1) Impatience to end the pregnancy due to discomfort, fatigue and eagerness to hold their baby
2) The possibility of a long, discouraging pre-labor phase.
These challenges make parents more accepting of induction or vulnerable to the belief that there is something wrong. Parents need to understand that labor normally begins only when all of the following occur:
• The fetus is ready to thrive outside the uterus (breathing, suckling, maintaining body temperature, and more).
• The placenta has reached the point where it can no longer sustain the pregnancy.
• The uterus is ready to contract, open and expel the baby.
• The mother is ready to nourish and nurture her baby.
If parents understand that fetal maturity is essential in initiating the chain of events leading to labor, they may be more patient with the discomforts of late pregnancy, and less willing or anxious to induce labor without a medical reason.
Natural induction methods are a viable options to assist and allow for the above criteria to be met and for labor to commence. However, they are not meant to coax the baby out but rather to encourage the process along. I will blog about natural induction methods coming up but for now, please see one delicious way by checking out my Labor Cookies Recipe.
The ways to progress to a vaginal birth
Progress before and during labor and birth occurs in many ways, not simply cervical dilation and descent, which is what most people focus on. Labor unfolds gradually, which begin weeks before labor and involve the cervix. The cervix moves forward, ripens, effaces and then dilates. When parents understand that a long pre- or early labor is accomplishing necessary progress – preparing the cervix to dilate – they are less likely to become anxious or discouraged that nothing seems to be happening. The other steps involve the fetus: the fetal head repositions during labor by flexing, rotating, and moulding to fit into the pelvis; and lastly, the fetus descends and is born.
Possible signs of labor
The most important of these is the first one:
Positive signs of labor
The most important of these is the first one:
Staying positive amidst pre- and early labor is important in the process of delivering your baby. Women progress in many different ways and your journey is your own pathway to forge for you and your baby. The hard work put into the process is well worth it. Just knowing the signs above can and will help in understanding when it is a good time to bring in your birth team, call your midwife, go to the hospital (or stay at home), and move forward in a positive and healthy manner.
Stayed tuned for more progression through labor and delivery, as well as some natural induction methods!
"We have no idea what we are doing..."
The moment a woman is pregnant, I SO wish she received a special download into her brain of all the things she needs to know going forward from this moment on. Wouldn't that bring such peace and understanding to the situation? Me, oh my!!
My Backstory: In 2010, I was a newly pregnant single woman on the verge of chaos, not knowing what my future would hold. Fear flowed through my entire body for days as I scrambled to read, research, and refine this new state of existence. So much to think about, so much to do!!!
Today: As a woman on the other side of pregnancy and birth, I am deep in the trenches of motherhood. I must be vulnerable with you and admit that on some days, I feel like "my self" has returned! And I can confidently conquer any animal cracker that gets thrown my way. I am Wonder Woman!! ->
But on other days, motherhood can be dreary, dreadful and downright powerless... when all I can do is lay on the couch with my kids and let them watch whatever they want for a few hours until nap and/or bedtime. This mommy'ing thing is TOUGH ladies!
Encouragement: I'm here to tell you that you are DEFINITELY not alone - Your child chose YOU to be their mom. That is saying A LOT considering they could have chosen anybody else in the world...but they wanted you to be their mommy. What a privilege and a blessing...
But let's be honest, LADIES --
We have no idea what we are doing.
Seriously! Us moms are just wingin' it and praying we don't don't cause too much damage to our kids. But take heart, dearest one. We are imperfectly human... In time, our grown-up children will understand that mom's human nature and love is what nurtured them to the best of mom's ability.
If I had a few TIPS to give you dearies, they would be the following:
(because I know ain't nobody got time for a long-winded blog) ---
1.) Use your breath to carry you through each day...hour...minute...second -- Breath is there to hold you, keep you level-headed, and secure. Use it often and deeply! Yoga with Adriene helps me connect to my breath.
