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For women planning a home birth since early in their pregnancy, or through a desire late in pregnancy to be in the comfort of their own home, planning for a home birth can seem exciting.  However, for families that might need to make a quick change of plans due to fear of their desired birth location, changing your birth team and environment might feel overwhelming.  Here are some tips to guide you through preparing for a home birth no matter which path led you here.

GET HEALTHY TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Being healthy for home birth is quite ideal.  Birth at home is safe when the woman birthing at home is healthy.  There is no technique, skill, knowledge, or care provider that can make birth safer than the woman herself.  Home birth is statistically so safe because the women birthing at home have been, by default, some of the healthiest women in the population as someone unhealthy to birth at home is risked out if their lifestyle cannot change to improve their overall wellness.  Even the medications used to treat complications only buy time for the body to do what it was designed to do, and the nutrients and environment provided throughout and after the birth are at the base of healing.  This is up to women to eat well balanced, eliminate non-nourishing foods and other chemicals, and to live a movement-based lifestyle with reduced fear.

  • Eat an ample portion of dark leafy greens at every meal
  • Eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruits throughout the day
  • Drink at least 2-3 quarts of water and/or herbal tea (such as red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, and nettles) daily along with hydrating foods
  • Take supplements where you’re lacking, and be sure they’re bioavailable to your body
  • Walk an average of 3-5 miles daily (throughout the day, even if this is through your daily chores)
  • Stretch throughout the day, change positions, and get bodywork (even if this is a basic massage by someone in your family)

KNOW HOW TO DO A BASIC PRENATAL ASSESSMENT

Knowing signs and symptoms to watch for through pregnancy and birth can help you know when it is truly necessary to seek additional care.  For a detailed explanation of how to perform these basic prenatal care assessments and normal ranges, read THIS POST.

  • Your blood pressure should be balanced. You will likely feel off if it is not.
  • Your pulse should be calm. Hydrate if it is not, seek additional support if this does not balance it.
  • Your temperature should be normal during pregnancy.
  • Your baby should grow about a centimeter each week. Sometimes, baby’s position changes this measurement, but the measurement should be within 2 weeks +/- of the week of pregnancy you are currently.
  • Your urine should be clear to pale yellow.
  • Your bowel movements should be easy and smooth and a minimum of once daily.
  • You should not have swelling that doesn’t subside with rest or a change of activity.
  • Your baby should be moving well after you’ve started feeling movements and reacting to you stimulating them if you palpate your belly.

REDUCE FEAR TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Fear causes tension.  Tensions causes pain.  Pain causes fear.  Fear increases blood pressure and pulse.  Fear increases adrenaline and stresses mom and baby.  Explore your fears and find the information that helps to allay them.  If you are preparing for home birth that you are not fully desiring, this is especially important.  (This approach is the same for preparing for any birth anywhere, as fear is one of the biggest factors outside of wellness that contribute to complications in birth).

  • Practice relaxation techniques that help you to stabilize your breathing
  • Read positive birth stories and remind yourself that birth is normally safe (even when moms are not at their ideal health)
  • Most birth variations have multiple approaches that a few basic skills, or herbs, can remedy – learn them DOWNLOAD BIRTH COMPLICATION BASIC MANAGEMENT.
  • The less we rely on others to “take care of us” or have the answers, the more confident we become. Learn – no matter where you’re planning to birth – so your fear is a non-issue
  • Learn comfort techniques like walking, swaying, rhythmic movements, birth balls, hip squeezes, how to move baby’s position, and so much more. These can be learned through Birth Classes, or in-home prenatal care.  These options are available virtually, as well.
  • Take the Esali Birth Labor & Birth Overview course for a quick run-through of expectations of labor progression and tips for pregnancy and postpartum, or the complete Esali Birth Online Birth Class for more thorough information

 

GATHER SUPPLIES TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Basic home birth supplies can help your home birth be more comfortable and provide you with tools in case labor doesn’t take a straight forward path.  Most of the supplies you’ll need are around the house, and a few a midwife can provide.  It is helpful to have all your supplies together in one location no later than 36 weeks.

  • Prenatal Records (lab results, prenatal care notes, vital sign baselines, list of allergies, back-up provider information, and any other details about your desires that would be beneficial to anyone supporting you – including a birth guide for your desires of how to be cared for)
  • Towels & Wash Cloths
  • Package of Underpads or absorbent material to place wherever you are during labor and birth
  • Sturdy Plastic Sheet to cover and protect your bed in case you birth there
  • Nettles & Red Raspberry Leaf tea (or chlorophyll), High-Quality Grape Juice, and anti-hemorrhage herbs if you can get them (though nipple stimulation and your placenta/cord/membranes can be used in lieu of these herbs)
  • A long clean string, clean crocheted cord tie, or sterile cord clamp. DON’T cut the cord routinely after birth.  Wait until the cord is white and the placenta has been birthed!  This is only for if the cord snaps or in a rare case the cord has to be cut early.
  • Nourishing, easily-digested, foods. Fruits, soups, dark leafy greens, protein, broths.  For you and anyone that might be supporting you.

For a full list of supplies for optimal comfort, DOWNLOAD HOME BIRTH SUPPLY LIST

KNOW YOUR BIRTH SUPPORTERS FOR HOME BIRTH

There are so many people throughout our communities with wide ranges of knowledge about natural childbirth.  Many mothers that have planned home births in the past.  Doulas that have supported home birth (which is a bit different than supporting birth in the hospital).  Midwives and their assistants that have cared for women from pregnancy, birth, and postpartum – as well as provided routine checks on baby.  Have a list of people you can call for phone or video support if you plan (or need) to be alone.  Find a provider – the sooner the better.  If you wait too long in your pregnancy, a provider may not be available.  Likewise, a large part of the support a provider gives during labor is from learning about you and your baby during pregnancy.  The more time they have to do this, the more care they can provide.  If you’re considering home birth because of world changes like COVID19, waiting until the last days of your pregnancy to make a decision might decrease the safety of preparing to birth at home.  You can start receiving in-home prenatal care, learn techniques for self-prenatal care in case the home birth caseload for providers significantly increases, and learn techniques for birthing unassisted should the worst-case scenario occur.

