With so many parenting and birthing techniques that impact motherhood, it is no wonder that society is regularly saying ‘out with the old and in with the new’. It is an evolving world and the social conventions are regularly changing, so why not try to keep up with the changes that are going to be the norm for the future generation.
Yet, this doesn’t seem to be the case with everything about becoming a new parent. While more and more new and alternative avenues to giving birth are coming out, some medical professionals and doctors prefer to pretend that they don’t exist. Relying on old-school practices is helpful in some cases, but sometimes the standard way of giving birth (whatever that is anymore!) is just not right for some women.
So, even though the doctors might say there is only one way to give birth, there are actually many others. Some birthing techniques aren’t recognized or officially acknowledged by doctors, but they do exist and they do work. If the mainstream doesn’t sit right for you, you can always consider a newer birthing method that makes things feel more comfortable. It is your unique and individual birthing experience, after all!
Here is a technique that is all about sitting, standing, and moving in a safe and efficient way. It was developed by F.M Alexander in the early 1900s as a way for him to deal with his own vocal problems. Already, it has a range of versatility within in.
For pregnant women, this technique is a really useful way to release all the tension build up in the muscles that happen when labor starts. With the muscles constantly contracting in a painful way, tension is inevitable. With this technique, you can learn to increase the breathing capacity and get the body’s posture to a better angle, making childbirth much easier. It is a technique that can be practiced all throughout pregnancy so that the labor isn’t such a painful experience.
Back in the 1940s, Dr Robert Bradley put a laboring woman's husband to good use once the baby was on the way. Nowadays, this method is about focusing on the partner of the pregnant woman, whether that be a man or a woman, or even just a close friend or family member. To help manage the pain of giving birth, this method gives the partner an active role.
With the effective involvement of your partner, this method helps you to manage the pain through relief techniques and postural changes that are all natural and need no drugs. Together in partnership, you and your partner learn to embrace the positions of labor and how to manage the pain of contractions. It is an effective method not only to ease the pain but also strengthen the bond before your baby comes into the world.
Thankfully this method isn’t as much of a mouthful to handle as the name ‘psychoprophylaxis’ which is it's real name. Dr Ferdinand Lamaze started this method in Russia some time ago with the basis of it using a distraction method when the pain of contractions really hits. The idea is that having something to distract when a contraction hits reduces the perception of pain, therefore reducing discomfort.
So really, Lamaze’s way can be any type of distraction. Taking a class on this birthing technique will help you to understand how to use the distractive object to take away from the pain. The distraction can be something external, like a faithful teddy bear, or combined with breathing techniques and concentration. The classes can be done solo or with your partner.
This one isn’t particularly new, but the water birth delivery method does keep evolving and changing. Although the practice might vary, the underlying principle stays the same. Ultimately, taking a soak when the baby is on its way helps to relax the muscles and create a certain amount of buoyancy which takes away the tension of giving birth.
There is also a belief about water births that it helps the baby to enter the world in a more peaceful, less dramatic manner with less environmental changes taking place. This doesn’t have a lot of science to back it up, but it certainly is more peaceful when you think about it. The only time a water birth isn’t recommended is if the pregnancy becomes high risk.
With acupuncture something that conjures images of needles poking into the back, this can sound like a recipe for double trouble in terms of the pain levels of giving birth. However, acupuncture is actually natural pain relief. The Chinese medicinal practice is about placing thin needles into the body to balance the natural flow of energy.
When giving birth, acupuncture can make the pain of labor much, much less. In fact, studies show that 50% of women who use acupuncture won’t even consider asking for an epidural. Acupuncture can be used at any time during labor and can be started after the waters have broken. In some cases, acupuncture has even been used to induce labor with some successful results.
While this one can seem like it’s got too much mind control going on, hypnosis, in this case, isn’t about having some big medallion waves in front of the eyes. This is actually to do with self-hypnosis techniques that can help women have less pain during labor. It is a bit of a mind over matter type scenario, but one that is effective nonetheless.
The techniques of hypnosis for birthing can be better understood by taking classes. It is about helping you to retreat into your mind and body and ultimately program your brain to believe that labor will be totally painless and comfortable. Some women claim that by using this form of hypnosis, the nurses didn’t even believe they were in labor when they showed up to the hospital!
This is a technique that doctors prefer not to recognize as it takes a pregnant woman away from the sterilized environment of a medical facility. However, some women prefer the home birthing option as it makes them feel more calm, less anxious, and quite literally more at home. Interestingly enough, before the 1960s and the medical revolution of the time, home birthing was regularly done for centuries throughout many cultures.
The most important elements of a home birth are strong support systems. These systems need to be in place before, during, and after labor and delivery. There are some risks of a home birth, such as hemorrhaging or cord prolapse. It isn’t recommended for women with prior health concerns such as diabetes or preeclampsia.
