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Episode 1: Three Ways to Prepare for Labor & Birth

birth prep labor May 14, 2021

I'll be posting weekly videos about preparing for birth, so let's get started! Welcome to Episode 1!

Today we'll talk about 3 things you can do to prepare for birth:

  1. Educate yourself (knowledge decreases fear)
  2. Practice labor coping strategies (not just learning them)
  3. Build your birth team (ensure you're in full alignment and have the support you'll need) 


Episode 1: Three Things You Can Do To Prepare for Birth

Hi, I'm Cara Lee. I'm at Brave Journey. I'm a birth doula and a childbirth educator. And I have committed to recording weekly videos about childbirth, preparing for childbirth. So welcome. This is week one. And today we're going to be talking about three things you can do to prepare for labor. Now I have printed off some notes for myself that I'll be referring to.

So you might hear them fluttering around here, but first let's get started. The three things you can do to prepare for labor one, educate yourself, , two, practicing labor coping strategies. Not just learning about them, practicing them and three, building your birth team. So we'll talk about the first one, education, first.

Education can help lessen your fear of the unknown. So if you feel fear going into birth, having an idea of what to expect can help lessen that fear. You will learn in a birth education , class or book, you'll learn what to expect. You'll learn the terms used during labor and birth.

You'll learn the normal birth process as well as medical procedures and medications that you might use. You'll also learn some of your choices in the birth room before you're in the throes of labor. So one of the hugest things about education is that you can learn all of this before you're in the heat of labor.

So options for education: read books, and I'm a reader, some people aren't. So if you're not a reader, you can find birth workers online that resonate with you. A lot of people are putting out really excellent content. I hope myself included, and you can find someone who you resonate with. And learn from them.

And then lastly, really most importantly, is attending a birth education class. So I'm building one right now. It'll be online, go at your own pace . So if you'd like to go to the link in my bio, you can sign up and put your email address in to be notified when registration opens for that.

But in the meantime, you might look into finding a doula or a childbirth educator in your area. And I will be really honest with you with that you get what you pay for. So the hospital classes are always more affordable, but the private classes run by childbirth educators and doulas and midwives tend to just be wildly higher quality, more information, and more emphasis on teaching you how to navigate the birth room and be an active participant in your own birth. Hospital classes tend to cover the basics of birth and birth anatomy and physiology, but they mostly focus on how the hospital policies work and less of an emphasis on how to be an active participant in that process.

So next: practicing. The second way to prepare for labor and birth is to practice labor coping strategies. So coping strategies help you focus more on the very what's going on in your labor and the various activities and positions you're in rather than the pain and the sensations during labor, labor coping strategies can also help you reinterpret how you are interpreting this pain and sensation.

Physical sensation in labor doesn't mean that something is wrong. It's very different than having broken your finger or stubbed your toe, which is when pain is telling you something is wrong and pain is telling your brain that the body needs to be careful and take care of that space. Pain in labor is a little bit different pain is saying: pay attention. This process is essential. Pain is also saying that the labor is happening. And if we can reinterpret that each really strong, effective contraction is actually bringing that baby closer to being born that can really make the sensation and the interpretation of labor. Very different.

There are lots of different examples of coping strategies. These can include relaxation strategies, breathing patterns, massage, swaying, never underestimate the power of standing and swaying during labor. It's often a very, very commonly helpful tactic or strategy. Rhythmic motion. Vocalization moaning, deep moans can be hugely helpful. And in particular certain positions can just feel fantastic during labor. And it's really funny because a position that feels really good in the beginning when baby is in a higher position, can feel terrible later on and a different position later on can feel fantastic. So it changes as the labor progresses. And music and sounds and creating a really comforting environment can have a positive impact on your coping.

So there are ways to practice this and prepare so prenatal, yoga and prenatal exercise classes are actually really effective. And I'm biased because I also teach prenatal yoga, but in prenatal, yoga and prenatal exercise classes, you're moving your body and inviting sensation in your body and then navigating ways that you can breathe and notice sensation and move in different ways. And become very mindful about ways to work with sensation in your body. It's also an excellent way to really connect with your changing body. As you're, as you'll notice during pregnancy every week, you feel really different and exercise and movement and walking. Everything can feel wildly different one week to the next.

And if you live a busy life, like many of us do, a weekly check-in or more than weekly, but regular exercise, regular yoga regular mindful movement can really help you connect with that shifting in your body. Also your birth class should include labor coping practice: that can include practicing positions.