SMILE, LOVE, & LIVE LIFE

While planning for a less-than-ideal birth might increase panic, once you become comfortable with your knowledge, these fears will subside.  Make the majority of your day focused on positivity, centering yourself, prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods, spending time with family, and going about your daily routine.  Women have birthed babies in far worse circumstances with joy and love and health over many centuries.  The health and happiness of birth is on your side.  Use the last weeks of your pregnancy to be amazed by your incredible body and how wonderfully it has been created.

 

If you would like more guidance on home birth, self-prenatal care, birth classes, education on birthing unassisted, reach out!  My virtual office is open to those outside my radius and support for my local community is available.

Hydration during labor is very important.  Hydration in labor feels good.  Hydration in labor keeps us safe.  Hydration in labor nourishes baby.  Hydration in labor prevents complications.  Hydration in the form of commercial sports drinks...  meh, not so good.

So, what's the alternative?  Fortunately, there are a lot of natural commercial drinks available, but they can be pricey.  Furthermore, the key is to go into labor already well hydrated, with a little bit of puffiness that you've been building up for the last weeks.  No, of course we don't want excessive swelling, but our ability to retain water at the end of pregnancy is a very good thing.  We basically build up our own IV fluids so we don't have to have actual IV fluids during labor.

Getting moms to actually be as hydrated as they should be is a different story.  Nevermind the scorching hot environments many women experience where no matter how much fluids we built up during pregnancy, we're going to need to replenish them a whole lot more and may add a little extra elecrolyte balance in with nutrients and added natural salts.  An herbal laboraide drink is super inexpensive to make, fun, and if you get some really cute silicon molds, you can make absolutely gorgeous ice cubes that you simply want to use just because they make you happy. Score for #TheOxytocinMethod.

I love this drink so much my kids and I make it as a summer picnic tea.  It is gentle like that.  This labor herbal electrolyte tea packs a powerful nutritive punch full of natural Vitamin C, but gentle enough to soothe cramps and calm a laboring mother.

HIBISCUS

Hibiscus is the beauty in this blend.  This is what gives the breathtaking wine color that few herbal plants can create, which also has a lovely tang when unsweetened.  It can also resemble a nice herbal fruity drink with a smidge of whole leaf stevia or honey added.  Oh my YUM.

Nutritionally, hibiscus is an excellent source of Vitamin C and antioxidants including anthocyanins (the flavonoid that gives blueberries their brain-boosting benefits).   Evidence also suggests it is beneficial at lowering blood pressure, making it a wonderful drink for the immune system and perinatal health.

RED RASPBERRY LEAF

We all know Red Raspberry Leaf.  It has been used for centuries during the childbearing years.  Red Raspberry Leaf has a mild herbal flavor and provides many nutrients required for muscle function including iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, and other minerals that make uterine contractions efficient (as do all nutritive foods).

STRAWBERRY LEAF

Strawberry leaf, like Red Raspberry Leaf and all the other plants in the rose family, is high in fragarine.  This is the chemical thought to provide Red Raspberry Leaf with its labor-supportive abilities.  As herbalists, we know it is so much more than one constituent.  Strawberry leaf is high in Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and other minerals and flavonoids.

NETTLES

Nettles, like all dark leafy greens, packs a powerful nutritive punch.  While nettles is normally my go-to, because of its strong herbal flavor, we can use a little less of it in this blend and let the other herbs shine through.  A little goes a long way with nettles and it is wonderful for supporting anemic mothers, and is high in Vitamin K, so a wonderful herb to have on hand in case of hemorrhage.

LEMON BALM

Lemon balm is very gently calming.  It is a common child's-herb, and as such, works beautifully for a laboring mom to calm the muscles without slowing anything down unnecessarily.  We know a tight cramped muscles doesn't contract well, even though it is in a somewhat constant state of flexion.  A muscle needs to be smooth and flexible to remain strong, and lemon balm gives us just that.  It can help to balance the emotions of a laboring mom and has a very slight lemon flavor that blends well with these other laboring herbs.

 

These herbs are blended up along with either whole leaf stevia (yes, the whole leaf, not the extracted white stuff or drops) or good raw honey.  The sweetness makes this really enjoyable to sip on without being distracting.  The whole blend is light, just a touch of flavor is all we need.  Alternatively, honey makes a great energy boost when mom just needs to keep on going but its not really a great time to nap.  A pinch of Pink Himalayan sea salt helps with hydration as a well rounded electrolyte drink.

 

Transformaide Herbal Electrolyte Drink

2 Parts Hibiscus Flower

1 Part Red Raspberry Leaf

1 Part Strawberry Leaf

1 Part Nettle Leaf

1 Part Lemon Balm

Whole Leaf Stevia or Honey to taste (optional)

Pinch of Pink Himalaya Sea Salt per cup of water

Blend all the dried herbs together.  Use 1 tablespoon per cup of water, or 1/4 cup of the herb per quart of water.  Pour just-simmering water over the herbs, cover, and let steep at least 10 minutes.  I recommend making this in a 1 quart jar with a drinking lid screwed on top.  Once this is steeped it can be drank as is, or poured into silicon ice cube trays and frozen.  They can be eaten as ice cubes, or ice pops, or popped into a glass of water for a light flavor.

The ice cubes make a great addition to your labor bag no matter where you're birthing.  You can freeze them days (weeks) in advance and seal them up in a really good insulated carrier and just pop them in your labor bag when you're off to the hospital (or for doulas, when you go to meet a client).

So, grab a cup... or a quart jar... and let's have a drink!

Motivational Tea Scrolls can be printed free, clipped, and added to each cup of herbal tea (or your favorite relaxing drink) for daily inspiration.  Various formats from quotes, tip, scripture...etc., plus new additions regularly, will keep your daily cuppa inspirational for pregnancy, motherhood, and beyond.

