When In Doubt, Breathe: A Doula's Mini Guide
Denial is your friend. Many women over-do it in early labour, and end up tiring themselves out, or going to the hospital too early and having interventions they had hoped to/may have, avoided otherwise. Continue on with your everyday routine for as long as you possibly can. Your labour will eventually reach a point where you can’t deny it any longer, and then is the time to start using your comfort measures.
Privacy, Security, & Warmth are the three most basic needs of all mammals, including labouring women. The exact meaning of each of these terms is defined by the mother herself. Make choices in your labour which reflect your own understanding of these words and feelings. Think like a mama cat.
Low & Soft & Open: keep your voice low/deep, your body soft/relaxed, and your whole self open to the possibilities of birth, so that you can break the cycle of fear-tension-pain before it takes hold.
If you are hoping for a natural/unmedicated vaginal birth:
keep your fluid - don’t allow your water to be broken artificially without weighing the risks vs benefits
keep moving in ways that feel good to you - don’t get stuck in one position for too long
keep nourished - take in whatever you need to stay nourished and strong in body, mind, and soul
Listen to your body, to your baby, to your intuition. Move and shift and breathe and bear down as feels right to you. If you have used medications which make it difficult to be in touch with your body in this way, you'll need to rely on the guidance of your caregivers. Avoid 'purple pushing' unless baby's wellbeing is in jeopardy.
Keep your baby close, skin-to-skin whenever possible, and rest. Many, if not most, postpartum difficulties can be soothed through the simple remedy of 24 hours in your own bed, with your baby, and someone else looking after the household details. If you're not able to spend this much time in bed set aside a smaller window of each time dedicated to this purpose.
Accept help. Customize Gloria LeMay’s fabulous list according to your own needs, and give a copy to any person who offers to lend you a hand.
Be gentle with yourself. Your body and your baby have undergone a remarkable journey together over the past 9 months, and it can take a while for things to shift into a new normal that you’re comfortable with. If you're concerned about how you are coping, please seek help - you can start here.
Sometimes, no matter how carefully we plan, prepare, and negotiate for birth - - things can take an unexpected turn. No matter what happens though…. No matter how quickly or slowly your birth unfolds…. No matter how small or large a change you have to make in your expectations and hopes for your desired birth experience….
Whatever happens…. When in doubt…. breath.
And in those rare moments when even your breath seems beyond your control, close your eyes and go to that deepest, stillest place within you where you very soul breathes. From this place, you can be all that your baby needs. From this place, you can be the very breathe of life for your baby and they will feel in every fibre of their being that they are loved.
When in doubt – breathe...