Unbeknownst to many women, a hospital or at home are not the only options on where a birthing can take place. If the bright lights and blasting air conditioning of a hospital room don’t sound appealing in the slightest, there are all natural birth centers accessible to women which offer a different approach to delivery.
For healthy women with a low-risk pregnancy, birth centers are a great option. Birth centers are basically low technological rooms that are more comfortable and homely than a hospital. There are no inductions or medical interventions that happen at a birth center. There are things like oxygen and IV available in case of emergency. The idea behind birth centers is to focus on holistic comfort and take away the anxiety of giving birth as being a medical procedure.
The name doesn’t make much sense initially as obviously birthing is something that happens from within, but what this method is actually about it connecting with the spirituality of giving birth. This is a natural and spiritual approach that considers childbirth as something more of a rite of passage rather than a big medical procedure.
There are many birthing from within classes that teach mom-to-be how to connect with her inner self and prepare for pregnancy. This makes it more of a journey, rather than just a lead up to a hospital-based screaming episode of pushing and sweating. The classes do a lot of birth art such as belly sculptures and casts which are thought to help relieve pain in a subconscious way.
‘Doula’ is an ancient Greek word meaning ‘women who serve’, and that is exactly what a doula does during a delivery. Doulas are trained professionals who are there to assist mom-to-be while she goes through the birthing process. A doula can be involved throughout other stages of pregnancy as well, such as coming up with a birthing plan and educating expectant moms on what to know about giving birth.
A doula is a really individualized and personalized experienced. The doula and mom connect on a special level, figuring out the comfort levels and expectations of giving birth. The doula also helps the partner to be involved however much as possible. There are studies that show having a doula reduces the need for an epidural significantly.
If there is one thing that sounds universally appealing to a pregnant woman, it is a relaxing massage with oils. It is true that massages relax the muscles and bones while oils work to relax the skin and take away a lot of pressure.
When labor kicks in, it is well worth seeking out a massage. This can come from your partner or a close friend or family member. Have some essential oils on hand in your emergency labor bag. In between contractions, having someone massage the skin will help to calm down the process. This is a natural alternative to drugs or medical interventions. The physical contact also helps to keep you calm and feel connected, away from focusing on the pain of giving birth.
A little unconventional to pack in the emergency labor bag is an exercise ball. However, having one of these on standby can make a big difference to the birthing process. Using an exercise ball while in labor offers additional support to the body to seek out angles and positions that are more comfortable.
There are studies that show the best way to give birth is standing upright. This goes against what we see in hospitals where mom is laying flat on her back with legs in the air. Even if this is how the baby comes out, it is better to get the baby into position while still standing. Using an exercise ball can help position yourself and the baby for blast off. For instance, squatting with your back against the ball and the ball against the wall will help contractions pass through.
Another massage approach just goes to show that massage really is a successful key to relaxing a woman in labor. This birthing technique focuses on the pressure points. Like in acupuncture, this massage technique is about pinpointing pressure spots that are designed to take away anxiety and stress.
Some of these pressure points include the B48 which relieves back pain and pelvic tension, the B28 which takes away strain from the lower back, and St29 to relax the pubic bone and balance the flow of energy to the uterus and cervix. Having a look at some diagrams online can be enough to know where to pressure down - and getting your partner or a friend or family member to do this while labor is in full force can make a big difference.
This isn’t so much of a technique as a style of giving birth. In a lotus birth, the umbilical cord isn’t cut from the baby straight away, as in a standard birth. Rather, the umbilical cord is left attached to the baby until it is ready to fall off naturally and part from the placenta on its own accord. This does mean that the placenta also stays attached to the baby for a week or so after baby's out.
The main logic behind a lotus birth is that the placenta is what joins mom and bubs to each other. Cutting the cord the straight away severs the connection and bond that formed in the womb. A lotus birth is more about a journey rather than a medical procedure and believes that the flow of energy from mom’s placenta should stay with the baby to ease the transition into the world.
The idea of labor and delivery can be a daunting one for many reasons. As a result, many women build up an image of pain and anxiety that is counterproductive when actually in labor. This is a mental stimulation problem and it is very understandable.
To combat this, guided relaxation works to fill the mind with harmonious and peaceful imagery in the lead up to labor. This technique aims to build a harmony between the mind and body to bring intrinsic relaxation to the forefront. Guided relaxation is something you can do yourself by following online guides or have someone talking you through the steps during labor. It is very much a mental process but it has positive effects on the body and the entire birthing procedure.
Sources: Americanpregnancy.org, Thebump.com, Empowher.com, Parents.com, Babycenter.com