Add motivational tea scrolls to gifted tea blends for blessingways, baby showers, and postpartum gift boxes.  Print these out for your loved one (scrolls for mom and dad) to give them a surprise moment with every glass.

 

mans guide to birth esali birth

Man's Guide to Birth is member's only resource; a guide for dads and birth partners through pregnancy, birth, and the first months of parenting. This short and to the point guide for men will help you to better support a pregnant and laboring woman and understanding your needs as a birth partner and father.  The Man's Guide to Birth is easy to navigate on your phone and makes a great bathroom reader for pregnancy.

Man's Guide to Birth Includes:

  • Fertility and Conception Tips
  • Nutrition and Wellness Tips
  • Pregnancy Discomfort Relief Tips
  • Emotional Guidance for Dads
  • Emotional Guidance for Dads supporting Moms
  • Birth Partner Tips
  • Labor Comfort Tips
  • Unassisted Emergency Birth Tips
  • Breastfeeding Tips
  • Newborn Health Tips

Join the Free Birth Community!

The Esali Birth Perinatal Pocket Guide is member's only resource; a pocket doula guide for pregnancy, birth, and the first weeks postpartum.  This easy to navigate pregnancy guide can be easily viewed on your phone or printed on index cards.  The labor guide is a great labor bag reference for dads, birth partners, and doulas.

Perinatal Pocket Guide Includes:

  • Prenatal Wellness Tips
  • Baby Alignment Tips
  • Pregnancy Discomfort Remedies
  • Pregnancy Belly Mapping Tips
  • Early Labor Tips
  • Early Labor Progression Tips
  • Active Labor Tips
  • Active Labor Progression Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Progression Tips
  • Placenta Uses
  • Unassisted Emergency Birth Tips
  • Breastfeeding Latch Tips

 Join the Free Birth Community!

perinatal doula mentoring esali birth

Private Perinatal Doula Mentoring is the Future of Birth Education

Is doula mentoring or taking a birth class series more beneficial for birth education?  Obtaining information about the birth industry, the physiology of birth, and your options for a happy healthy birth is a well known step during pregnancy.  But, are birth class series a thing of the past?  Lamaze was so popular it is a household name for birth classes and taught in numerous hospitals across the world.  Bradley Method came in strong for empowering families to make choices that supported the birth they want.  Now birth education and doula organizations are around every corner and parents are wondering if they should take a class or hire a doula.  What differences are really being made here when we're seeing decreases in perinatal health, rises in cesareans, and more moms experience breastfeeding and postpartum difficulties despite the increase in big organization one-size-fits all approaches, even to natural childbirth.  I want to present you with the new holistic approach to perinatal care.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is a one-on-one approach to the modern family.  Researching the plethora of options available to you as an expecting mother, or father, can be overwhelming to say the least.  Fitting in a sit-down class of information being thrown at you after you've worked an 8+ hour day, went to the gym, spent time with your family, and tried to get an hour of down time can be exhausting.  You know there are professionals out there trying to blog all the must-knows, but you just don't have the time or energy to read through every little detail and double check the studies.  You want to make your time count and you want to find the person that specializes in having well-rounded information and resources.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring is right for you, and geared towards millennials, meme-driven social media fans, and your typical modern family.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Individualized

Well of course I would love for you to sit through 20+ hours of birth classes and learn everything there is to learn about the basics of birth and all the remedies to labor variations and every single thing the modern birth industry might throw at you.  The truth is, psychology makes your brain lose interest on just about anything pretty quickly.  Your brain gets hyperfocused, though, on a few certain things you're experiencing right now or have been planted in your head in the past.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring means finding answers and support for those very specific questions when you need it.  After a prenatal appointment.  In the evening when a thought comes to you.  Not an hour into a birth series with five (or more) other couples, but whenever you want to ask.  Get your questions answered for your specific birth with #MOVdoula of Esali Birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Modern

Many birth series don't update their material after their initial "method" is developed.  Moreso, most birth series are focused on a standard set of information over a standard number of days and because most classes are group classes, deviating from the standard is difficult.  Perinatal doula mentoring with Esali Birth allows your one on one time with your doula to maximize on all the questions you have, and still have access to all the perinatal education series stuff in a virtual format available 24/7 so you can research and learn to your hearts content whenever and wherever you want.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Full Service

Many birth professionals only focus on one area of the childbearing years.  Antenatal doulas, birth doulas, birth education, postpartum doulas, lactation.  While there is a time for specific focuses, the childbearing years throughout history have been best experienced with the wise people of the culture passing down knowledge from generation to generation.  With Esali Birth perinatal doula mentoring, you're taken care of from questions and emotional care from TTC and pregnancy through labor discomfort and informed decisions as well as the postpartum stages and breastfeeding.  You have someone that you create a relationship with through the childbearing years.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring Creates Happy Healthy Births

Full Service Perinatal Doula Mentoring builds trust.  Trust builds oxytocin.  Oxytocin creates comfortable progressing labor.  Oxytocin balances the risks during labor and postpartum and breastfeeding.  Oxytocin is the key to Happy Healthy Birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring Avoids Awkward Conversations with Strangers

Perinatal Doula Mentoring can feel more relaxed as you communicate with one person well versed in the industry that knows the ins and outs of the good bad and in between of the childbearing years through a non-judgemental approach.  While traditional group birth classes create the opportunity for you to meet other families experiencing the same event and you can learn from the questions they have, they're not the right fit for everyone.  Many communities, Mid-Ohio Valley included, have great regular meetups for pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding making an amazing opportunity to meet other people with questions just like you in the same stage of life (and beyond).