2.) Use your intuition. TRUST that it will guide you. Ask your intuition for guidance, new perspective, anything! Like a mama muscle, intuition gets better and stronger with use -- it's your wise inner bestie!
In closing, I wish you beauties the Best and Highest Good and Blessings for you and your precious families.
Lastly: Just like traffic, so it is with raising littles --
There is chaos, impatience, and frustration but one thing remains: We are in this together..
Part 3: Let's bring this baby home!!
We have been diving into the three R's that all work wonderfully when done in sync with each other to ensure a peaceful childbirth experience.
We began with RELAXATION. Then we felt the RHYTHM. Now let's bring this baby home and discuss the last R:
Creating a ritual for birth is icing on the top of your baby's birthday cake. Ritual helps you sink deeper into Laborland, noticing the big picture rather than all the distractions, sensations and chaos around you. Here are some rituals that are catalysts for any birth.
1) Meditation & Prayer --
Question: What do the brains of a person in meditation and a woman in labor have in common?
Answer: Their brains are both in Theta.
Theta brain waves in the brain are exhibited when a person is in deep relaxation or mental imagery. In this stage, we also dream. This stage is just after Alpha waves, which are when we have a relaxed focus, increased seratonin production, and experience pre-sleep. During labor, it is best to optimize the stages between Alpha and Theta stages of brain waves.
We can do this through meditation or prayer. If you already have some type of similar practice, challenge yourself by calming your mind every day until baby arrives. You can also attempt your practice with distraction, like various noises around you that your mind can jump from one to the next (also called non-focused awareness). Another distraction is the ice cube contraction: hold ice tightly in your hands and time a minute contraction. Try different techniques during your ice contractions and see what helps you not focus on the intensity of the ice in your hand but on other things, like other sensations or breath.
Feel free to contact me for more tips on how to do this fun exercise!
2) Affirmations --
When you have positive affirmations showering you during labor, time seems to pass by and contractions have a purpose. It is easy for the mind to wander, thinking that something is wrong and that contractions are too painful to go on.
Affirmations are just sayings that have meaning to you. You can find them in books or come up with them on your own. I have clients write out affirmations on colorful notecards and stick them all over their laboring space. That way, when you need a word of encouragement, you don't need to ask for them. You can look around your room and find a message meant just for you.
You may check out Hynobirthing for Affirmations. They are sensational!
We live in a world where control is king. As women, we want to control the labor process, so we will read and research until our brains are numb. We create the ideal birth plan, hoping that much of it will happen the way that we want it to.
I want to be real with you ladies. The day your body decides to go into labor is the day you lose all control. Labor is all about surrendering! Surrendering to your body, your baby, and the process it is going to take to deliver a healthy and happy baby, and a new mama!
The one thing we can control in labor is our breath. Focus on the breath and learn some different breathing techniques for the stages of labor. Breath is paramount to maximizing those contractions to urge that baby down. Use what you have, YOUR BREATH, to your advantage.
4) Hire a Doula --
There are many evidence-based reasons for having a labor support person with you during your birthing experience. Doulas have the expertise to assist you with physical comforts, emotional support, and information. A doula provides a wealth of support that you wished you had. With all the up's and down's that labor entails, it is worth having someone in the room with you that has a calm demeanor and a sound mind to help you make informed decisions and make you feel safe during your journey through Laborland.
Final Thoughts --
If what you are seeking is a natural birth, and all you have is today to prepare for labor, I have only one piece of advice:
Ground yourself in love and let all the rest go.
Part 2: Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Rhyme!!
Childbirth practices around the world all seem to carry 3 similar traits. Some cultures lean on one of the three R's more strongly than others but in truth, they all work wonderfully when done in sync with each other.
Below are some tips that I have come to find as the most helpful. They all encompass the 3 R's in one way or another:
We began with RELAXATION (click to read the first blog post).
Get ready to "feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme!!"
