We're really excited to see you soon!
Prior to labor, please review this article about Labor Tips For Dads and Birth Partners, which recommends you practice timing contractions using the iBirth app. Revisit our blog for updates and ideas closer to your due date. If you are considering an induction of labor, please review these helpful reminders.
Start timing contractions using the app iBirth when you have noticed that the contractions are getting stronger/longer and closer together. If it is overnight, don't time contractions unless the intensity increases, and take a loooong bath and go back to bed (you may take several warm baths throughout early labor even if your waters break). Avoid the shower until you are at the hospital; taking a bath will relax your muscles better and allow us to time contractions better than if you are tense out of the tub.
While in bed resting, lay on your side and use lots of pillows between your knees and ankles and try to at least sleep between contractions (you may doze off but wake at peak of contraction). If pressure is felt in the lower back area, side-lying with pillows is fine but occasionally switching to a hands/knees-butt-in-the-air position can be very beneficial. Also, alternate between a heating pad and an ice pack every 20 minutes or so (place cloth between skin and pad/pack) if back pressure is present.
Sleep as much as you possibly can; conservation of energy is key since fatigue is the enemy of most labors. Labor will progress on its own and staying relaxed makes contractions more comfortable and allows you to sleep at least in between contractions.
Drink water, urinate once an hour (sit on toilet for at least 5 minutes every visit), eat fruit, and rest lots. If you have back pain, apply heat for 20 minutes and then switch to an ice pack for 20 minutes more - this confuses the nerves and disrupts the signals being sent to your brain.
When contractions are 5 minutes apart, about a minute long, and have been in this pattern for at least 1 hour, you likely will be around 3cm or so. Labor may fade or pick up around this point so stay in communication with your doula via text or voice and together, you will determine when is the best time to join you.
Be sure to call your primary doula when you need help/advice or wish to talk with her. (She may not wake if you text her.) If you call her and she doesn't answer, please leave a message, and call her again in 15 minutes. If she doesn't call you back within 15 minutes, please call your back-up/secondary doula.
What to do if your water breaks
If your bag of waters release, note the color and smell (collect on a pad, if necessary). Any green, brown or black is a sign of infection or meconium. If you see this, call your doula and create an action plan together. Remind her the result of your Group Beta Strep culture.
If the water is clear and smells clean (maybe like hay/straw), rest-up and conserve energy. Stay hydrated and urinate once every hour or two. Your contractions will likely start soon and create a regular pattern, so take it easy and maybe a warm bath (no showering!) to help you relax and soothe muscles.
We know it is very exciting for labor to start this way but please consider sleeping while you can or at least between contractions. Fatigue is the enemy of many labors!
Usually contractions will start within a few hours of your bag breaking but it may take longer. Rest while you can. If you stay moving, contractions may seem more intense and this can be tiring. Allow the contractions to increase naturally while you are sleeping/resting on your side.
Eating and Drinking In Labor
We encourage you to eat light, healthy, and easily digestible meals during early labor. We recommend salads, smoothies, soups, etc.
Typically, women aren't interested in eating too much during active labor but yet it is important for energy boosts. Recommended snacks are fruit pieces, honey sticks, applesauce, popsicles, etc.
In the 1940's, Dr. Mendelson reported that during general anesthesia, there was an increased risk of the stomach contents entering the lungs and potentially could lead to severe lung disease or death. Since the 1940s, obstetrical anesthesia has changed considerably, with better general anesthetic techniques and a greater use of regional anesthesia. Cochrane reviewed 3,130 women during labor in 5 studies and determined women should be free to eat and drink in labour, or not, as they wish. Read more here.
Pushing and Delivery Positions
For pushing and delivery, upright positioning helps the uterus contract more strongly and efficiently and helps the baby get in a better position to pass through the pelvis. X-ray evidence has shown that the actual dimensions of the pelvic outlet become wider in the squatting and kneeling/hands-knees positions (Gupta et al. 2012).
In comparison with non-upright positions, women who were randomly assigned to upright positions were:
- 23% less likely to have a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery
- 21% less likely to have an episiotomy
- 35% more likely to have a second-degree tear*, except when a “birth cushion” is used, in which case there was no additional risk of tearing
However, despite these proposed benefits of pushing in an upright position, most women in the U.S. give birth either lying on their backs (57%) or in a semi-sitting/lying position with the head of the bed raised up (35%).
Be sure to discuss your wishes and expectations with all members of your birth team. Women should push in any position they find comfortable – it is not necessary to be continuously upright or continuously lying down during the pushing phase. Learn more here.