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Flexible

Learn about birth and allay your fears on your own schedule with a perinatal doula mentor that is focused on meeting your personal needs.  Day jobs can be long stressful intense hours, shift work means one person isn't available at a regular time every week, and real modern life means a lot of activities on the schedule.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring with Esali Birth is flexible, meeting you when it fits in your schedule even virtually.  Topics can be completely customized to this pregnancy, this moment in time, and the questions you want answered at this stage.  Doula mentoring can happen in the morning, afternoon, evening, weekends, randomly, and spaced out through each trimester.  Mentoring can also happen routinely, even part of the time, and we can start with a set standard and veer off the path any time a thought pops in your head.  This emergent style approach is known to be more thorough and remembered because it follows your lead for the desires you have now, creates a lower stress environment because now the Perinatal Doula Mentor is meeting your needs instead of you trying to cram everything in to meet the needs of a standard birth class.  This is how we reach more families, make bigger impacts, and improve happy healthy birth for more modern parents.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is #StackYourLife

This flexible, emergent-style, approach can be easily blended in a Walking Birth Class approach.  No more having to sit on the floor labor breathing (but we can do that if you'd like), we can meet at the park or at the mall, over dinner, or while putting together your nursery and postpartum care pack.  We can learn relaxation, positions, and comfort measures anywhere... your own special space or normal daily life, which is more the reality you'll find yourself in during labor anyway.  You don't have to fit this extra activity in,  because perinatal doula mentoring can happen anywhere it is convenient for you during any activity you already need to do.  Then you reduce your schedule, you get your movement in, you get your social time, and you learn about birth options - #stackyourlife.  An Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentor can help you finish up your nesting, make dinner for your family, go shopping, walk at the park, stretch and move, take care of your kids, and do all the things you have to do during normal life WHILE answering your questions and providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions for birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Affordable

With the traditional birth class approach, couples are spending money on a birth class, then they are spending money on a doula, then they are spending money on breastfeeding consultants, then they are spending money and time to get away from other must-do activities.  Having an Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentor provides you with birth education, emotional support, labor doula care, postpartum care, breastfeeding guidance and birth counseling all in one package.  You improve your opportunity for a happy healthy birth by creating more trust and a stronger relationship with your birth team, and you can invest in this holistic approach without needing to research and negotiate with multiple different professionals.  Many insurances, even some medicaid, and FSA/HSA and other health spending accounts cover doula care which, with a perinatal mentor, includes birth classes and breastfeeding counseling.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring Improves Birth Team Relationships

When you meet someone that can provide you with all the aspects of perinatal care including TTC counseling, birth classes, researching, emotional support, labor doula care, postpartum care, breastfeeding counseling, and birth counseling, the trust that is created is strong.  You're more likely to reach out to someone that knows your story.  You're more likely to reach out to a perinatal doula mentor that understands multiple aspects of the perinatal stages.  You're more likely to provide details that improve the way the doula can support you through labor and all the childbearing stages.  Trust increases oxytocin.  Oxytocin increases spontaneous labor and labor progression.  Oxytocin balances the risks during labor and postpartum and breastfeeding.  Oxytocin is the key to Happy Healthy Birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is for Dads Too

While many dads are highly involved in the childbearing stages in our modern life, traditional birth classes don't always meet their individual needs.  Many dads are hesitant to open up in a traditional group birth class.  Many dads really need information that caters specifically to their emotional needs during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring guides dads to support mom through these stages with to the point information, but also provides them with guidance on the reality that this can be a difficult experience for dads as well and they can't just be told to be strong and suck it up for mom.  Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentoring helps them find resources, supports them through the labor with guidance of support techniques, shows them how to help mom, and teaches them to care for themselves as well and reach out to outside support instead of trying to manage everything.  Dad is often the main one that will be supporting in the postpartum stages, and they are susceptible to depression and PTSD as well.  In addition to this same individualized support for dads, a Perinatal Doula Mentor with Esali Birth provides Man 2 Man classes that are specific for, and only for, dads.  Whether that is one on one with a dad that has been there before, or over a beer at the bar with the guys, a Man 2 Man class gives dads the opportunity to talk about the real questions they want to ask without judgement.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is More than Education

Moms need more than just information on the birth industry and knowledge of how to make informed decisions.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring can support you with the information you've been given at prenatal appointments, and through symptoms you may be experiencing.  An Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentor can help you with stretching, movements, and active techniques that prevent labor discomfort as well as remedy these individual circumstances.  More than a basic prenatal yoga class or a standard set of exercises, perinatal doula mentoring can help baby get into a good position through abdominal massage, belly mapping, Spinning Babies techniques, and knowledge gained through experience of many mothers that have come before you.

#MOVdoula Perinatal Doula Mentoring

While group birth classes in a traditional, yet more comprehensive than other birth classes, will always be an option, Perinatal Doula Mentoring is the way most birth education is happening now with Esali Birth.  (Although, this same exact approach can be used with group classes, too, especially when it is a group of people that already know each other and want to receive care together for even just a few sessions).  Moms don't have time, and are often overwhelmed, with mom group variety answers, their friends' and family's advice, and all the blog posts and books thrown at them every time they have a twinge or fear.  Let's move past all the overwhelm and meet you where you are now with all the information and resources when they are needed.  With 10 years of experience, let me answer your questions without telling you to do more work than you already are.  You know you need to research, that's why you're asking the questions.  With the knowledge of traditional birth classes vs. the real support I can provide through Perinatal Doula Mentoring, let me give you all the same information on a schedule and in a location that caters to you.  Think of it as pampering, or just a super educated best friend.  Let #MOVdoula do the work so you can just breathe and just enjoy your Happy Healthy Birth.

A doula perinatal mentor is like your best friend.  Remember that love you had growing up with a friend that would listen to all your stories, ideas, and imaginary worlds you snail-mailed to each other?  Remember when you were sad, and she gave you a hug?  Remember when you had a question, and she'd help you find the answer?  A doula is your best friend through the childbearing years with an inside scoop about the modern birth industry and your amazing body.  Not every doula practices the same way, but an Esali Birth Perinatal Mentor strives to encompass all of the needs of the childbearing years through knowledge, skill, and networking.

What does a doula do?  What DOESN'T a doula do?

