By Stacey Avila
Hear me out for a moment, epidurals and active pain management for childbirth are not enemies. A birthing choice is individually made per the laborer and should always be supported. With this being said, knowledge is the solution to all fears.
When you were a child in bed in the middle of the night, You heard thunder and hid under the sheets. Your parents explained to you the scientific reason behind the scary noise and why it happens. Suddenly that fear background noise to your well-rested night.
Lack of knowledge and resistance towards childbirth education and optimal birth positioning as well as coping mechanisms will install fear-based Laboring/Birth decision making.
Your birth, your choice. Ask the questions you fear with your midwife at your next visit and register for childbirth classes whether birthing at the birth center or in a hospital setting.
Below we will talk about common fears when having a natural birth.
Birth is a natural and normal experience that your body is capable and designed to do. Knowing this it is still valid to have fears leading up to childbirth. These fears can be healthy if used to empower your childbirth experience by educating yourself and obtaining knowledge to be prepared.
Below are common fears asked by Birth Center Moms and answered by our head birth side Nurse Megan Jones –
1. I am worried I won’t be able to handle the pain.
This is such a common worry for all of those giving birth. Yes, Childbirth is uncomfortable. If it wasn’t, people would be going into labor and bringing their baby into the world while out shopping or at work. I view this pain as a signal for preparation and rest. It takes a lot of energy to go through labor. Our bodies have to go through so much change, but we were created perfectly to be able to do this. We just need to listen to our bodies.
There are things you can do to help manage pain. One way is rest. In early labor when you start having contractions, try to lay down and sleep or rest as long as you can. There will come a time where it is uncomfortable to lay on your side and sleep, so take advantage of the sleep time now. Being rested as you enter active labor and transition will help you cope with labor.
As you reach active labor and your body is telling you to move around. PLEASE MOVE AROUND! Change your position every 20 minutes or so. Doing lunges on your birthing ball, hands and knees on the bed or floor, rocking back and forth with your partner in the slow dance position. These are all great methods to help reduce pain.
Empty your bladder frequently, at least once an hour. This will help reduce that feeling of pressure and make room for the baby, as they descend.
Water Therapy! This can be in the tub or shower; at your house or at The Birth Center. Heat is relaxing and feeling the water hit against your back in the shower can be very soothing. The buoyancy of a tub can help your muscles relax. Please remember if you are ever in the water it is important to stay hydrated!
A positive mindset! When you feel these thoughts of fear start running in your head, change your frame of mind. Remember your strength and power!
Have supportive people around you. It is important to have a birthing team that is on the same page. A coaching team should be there to support your decisions, cheer you on. Being the support person can be a very hard job! It is hard to watch someone you love go through the process of birth. It can make you feel helpless, like there is nothing you can do to take the pain away. But, remember the process of birth is a normal part of life. Your job is to cheer the birthing person on and give words of encouragement. Offer water, remind them to empty their bladder, apply counter pressure, massage, give hugs, give supportive and encouraging words. Sometimes all they need to hear is “ You can do this!”
2. What if I tear?
Having gone through the birthing process multiple times myself (4 to be exact), I can say that in the moment of birth if there is tearing, you won’t feel it happening. You will feel burning as the baby is crowning, but you will not feel any sharp pain in your perineum.
We do many things to prevent tearing here at The Birth Center. In your birth room you will notice a crock pot, where we heat up water to use with wash cloths to make warm compresses. This will help as the baby is crowning to stretch your perineum. We also recommend perineal massage in the last few weeks leading up to birth; we will also use oils on your perineal during crowning. For those choosing a water birth, being in the warm water will allow for that tissue to stretch and reduce tearing.
Another great tip is listen to your midwife. As your baby is crowning, your body is going to want to push and get the baby out as quickly as possible. But the goal is to crown slowly, allowing the skin to stretch. Your Midwife will coach you through this time, telling you what you need to do.
3. What if I don’t make it to the birth center in time?
For most labors, there is warning time. It is not like the movies where it is a few contractions and then the baby is on the way. There will be many signs leading up to the big moment. You need to call your midwife once those contractions start getting regular and let them know what is going on; for people having their first baby we like to hear from you when your contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, and that’s been going on for an hour (4-1-1). For second, third, and more babies we usually have you check in a little earlier in your labor depending on how your previous birth(s) went. This is a great thing to discuss with your midwife at your prenatal appointments. After you call, you and your midwife will make an individualized plan to come into The Birth Center. We take into consideration your distance and personal circumstances, so every situation is different. If you have older kids at home, please make your childcare arrangements ahead of time!
4. What if I have a bowel movement while pushing?
Great!!! It means you are pushing correctly. Most birthing people do pass stool as they are having their babies. We clean you up quickly and as discreetly as possible, and you probably won’t even know it’s happened.
5. What if there is a complication in labor with myself or the baby?
Most commonly, birth is a healthy and normal event. All of our patients’ pregnancies are low risk and therefore less likely to have a complication. However, your Birth Center Team is prepared to handle emergencies if they happen. We do monthly article reviews and mini emergency drills, as well as quarterly large emergency drills. Your Nurses and Midwives are certified in NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program) and BLS (Basic Life Support). Many of our staff have further certifications and training in resuscitation such as S.T.A.B.L.E and ACLS. If a higher level of care is needed and we need to transfer to the hospital, we have a great relationship with Christiana Care, their OBGYN’s and NICU team. We have created pathways for ease of transfer in an emergency.
Below i will link our upcoming Childbirth Classes to help you prepare to birth without fear:
Optimal Birth Experience – January 19, 2022 –
Childbirth Full Series: Healthy Birth – December 30, 2021
Childbirth Education for the Planned Hospital Birth – January 11th, 2022
Hypnobirthing – January 3rd, 2022