1.) Music -- I am a strong believer in the power of music. Music does what words alone cannot do. It speaks to the heart. Find songs that incite joy, peace, harmony, love, and freedom for you. Make a playlist that speaks to you alone. If there is a special song that instill emotions that make you cry, this is especially helpful in those trying times of labor. When you feel like you just can't go on, request that song to push you through to your next labor surge. Crying is SOOOOO good for labor. It helps let go of whatever we are holding onto and it will help baby inside know that it is safe to come out. My song was "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. I had my baby within the hour of that song being played!
2.) Vocalize -- Ina May Gaskin says "The same energy that gets the baby in gets the baby out." In labor, we want to control the situation. But it's just not possible to control our bodies. The only way to cope is to let it out - vocalize and express what is going on inside. LOW and DEEP sounds encourage baby to descend. Normally, when we experience pain, we make high pitched noises. "Yipe! Ouch! S***!" This increases pain. In turn, singing is found be helpful for some women. Let it all out with ooo's, ahh's, moo's and horse lip sounds. Whatever else comes out WILL get baby moving. From a physiological standpoint, all OPEN orifices of the body make contractions more effective.
3.) Feel the Rhythm -- Creating movement in our bodies during labor is the single most effective way of hastening the birth of a baby. The most common problems with laboring women is that they don't move enough!! The more of a rhythm you create, the easier it is to focus on the hard work you are doing than the intensity you are feeling! So before baby arrives, get a birth/yoga ball and roll on it or lean against it on the floor, slow dance with your partner, walk, squat, lunge, do hip rolls, sway, and cat/cow that baby out. You'll be glad you did! I'm sure music can assist in feeling the groove as well...
Stay tuned for Part 3 very soon where we find out what the last R is!! Are you rrrrrrrrrready???
Part 1: Relaxation
Childbirth practices around the world all seem to carry three similar traits, known as the 3 R's. Some cultures lean on one of the R's more strongly than others but in truth, they all work wonderfully when done in sync with each other.
Below are some tips that I have come to find as the most helpful. They all encompass the 3 R's in one way or another:
Let's start with the first R: RELAXATION
1) Setting the stage -- Relaxation looks different from woman to woman. The key is to envision the most relaxing atmosphere that looks right for you -- and make your birthing room like it!
So let's create the ULTIMATE spa day for your birth experience!!
Here are some suggestions to make your birthing space a personalized spa:
a) Essential Oils - Lavender in an oil diffuser (add Wild Orange for an uplifting scent)
b) Dim Lighting and/or LED candles
c) Music - Calming like a spa or motivating like a workout. Whatever sets the mood for each stage of labor!
d) Comfy clothes - You really don't HAVE to wear those ugly gowns at the hospital. Your own cozy robe can help you feel at ease in a hospital or birthing center room.
e) Things that feel like home - Blankets, pillows, slippers, birth art, music, significant trinket, etc. Bring WHATEVER makes you feel most at home. This is YOUR space so make it your OWN. You'll be glad you did!
2) Touch -- A day at the spa wouldn't be complete without a massage now would it?!
You deserve some TLC during labor. Make sure your partner knows what you like and don't like beforehand. Practice techniques and positions that feel the most comforting to you. Soft touch that induces goosebumps increases seratonin and oxytocin, the happy hormones that keep labor progressing. Alternatively, firm pressure can ease those achy spots and feel grounding. Foot massages and acupressure are relationship savers!! Email me for a special handout for your significant other to do on you throughout your pregnancy and labor! Lastly, counter-pressure can ease back labor when nothing else can. It is the #1 mainstay support amongst laboring women.
3) Water -- What spa doesn't have a jet tub option?!
Also referred to ask the "Aquadural"-- it works wonders. Water has a calming effect on laboring mothers. There is just something about water. I have never heard any complaints about water in labor, whether it be by tub or shower. A water birth can have amazing results for minimizing tearing and having a very calm baby emerge.
4) Chiropractic -- Now the birthing team is complete!