What a Doula Does

  1. Tells you her personal abilities to support YOU through whatever stage of birth you're experiencing
  2. Doesn't pretend to be superwoman, but offers you love and guidance through your personal birth experience
  3. Massages your feet, hands, face, and whatever will make you feel better
  4. Walks with you prenatally providing informational and emotional guidance
  5. Provides education and support that encourages you to make informed decisions
  6. Seeks to build your confidence so you can become aware of your personal power, knowledge of yourself, and capabilities as a mother or father
  7. Understands the birth industry and hurdles you may have to cross, and helps you navigate these paths
  8. Offers physical guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  9. Offers nutritional guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  10. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through happy healthy birth
  11. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through postpartum and parenting
  12. On call 24/7 (not just after 37 weeks and not just for active labor)
  13. Helps you find answers to questions and may perform many hours of research for clients
  14. Looks over your food journal to help see where you could improve from timing of eating to what you're ingesting
  15. Finds time for you and your family's needs
  16. Goes with you to the grocery store to help select healthy balanced food items
  17. Help you prep for postpartum by blending herbal baths, stocking your pantry, and packing your labor bag
  18. Reviews your birth guide (birth plan) for language, efficiency, and necessities to help you communicate with your birth team
  19. Networks with area professionals to help maintain a positive image in the community that will reflect on your birth experience
  20. Leads birth comprehensive birth classes that help you become aware of ALL your options for ALL births
  21. Leads perinatal comprehensive classes that help you become aware of ALL your options from pre-conception through postpartum and early parenting
  22. Can drive with you to long distance prenatal appointments to chat about what you want to talk about, and help you reflect on your prenatal appointment after it has occurred
  23. Provides consistent support prenatally, even when you are choosing to birth without a doula or with another doula
  24. Provides consistent support prenatally for mothers includes those experiencing PTSD from Previous Sexual Trauma while working with your therapist to ensure you have the best support team available no matter when you have your baby
  25. Supports #ALLthebirths because a doula is supporting YOU
  26. Supports the birth team's interaction with the laboring mother to improve her experience and memory of the birth
  27. Guides you and your birth partner on positive communication skills to improve your labor experience
  28. Provides physical support during labor for comfort
  29. Provides physical guidance during labor to help a baby move into a more comfortable position
  30. Provides emotional support during labor for comfort and birth progression
  31. Communicates with the staff about your needs for quiet and privacy during labor
  32. Doesn't flinch when your water breaks all over their shoes and the doula is in the middle of counter pressure for your comfort
  33. Helps you roll from side to side during a medicated birth and you have little feeling from an epidural
  34. Holds your baby on your breast during the first hours after a cesarean when you're a little in and out from the medication
  35. Cares for older siblings whether at a home birth, during the hospital, or when you need childcare during a scheduled cesarean
  36. Meets you at your home, in the woods for a walk, and at your labor facility to support you whenever you need support
  37. Watch your labor signs to help provide information that helps you decide when to transfer to your birth facility
  38. Encourages you to listen to your amazing body and all the signals it is providing you to move, breathe, and dance with your baby
  39. Helps comfort you through transferring to a birth facility
  40. Can drive you to your birth facility while your birth partner supports you during transfer to a birth facility
  41. Help setup a birthing tub for hydrotherapy
  42. Help tear down and cleanup a birthing tub after a water birth
  43. Get in the birthing tub with you to provide back pressure and position support
  44. Is comfortable with birth fluids near and on them
  45. Helps you find the labor noises that opens your cervix and brings baby down
  46. Reassures your birth partner that all these noises are expected and opening the cervix, bringing the baby down
  47. Help cleanup the house after a home birth
  48. Rotates and wiggles your hips to help baby move through the pelvis
  49. Dances with you during birth for emotional and physical support
  50. Offers birth ball use guidance
  51. Offers peanut ball use guidance
  52. Tells you how amazing you are to build your confidence, and oxytocin, in pregnancy and birth
  53. Tells your birth partner how amazing they are to build their confidence, and oxytocin, in supporting you through birth
  54. Takes the lead on supporting you as you desire
  55. Guides the direction of your birth partner so they can support you in a leading role
  56. Works alongside your birth partner
  57. Holds your hair back and a bag for vomit
  58. Provides support even when there are shift changes at your birth facility
  59. Turns down the lights to help oxytocin build to its fullest potential
  60. Encourages privacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  61. Encourages intimacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  62. Reminds you to listen to your body for positions and movement
  63. Reminds you to listen to your body for needs of rest and relaxation
  64. Reminds you to listen to your body for pushing birthing
  65. Reminds the facility of your birth guide
  66. Reminds you to speak up for your desires
  67. Reminds you of your human rights during labor and birth
  68. Reminds you that you CAN birth vaginally when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  69. Reminds you that you CAN choose a cesarean when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  70. Fills up your water bottle, adds a little cucumber and fruit for electrolyte balance
  71. Reminds you to take sips of water for hydration
  72. Reminds you to eat light balanced foods, broths, and fruit as desired during labor
  73. Reminds you to communicate with your provider and staff for your wishes
  74. Reminds you that, "No Thank You" and "Not Right Now" are powerful words in the labor space
  75. Gets cooling wash cloths for your face and neck
  76. Gets warm towels for perineal support
  77. Provide hip squeezes to allow comfort and room for the baby
  78. Uses a rebozo for comfort and encouraging baby to rotate through the pelvis
  79. Works with the rest of the birth team and the staff to ensure you have all the perspectives when needed
  80. Answers the phone at 3 am to help you find calm in the early hours of labor, and breastfeeding
  81. Shares area contacts for perinatal services such as breastfeeding or osteopathic therapy
  82. Makes you a cup of tea and a sandwich while you're nursing your baby
  83. Brings your family dinner so you all can rest during postpartum
  84. Listens to your birth story and encourages you to feel all the feels
  85. Helps you wrap your baby for a more hands-free and connected postpartum
  86. Guides you on breastfeeding latch and positions for more comfort
  87. Guides you on when to seek more support for any issues that may arise during postpartum or parenting
  88. Go-to for perinatal-related information and support
  89. Connects the dots between birth choices and birth experience to help you process and understand your birth experience
  90. Checks in on you in the days after birth to ensure you are holistically supported
  91. Offers LOVE - hugs, tears, laughter and love

I can't say that a doula is right for everyone.  I can say that when you have a relationship built with your doula, the ability for better support during labor grows.  A doula is that best friend willing to be by your side through every experience, day or night, weekday or weekend, holidays and spur of the moment.  If you're looking for labor options, a doula perinatal mentor can be a beacon of light through the childbearing years.

