What do you REALLY need to know about having a baby?


A one-page guide by Vicki Elson, MA, CCE, www.birth-media.com

Think of a time when you amazed yourself.

A time when you did something you didn’t think you could do.  Did you…

…climb a hill? move out? graduate? stand up for yourself? survive troubles?

Now, think about how you did that.  Did you…

…have somebody nice to support you?  take it one step at a time?  have faith?

just do it?  let instinct take over?  just keep breathing? cry and keep going?

find a rhythm?  laugh?  sing? repeat words to yourself?  invent a ritual?

soften your body?  take a walk?  take a shower or bath?  be gentle with yourself?

Whatever helped you then might be a clue to what will work for you in labor.

Even if you plan to have an epidural, it’s a very good idea to figure out some ways to relax your body and mind and cope with pain, because:

Even with an epidural, you still have to work to push the baby out.

You might not get the epidural as soon as you want it.

Sometimes epidurals don’t work.

Even if the epidural is perfect, coping skills are great for life…life with kids!

You might find that you don’t need an epidural after all (it includes an IV & bladder catheter, & possibly longer labor, staying in bed, & potential side effects.)

Pain in labor is normal & healthy, even if it’s a totally unfamiliar new experience.

It comes in waves, with brief peaks and then longer painless moments.

Unlike other kinds of pain, there’s nothing to fix…and you get a prize at the end!

The stronger it is, the better it’s working.  Stay curious about what’s happening.

Pain stimulates hormones that are good for labor and good for the baby.

You will discover – and remember – how strong and brave you really are.

Pain and suffering are not the same thing.

Pain is just physical sensation.  Flow with it.  Suffering comes from thoughts.

Suffering is thinking that it shouldn’t be how it is.

Suffering is worrying that it will get worse or go on forever.

Suffering is feeling guilty or blaming somebody.

For now, let your body be in charge of your mind.  Stay curious!

Plan on these things:

Eat excellent food: colorful vegetables, wholesome proteins, whole grains. Sugar, grease, & white bread taste good but don’t nourish you or your baby.

Choose midwives or doctors who respect you and your wishes for labor.

Bring a nice labor companion to support you: partner, friend, relative, doula.

In consultation with your care providers, try to avoid interventions when they are not medically necessary. Learn the risks and benefits of: inducing labor, IV, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, drugs for pain, epidural anesthesia, pitocin, amniotomy, episiotomy, cesarean.

Stay upright and moving around as much as you can throughout labor.

Pushing: Don’t lie on your back. Follow your body’s urge to push.

Keep your baby with you, skin to skin with blankets on top, and breastfeed.

Get lots of help and support after the baby is born, and always.

Enjoy your baby!  Unconditional love from parents is the gift that lasts forever.

See also: “What REALLY Works For Labor?” blog and project.

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