Every good birth class will include something like this, but also I was trained by Birthing From Within. And so I use ice in my classes, and this is a very typical tactic of Birthing From Within for teaching labor coping practice. Ice simulates the sensation of discomfort. Holding ice is not going to really, really hurt us, but it is uncomfortable after a minute.

And we can practice how we think about the pain. Stories we tell ourselves about the pain. And then different ways that we can breathe or move or have our birth partner massage us that make the pain field very, very different. So that's a very good way to practice. Also books on preparing for labor will absolutely have sections on labor coping practices. So definitely use those.

So we've got the first thing to do to prepare for birth and labor is to educate yourself and your birth partner. The next thing you can do is to practice labor coping strategies, not just learning about them, but practicing them. And then the last thing you can do is to build your birth team.

And to be honest, this is one of the most important and highly impactful elements of preparing for birth. You really have to get to know, really get to know your medical care team and their entire team. So if you love your midwife or your OB, but they're in partnership with an, an OB or midwife that you don't resonate with quite as much, or, or perhaps is somebody you actively would rather not birth with really pay attention to that.

Prenatal appointments are the time to ask the pointed questions. So as you do your education , you will find that there are certain things that you value that are important to you about your birth and only you know what those are. Don't let anybody tell you, but what you need to do then is take that knowledge and that growth and some of these values that you're learning about yourself and then talk to your medical care provider about them. So having these conversations, will give your medical care provider.

What I would hope would happen is you can ask a question about something that you find that you value, and you're trying to find out what your care provider's perspective is on it. And then your care provider will warmly listen to your perspectives and will either say, "absolutely. I agree with you. This is a value of mine as well in the birth room. Here's when it goes really well. And here are some times where we may not be able to share that value", whatever it is.

But you also may have the negative experience of sharing something that's important to you and asking what your care provider's perspectives are on it and have them really diminish your concerns, minimize invalidate, say, "oh, that's not a big deal. Everybody's who's learning about that doesn't know what they're talking about." And unfortunately that's not uncommon. So if you find that your care provider is treating you like that go shopping. Find another care provider.

And I'm just being really real with you.

Asking these questions most of the time, you're going to get a warm response. But if you're not, if you're getting invalidated- and even if your care provider disagrees with you, they should do you the honor of telling you why they disagree with you in their professional opinion, with their expertise, which is why you've hired them to help you have your baby.

They may disagree with something you read on the internet. Probably, right? Dr. Google is not always right. So what you want to see is that they will explain that to you kindly and respectfully and take the time to explain it to you rather than invalidate you if they disagree or perhaps they 100% agree.

So let's see labor support. Additionally labor support can include your birth partner or a birth doula or both. Labor birth partners are maybe your partner or your spouse, or a close friend or family member, but somebody who is willing to take birth classes with you, prepare for birth with you and attend your birth to support you.

A doula is a trained professional. So, doulas provide emotional, physical comfort during labor. They may remind you of your options and support your choices. Well, they should support your choices. Doulas can strengthen the experience for the partner too, because the doula coaches, the partner, the birth partner, in the best labor support for the moment, which the labor partner's inexperienced, they're not going to necessarily know that.

Obviously as a birth doula, I'm super biased. So let's be clear, you know, who your source is on this. But I really only became this way after I had a doula at my first birth and my partner, my spouse, and I were really on the fence about it. And we were so glad we had a doula and then I became a doula myself. Also there's tons of data and evidence supporting the beneficial impact of doulas. It's very, very data driven. So maybe I'll consider that for a future topic for future video.

Thank you for hanging out this long. And I, like I said, I'm committing to trying to make these and put these out there weekly.

So let me know what you thought. Let me know if you have any questions or ideas for future topics. You'd like me to talk about. And also if you'd like to get on the wait list for my online birth education class that I'll be releasing as soon as I can get it finished and there's hours to go. So feel free to find another birth education class in the meantime.

But if you'd like to be notified when I open registration, you can click the link in my bio and put your email address in there. And pretty soon I'll have a pretty website up there, but right now it's just a coming soon page. Anyways, comment, let me know what you're thinking. Thank you.


Free Birth Plan Templates

While you can't 'plan' birth, creating a Birth Preferences document in collaboration with your OB or Midwife will help you get to know your care provider, learn your birth facility options, and practice being an active participant in your birth experience.

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Download "Birth Bag Packing List and Mini-Class"

This birth bag packing list pdf and mini-class video shows you what to pack for your birth and how to set the tone in your birth room.

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