Let's chat about how you can be supported through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.

Choosing the best birth location for your birth is an individual choice.  Having a friend or family member that liked a birth location won't tell you what that birth location can do for you.  The best way to choose the best birth location for your birth is to take a tour of the location and know the routines and policies that birth location utilizes for birth.  Considering home birth, birth center birth, and hospital birth can all help to provide you with the most well rounded approach to making an informed decision for your birth.  In most cases, your care provider determines the birth location, so choosing the birth location and care provider are choices that go hand in hand.

Trusting your birth location for the options available to you that allow you to feel comfortable laboring in this space for the pregnancy that you are experiencing now will allow your oxytocin levels to be at their highest for labor progression rather than labor suppressing adrenaline.

Why are You Selecting This Birth Location?

Are you selecting a location other than your home?  Do you know why you are selecting home or not your home? Your birth location not only comes with your care provider, but also the team of people working with your care provider.  In most hospital births, your care provider won't even be present until shortly before the actual birth, so you need to be well aware of the staff that you will be interacting with as if they were the chosen care provider.  Routines and policies can influence not only what you may have to request differently than the routines, but the respect you receive during labor, birth, and the days following.

Use the table below as a guide to help you find the best birth location and birth environment for your #happyhealthybirth.

Thoughts and questions to ask yourself and to research about your chosen birth environment Biological Birth Supportive May want to seek other location
I am excited to walk into my chosen birth location and it feels like a place I can kick up my feet and relax if I want to without feeling like I'm burdening anyone YES NO
I enjoy the presence of the staff or assistants available in this birth locations YES NO
I do not have time limits for birth expected of me in this birth location YES NO
Medications are not a first recommendation for labor progression YES NO
Cytotec is NOT a method used for induction at this birth location YES NO
Pitocin is NOT a routine approach to the birth of the placenta or following the birth of the placenta YES NO
Eating and drinking is encouraged, as the mother desires, during labor YES NO
Movement is encouraged through labor YES NO
Quiet, calm, and dark environments are encouraged through labor and birth [the pushing stage], as well as the first few hours after birth YES NO
Using the placenta for postpartum hemorrhage is an option YES NO
The cord is routinely kept intact until the placenta is birthed and the cord becomes white and stops pulsing YES NO
Lotus birth is an option YES NO
Staff do not become aggressive or sarcastic when handling home birth transfers YES NO
Women choose their own labor and birth position YES NO
Doulas are encouraged to be present and respected YES NO
Siblings can be present during labor and birth YES NO
Water (tub or shower) is encouraged and available as a method of relaxation through labor and birth YES NO
Physical and emotional support is a first approach to helping a mom be confident and comfortable through labor, not medications YES NO
Staff encourage me to talk with my birth team about the benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, and choosing not to use a recommendation or option YES NO
Babies are encouraged to be skin to skin with mom, or dad if mom is unavailable YES NO
Mandatory nor encouraged nursery time is NOT a part of routine care YES NO
Experienced lactation providers are available at all hours and days and a part of routine care for new mothers YES NO
Birth partners are encouraged to participate and are supported through labor, birth, and postpartum YES NO
I don't feel like I need a birth guide [birth plan] to get the birth that I desire at this location because the routines and policies align with my views of birth and care throughout labor, birth, and postpartum for me and my baby YES NO

Of course, the ideal is a YES to all of these, right?  At least much more than the majority. Are these the only priorities?  No, of course not... and there are many other factors that will play into the quality and care of a birth location.  Each mother may have different needs that help her determine the specific options she may want to utilize during birth, but facilities and the staff that support in those facilities create an environment of belief of the body's ability, or belief that birth is always a risk waiting to happen.  From unassisted birth to any level of risk, providers can be supportive of birthing families through respectful care.

Birth baggage, we all carry it even when we're planning a first birth.  We've seen a movie, read a book, heard someone's birth story.  We've listened to our mother or father tell our own birth stories.  Perhaps we even have suppressed memories from our birth that we don't even know we're remembering and reliving.

No matter where we've been, our baggage wasn't lost so let's start the unpacking process.

Birth Baggage Personalities

Your birth baggage probably has a personality.  Personality characteristics have been studied since ancient times - even before Hippocrates and our memories play into the personality characteristics that we show.  They can also help us to find a way of unpacking this baggage.

Dominance Birth Baggage

Do you feel like your birth memories are dominating your every choice?  Do they make you angry and frustrated?  Do you feel like, "If I make this ______ choice, this ______ experience will happen?  Do you feel as though your decisions are better than others?  Do you feel as though someone else's decisions are better than yours?

If this feels like some of your reactions, your birth baggage may be dominating your pregnancy rather than allowing you to enjoy this experience.  Maybe you've experienced birth trauma or someone close to you experienced birth trauma.  Maybe someone's story really hit hard because their situation was so similar to yours.  We must understand that birth is a journey.  We can make choices that support our health, but what we experience and choose is neither better nor worse than anyone else - only the experience we have and how we are influenced by that experience for our future.

Influence

Do you feel like you made choices that other people made in their birth, hoping for the same outcome?  Do you look at professional birth images and yearn for that experience the image seems to create in your mind?  Or, do you feel like others made your birth decisions for you?

We can often let others influence us into making decisions, especially in a culture where we doubt our own abilities to make health decisions.  We need to work towards building our confidence in our own abilities.

Steady

Are we passive on making new or different decisions for our birth?  Are we unwilling to change providers or birth locations even when we feel our current choices aren't supporting our birth philosophy?  Are we putting off making decisions?  Are we comfortable in certain birth choices just because they are the common routine in our modern culture?

