yeah, your baby likes it, too. Keep that oxygen-rich blood flowing into that baby and the placenta. With elevated oxygen in the bloodstream, you will feel stronger and more prepared to tackle labor. You will also feel more alert and aware of your surroundings and what is happening within your body.
So many women want to check out during labor and they’ve got it all wrong. Immerse yourself in the process. Pay attention to the cues your body is giving you. Move with the contractions. Don’t fight them. Let them come over you in a wave of emotion and breathe them out. It truly will make labor easier and elevate the entire experience for you.
5 A Faster Labor
If you’re hoping for a swift labor that is easy breezy without much fuss, you won’t likely get it strapped to a bed being monitored and poked at the whole time. That’s not how this whole labor thing works. The body craves movement during labor.
The reason it hurts so much when you’re lying there in bed feeling every contraction is because mentally, you are doing nothing much focusing on each contraction, and physically, your body is doing nothing but focusing on each contraction. Get it?
You have to get out of your own head and give your body something else to concentrate on. This is why focal points and dancing work so well. Often, moms are indoctrinated into thinking birthing in a bed on their back is the norm. As all that pain overcomes them and they’re screaming for the epidural, they assume that this is just how painful labor is supposed to be.
It’s not true. It can be easier and over with much sooner if you stay in motion, momma.
4 Fewer Interventions
As previously mentioned, interventions are much more likely if you’re staying still. This is part of the reason that epidurals are linked to so much more intervention. Besides introducing opioids to the body, which cause things to slow down and can inhibit oxytocin production in your body that keeps labor going, they also cause mom to be pretty sedentary.
Suddenly, the birth that was progressing and the strong contractions that were coming in waves are now slowing down. Why?
That epidural forces mom to lay or sit in bed and wait for labor to happen to her. That’s not what labor has ever been about. It’s a process that mom must engage and participate in. Thus, the earlier those drugs are administered, the more likely the labor will take longer.
That’s just how it goes. Ask any woman you know who’s given birth naturally before and with the drugs before, it is very likely her natural birth — if she was prepared for it — was the shorter of the two.
3 Happier With Labor Experience
In general, women who have the birth they desire tend to be happier with the outcome, even if it was painful. For real. No matter how intense the pain gets, moms are usually happy with the outcome as long as the baby is healthy and their wishes were respected. That being said, a lot of women don’t give much thought to how they want their birth to go.
Sure, unexpected events can arise that make things take a different turn. But these too are less likely the more prepared one is for labor and the things that can happen. It is much better to have a plan in place for how you will make certain decisions should you have to than to have them show up and surprise you when you’re in more pain than you’ve ever experienced in your life.
One Brazilian study actually surveyed women after their birth experiences. It aimed to question their level of satisfaction with their birth experiences among women who stayed in the vertical position while in labor. The results showed that at 4 to 6 centimeters dilated, women who were vertical more than 50 percent of the time reported more satisfaction with their labor experiences. Stay upright and keep moving forward, mommies.
2 More Control Over Labor
Again, unforeseen events can always happen. Sometimes, you will not have control over what happens and will have to relinquish that control to get your baby delivered in a healthy and safe manner. In cases of birth where women have researched and prepared for their births, this is minimal.
It’s important that we focus not on having control over the baby and our body, but just having more control than the doctor tries to employ.
Birth is very much a natural process in and of itself. We ascribe to believe that a woman births a baby — rather than saying a doctor delivers one. In addition, we understand that it is the woman’s body that does the work in conjunction with her mind.
Birth is very much a game of mental stamina, not necessarily physical. Because, truth be told, all women can birth naturally if they choose. Pain tolerance has nothing to do with it. If we took away all those drugs, women would all be forced to go back to natural birth, and they would get through it.
But there are some women who will manage that more gracefully because they are prepared to do so, they have a desire to do so, and they are in control because of that preparation. When a woman knows how to move her body in ways that compliment what it is trying to do, she maintains more control over the outcome of birth. It’s that simple.
1 Engaging Him In The Process
Part of your goal in birthing that baby is surely to share it with Dad. You want him to be there not just to support you during labor, but to welcome your bundle of joy into the world. Let’s focus on the support part.
Sometimes, dads truly don’t know what their role is going to be while you’re in labor, and if you’ve never been through it before, you may not know what you will need them for besides a hand to hold. Trust me, sometimes you need more than that.
Make sure he knows that it’s most likely this birth of yours will be a marathon and you need him in tip-top mental and physical shape. He’s going to need to walk those hospital halls with you. When you want to bounce for an hour on that birthing ball, he’ll be holding it still.
When you want into and out of the bath tub three times, it’s him who you’d feel most comfortable helping you. When it’s time to push and you decide squatting is what feels best, you may need him behind you holding you up.
All that movement can be exhausting and quite taxing on your body, despite the gift of hormonal surges your body will be supplying you with. Remind him that he won’t have those hormonal surges, and that you’ll need him to persevere and get through this with you. An active labor means an active Daddy. Heads up!