A natural modality in healthcare, chiropractic care has been proven to short labor and assist baby in getting into an optimal occipital fetal position for birthing (occiput: head down facing mom's spine). Make sure your chiropractor practices the Webster technique in case of a breech or posterior positioned baby. They will know how to safely and gently turn the baby into a better position in the last weeks of pregnancy.
Speaking of baby's optimal fetal position, practice popular poses like hands and knees, yoga ball bouncing and moving those hips around.
Lastly, PLEASE don't rest in a reclining sofa or chair. The year of the La-z-Boy recliner was a momentous year for C-Section rates and posterior positioned babies.
Read more on posterior babies here: https://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/baby-positions/posterior/
There you have it! RELAXATION...Ahhhhh...Now go rest up and anticipate Part 2 to come very soon -- where we talk about RHYTHM.
Blessings to you all beautiful people!
We all know that childbirth can be a lot of things. Women experience it in a variety of ways. Ideally, we would all love to embrace the journey and come out on the other end triumphant and empowered by the thrill we just experienced. But just HOW does one power through the intensity of labor, with the grace of a gazelle and the strength of a lion??
Here are 7 tips to help you discover ways of surrendering to the tidal waves of labor and birth.
1.) Address anxiety
Everyone knows that anxiety can render someone in an emotionally catatonic state. During pregnancy, it can dramatically escalate. So find ways to understand where your anxiety derives and how to keep it at bay, even if it's just for the time being until you have a baby. There are many great resources out there for you to explore: counseling, support groups, Byron Katie YouTube talks, meditation, visualization, etc. Remember, anxiety is fear about the future and depression is fear about the past. The happy medium is right in the present moment. That's where you will find your answers within, in stillness.
2.) Root into affirmations and truth
Hypnobirthing is a common birthing method that includes birth affirmations. Customize them to make them yours. Write them on note cards and recite them every day until the big day. And then you can tape them around your laboring room for inspiration when you need it most. This will enhance the truth you find and know inside. Rooting into something positive and encouraging can be just what your mind, heart, and body needs to come out of labor and birth in a joyous way.
3.) Address fear
Oftentimes fear plays a big part in childbirth. What we must understand is that even though fear will never go away, we do have a choice of how much of it will play out in our lives. It will always be a battle to our dying day of choosing love or fear.
Have you ever had a conversation with fear? I do this exercise with clients who have a lot of anxiety. I will ask them to write a letter to fear and it helps in those stressful times. A letter may go something like this:
I know that we have had a long relationship with each other. Thank you for being there to keep me safe at times. I have appreciated your comments, whether they were true or not, and you have served a purpose in my life. However, during this special time in my life, you don't get to run the show. You may stay outside of my space for the time being and look from afar but you are NOT allowed to be part of this labor and birth. This is a joyous part of my life and I am looking forward to all of the love and surrendering I will be doing. You will not be needed at this time.
4.) Examine thoughts
Thoughts play tricky mind games on us. Fear lets us think many crazy things. Believe it or not, but those thoughts are NOT YOU. You are not your thoughts! We create suffering when we attach to our thoughts as if they were truth. But you get to decide what is truth because you have a beautiful choice with every thought.
When thoughts of failure come in, know that this is coming from a part of you that wants to sabotage your efforts. Think of them like voices from a bad little angel on your shoulder. Tell him "thank you for your comment", flick him off and start listening to the "good angel". Call her the Holy Spirit, intuition, your conscience, whatever she is to you. Any thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure of heart, and trustworthy are the ones to follow. TRUST that they will lead you where you need to go in labor.
This, my dearest, is mindfulness. And remember, practice makes perfect.
The voice you listen to most will win!!
5.) Address intimacy/vulnerability
Let's face it, birth is probably the most vulnerable time you will ever have in your life. Your body and heart are displayed out there for all to see. If you struggle with intimacy and vulnerability, as most of us do, I urge you to check out Brene Brown on YouTube or through her books. They contain an oasis of knowledge and truth for you to discover. I would love to expound upon vulnerability in a later blog because it deserves its own space. It is a wellspring to healing and extraordinary breakthroughs!