The norm can feel easy at first.  Making decisions different than those around us can feel almost counter-intuitive at times so we must really look at the evidence and branch out to find multiple perspectives on the approach to health and maternity care.

Conscientious

Do you feel as though you must plan every aspect of your pregnancy and birth to avoid complications?  Do you assess all the details, all the studies, all the scientific tangible evidence?  Do you feel any deviation from your plan would be difficult to experience or a "failure" of birth?

We cannot control birth.  We can influence our experience, but there are no guarantees with birth.  In many ways, we have to come to peace with that uncertainty.

 

How to Unpack Your Birth Baggage

We may be able to determine our birth baggage personality, but the real task comes in unpacking.  Ever went on a trip, came home and just lived out of a suitcase for a few weeks never really decluttering our living space?  Next trip, do we do the same thing?  Do we pack less?  Do we deal with our baggage immediately to make the following weeks a little lighter so the transition to coming home is a little more feng shui? How do we learn from this?

Pack Less - Reduce the baggage you take into birth so you have less to deal with when you get there (and home).

This can be a literal translation into not over packing the labor bag - but we need to reduce the emotional baggage we take into the birth so we can enjoy the experience and focus on the labor and birth, and not losing some piece of ourselves in the process.

Accept that birth baggage exists.  In a culture where birth trauma is so prevalent, it might not only feel wrong to believe you've experienced trauma, but it may be hard to accept that positive birth experiences exist and are thriving.  It may also feel frustrating to have prepared well for a previous birth to have still experienced birth trauma... even from what may have felt like a positive birth experience.  Women are often told, "at least you have a healthy baby" with total disregard for the health, especially emotionally, of the mother.  Fathers, and all birth partners, absolutely experience birth trauma as well and it may be even more difficult to realize this trauma when so many of these negative experiences occur every day.  We must believe that birth should be a joyful experience and that we are meant to experience pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting in a positive, energetic, and joyful way.

Get birth counseling.  If you're feeling any of these emotions that don't allow you to simply enjoy your pregnancy and birth and feel confident about your experience - then there is some piece of emotional hindrance on your experience.  Find where those feelings are coming from and confront them, talk with a therapist, chat with your doula, take a perinatal education course, and join a birth group that allows you to work through your previous birth story.  Finding a community of like-minded people allow us to feel safe sharing our experiences.  Finding a community of positive birth supporters that believe in the biology of birth helps us to feel confident in our body's abilities to gestate, birth, and heal.

Learn about the birth industry.  Birth classes are so much more than breathing and comfort measures.  True, they may start out with the idea of learning tools to reduce discomfort, but a quality perinatal education series helps you to navigate the birth industry to confidently make informed decisions.  Research quality evidence-based information with a wide variety of perspectives.

Unpack Your Baggage Soon

The sooner you unpack your baggage, the more quickly things can get back to a new normal.  If we let the emotions sit, they sit and stew and tend to keep piling on as they get mixed with new emotions - like tired nights with a newborn or little help as our culture thrusts us back into home duties and work so quickly after birth.  If you feel uneasy or disappointed at all after a birth, talk to someone.

Write Your Birth Story.  Get it out, and quickly.  Get it out before you retell the birth story so many times that emotions twist the experience.  It is inevitable that the emotions surrounding us when we retell our birth story will continue to ingrain the memory's feelings for long term retrieval.  By writing, or recording, our birth story in some way soon after the birth - we keep our immediate memories whole.  We can then process our birth story as we continue to share, but keeping in mind that we must continue to find 2-3 positive aspects that we bring into our story no matter how the rest of the story makes us feel.  If we only focus on the negative, we will soon find ourselves unable to remember the positive.  Recording our birth story, even if we discard our recording, also allows us to move these memories to a more long-term space in our mind rather than constantly recalling the traumatic events (even the seemingly minuscule thoughts that are so fleeting).

Share Your Birth Story.  Find someone that understands birth trauma, and share your birth story.  Go back to that group you created prior to birth and share your story and allow yourself to heal - no matter what your birth looks like to anyone else.  All that matters is a healthy happy family - not just one member we get to bring home.  A mother must have a support team that understands her needs and is in an emotional place to provide her with the support she needs as well.

 

just breathe Reflection Journal Prompt - Week 3

Reflect: My previous birth experience (or someone else's) makes me feel ________. Reflect about how you can make decisions that can positively influence your birth.

#TheOxytocinMethod works because it address your life individually. It isn't a specific "birth method" that offers a cookie cutter approach to birth. It teaches you to build your confidence through self-exploration and life choices that support biology, and oxytocin - the hormone needed for spontaneous labor progression and a happy healthy birth.

 

So, come on in to Esali Birth... unpack your birth baggage and stay a while.

speed up labor naturally Esali Birth

In a medical setting, keeping labor to a 12 hour time frame is fairly typical to move patients in and out and avoid long-drawn out labors.  Many times providers and facilities are using a very outdated (misled) method of assessing labor and have coupled that with techniques of increasing facility income by number of patients in and out of the facility.  While long painful unhappy labor isn't ideal for mom's and baby's oxytocin levels and neurological function, a long labor doesn't necessarily mean mom and baby aren't doing well.  We have to take it situation by situation and ultimately ask mom if she prefers to speed up labor.  Augmenting labor (speeding labor up) is prevalent in many births, even without an initial labor induction.

Labor augmentation isn't ideal.  If mom's hormones aren't at an ideal level, and baby is fitting well in the pelvis, speeding things up typically just increases pain and distress (and cesarean).  Allowing your body to naturally progress through labor provides your body and baby's body with the hormones and the time to allow the pelvis to move and baby's skull to mould and fit together like a key in a lock.  Speeding up the process with medications, herbal remedies or a breast pump may be effective, but not always safe or necessary.

When to Speed up Labor

Much of the means of speeding up labor naturally have nothing to do with speeding up the labor process, but making the labor process more effective through supporting the biology of the birth.  So, yes, labor would, as a result, not take so long - but it is not due to forcing the baby through the pelvis, but enabling the baby to fit through the pelvis and comforting mom.  Of course, there are often times where a provider suggests you get things moving a little faster and these techniques provide very valuable.

  • Of course, the first approach is to hire a provider that understands biological birth.
  • Ask why someone would want to speed up labor.
    • Time limits from the provider
    • Time limits from the birth facility
    • Time limits because you're exhausted
    • Recommendations for getting the baby out sooner than later due to medical reasons.  This would be the only case where augmenting labor may be useful, though I would have to ask myself, "Is augmentation actually the safest course of action, or would cesarean be more appropriate to reduce the overall short and long-term risks?"  Because, in fact, if there is a medical complication, augmenting labor may very likely increase these risks.
  • Decide if speeding up labor is the answer, or following your instincts with possible physical and emotional guidance from a doula would allow labor to progress more smoothly.

 

Techniques to Speed up Labor Naturally

When and how to speed up labor might be something you're thinking of during pregnancy, or during a long labor.  Here are techniques to prevent long labors and to speed up labor when time limits seem to be approaching faster than you'd like.

The following methods to speed up labor should be used with these thoughts in mind:

  • These methods to speed up labor can be used in conjunction with one another, or on their own - though nipple stimulation is the most intense of the techniques
  • These methods to speed up labor can be used to prevent a long labor
  • These methods to speed up labor can be used to avoid medical (or herbal) labor augmentation
  • These methods to speed up labor can be used in conjunction with any medicated birth or medical (or herbal) labor augmentation
  • These methods to speed up labor can be cycled through, revisited at a later time and are often common doula techniques to create a happy healthy birth

Quiet, Calm, Dark to Speed up Labor

Oxytocin, the prime labor hormone, works best in a quiet, calm, and dark space.  Oytocin works synergistically with melatonin and dopamine and as such is heightened in dark settings.  Continue this environment prior to and during labor (to include the first few hours after the birth).  This practice not only creates a calmer environment, but also reduces adrenaline for a safer (normal risk of postpartum hemorrhage) experience.

Clear the Room & Hands Off Mom to Speed up Labor

This is similar to quiet, calm and dark - with an enhanced attribute.  The more people and stuff going on in the space, the more mom's logical brain turns on and the less her instinctive brain (the part needed to progress through birth) works.  No talking - definitely no asking her questions.  No watching TV or carrying on conversations in this space.  No touching (unless this is obviously desired by mom).  Clear the room down to mom's main support person (as long as that support person is calm and providing positive energy to the mom).  The more vaginal exams, monitoring and general fiddling with the mom, the more intense labor sensations will be felt and the longer labor will be (and the more likely recommendations to speed up labor will occur).  Historically (I'm talking pre-city culture), women labored on average about 2-4 hours.  Labor was thought of quite differently in those times.

Move

If you can't move, your pelvis won't move, and baby won't move.  Labor is a blend of feeling safe (building oxytocin) and being aligned (whole body alignment and soft tissue mobility) for baby's movement through the pelvis.  Speed up labor by getting baby into a good position prior to labor through prenatal aligned movement is ideal.  Continuing this through labor and birth, by mom following her instincts is also ideal.  Walk, stretch, belly dance, get some bodywork.  If labor feels intense or long, having a knowledgeable doula to provide you with positioning and movement guidance can be quite helpful.  This could be side lying releases, massage, hip squeezes, rest, rebozo work and various other forms of movement (and relaxation) suggestions.

Emotional Release to Speed up Labor

It is quite common to have emotional tension holding a mom back from smooth labor progression.  Whether this is causing prodromal labor or a long labor, getting your emotions out is ideal.  Use the feel, yell and tell method to speed up labor.

  • Feel your emotions - your anger, your frustration, your annoyance, your hurt, your fear.
  • Yell - Do you know what it feels like to be alone in the woods - or any solitary place - and just yell?  If you don't, you should try it.  It is quite liberating.  It works in similar ways to how crying releases hormones causing sadness and anger.  Sometimes all we can do is just let those hormones flow.  Giving a deep empowering Tarzan and Jane like roar can really help you move through adrenaline and let oxytocin rise.
  • Tell someone what you're thinking or feeling.  If you're thinking of something, you are preventing your instinctual brain to take over.  Get it out.  Tell someone what you're thinking and/or tell the person you're thinking about what you're thinking.  If you're annoyed at the way someone is treating you, speak up.  If you need to vent about your fear, let someone know.  If you're worried you left the stove on, call someone and have them go check.  If you'd rather birth in the hospital after planning a home birth, tell your midwife or birth team it is time to transfer.  If you just don't understand why you're experiencing labor this way, tell your doula that you're pissed off and tired and just annoyed that you're still in labor.

Sometimes, letting these emotions out is all your mind needs to no longer hold the weight of these feelings and speed up labor.

Kissing, Intimate Touching to Speed up Labor

What gets the baby in, gets the baby out.  Birth is intimate.  This might make you feel uncomfortable; however, that doesn't make it any less true.  Oxytocin peaks during orgasm, and after childbirth.  You're meant to enjoy labor with those you love, and those that will love the baby.  Kiss and be intimate with your significant other.  Eye gazing, skin to skin touching, and open mouth kissing allow oxytocin to rise enabling contractions to be more effective.

Nipple Stimulation to Speed up Labor

While similar to being intimate, nipple stimulation can be slightly different.  Ideally this would be involved in your intimate connection.  Nipple stimulation (as will happen during breastfeeding) releases oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions in the uterus (and contractions in the alveoli of the breast to express breastmilk).  Using nipple stimulation aggressively, whether through the hands, orally, or with a breast pump, will stimulate contractions.  It is very important to note that stimulating contractions in this way is often used first, unfortunately, when there is an alignment issue and baby ends up just being jammed into the pelvis instead of helped through the pelvis through movement and the other emotion-supporting techniques.

 

Looking for guidance to prevent or remedy a long labor?  Get in touch!

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