6.) Root into what creates peace
Prepare for birth by creating a spa-like atmosphere that works for you. What would you want on a relaxing spa day? Foot massage? Soft smells? Calm music? A beautiful scenery? The goal of a childbirth laced in letting go will consist of all of these and more. Seek out ways to make your ideal spa day possible for your baby's birth day. Your baby will thank you (eventually)!!
7.) Repear steps 1-6 until STILL
Having peace about your journey into motherhood is quite a feat in and of itself. Nobody is perfect and many times we will never fully get the experience we desire. But I love what Bobby Unser said, "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet."
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts about this blog post!! Shoot me a comment and let's start a conversation!!
Throughout pregnancy, women experience many different changes, aches, and discomforts. A most common symptom is tired feet. A lot of pressure is put on the legs and feet as baby gets heavier. Not only does the baby attribute to more weight gain but so does the maternal physiology and metabolism: water, amniotic fluid and blood accretion, uterine and placental growth, and breast and fat mass. This is enough to convince anyone that a woman's feet are substantially underrated and undernourished.
The feet are the foundations of the body. They have reflex points for every organ. Modalities like reflexology can stimulate and balance the body. In the case of pregnancy, the body is going through a lot of changes so a foot massage can be highly beneficial in staying grounded and balanced throughout the process of growing a baby.
Benefits include: Increased blood flow, energy, and rejuvenation, reduced swelling, released tension and an overall happier mama!
The following is a SAFE foot massage that can be used all throughout pregnancy and for labor. It is good practice for the partner to have a supporting role in labor. And for all you single mamas out there, you can do this to yourself sitting in a cross-legged position.
**One caution: there is an acupressure point between the inner *ankle bone and the Achilles tendon, which, when stimulated, may produce labor contractions. This should only be stimulated when a pregnant woman is in labor.**
You may use essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil if that is preferred. Be sure to mix the oils together on your hands before massaging the foot. Safe essential oils for pregnant women are: Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Ginger, Geranium, and Bergamot.
Foot Massage for Labor
First, position the foot so that it is supported for the woman's relaxation and for you to work comfortably.
1) Using the palm of both hands, use firm strokes to massage from the toes to the feet, all the way up to the calf, and lighter strokes to massage back down the calf to the feet and toes. Repeat at least 3x up and down.
2) Gently squeeze (not twist) the entire foot with both hands like you're squeezing water out of a sponge at least 5x. Count to 5 between each squeeze for blood flow to return. Just like a sponge when you squeeze out the water, you wait for the water to soak back into the sponge.
3) With your fingers on top of the foot, use your thumb to press into the spot just under the ball of the foot. Hold for about 10 seconds and let it go. Repeat this about 5x in the same way as the sponge technique.
4) Use your thumbs to make small circles on the bottom of the foot.
5) Use your knuckles to massage the instep/arch of the foot.
6) Use your fingertips to make small circles around the ankle bone* and top of the foot.
7) Use your fingertips or thumbs to stroke from the top of the ankle down between each toe.
8) Gently pull or wiggle each toe.
9) Use your thumb and side of your index finger to press down gently on the top of each toe and release, like you would when you click open a retractable pen.
10) Squeeze the top of the foot with both hands at least 3x.
11) Squeeze the bottom of the foot with both hands at least 3x.
12) Make a Hand-Foot sandwich: With your fingers pointing towards the ankle, use both hands to firmly "sandwich" the foot. Hold firmly to a count of five, then lighten the pressure and pull hands away slowly. Repeat at least 3x.
Ladies and Gents, let me know your thoughts and how I can help!
Did you try it?
Ladies, did you love it?
Partners, was your mama happy with your foot work? What can you do to make it more enjoyable?
2 1/2 c. flour