Babble just published my Top Ten Things You Need To Know About Birth. Have a look if you’re heading in that direction– I hope it’s helpful. It was hard to whittle it all down to ten things. Especially since I can seriously talk all day on the subject (and often do).
My main goal here was to get to some big truths and dispel some common myths. But there were a few other things I might have included were the list to go on… and on. And here they are:
11. You don’t have to lie on your back in labor. In fact, the “supine” (back-lying) position is not as gravity friendly for labor or pushing as leaning forward, squatting or getting on your hands and knees. It’s fine to lie down if you want to, but many women left to their own devices don’t choose this option. Lying down (or at least being less active) does become necessary when medications are introduced as monitoring is required.
12. Episiotomies are should be a thing of the past. Once most women got an episiotomy– a small cut through the skin *and muscle* between the vagina and the anus. This was thought to be “cleaner” than a messy tear. But now we know that most tears don’t go all the way through the muscle. There’s no reason to preemptively cut. But some doctors haven’t caught up with this reality, and don’t adhere to the recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that episiotomies not be routinely performed.
13. Eating and drinking in labor is a fine idea. That is, if you’re hungry and thirsty. Some hospitals and birthing centers have changed their guidelines on this issue, but many still require mom only suck on ice-chips during labor. The average length of a first time labor is about 24 hours. And the uterus is a muscle. This means 24 hours of muscular activity. Maybe you’d like some nourishment along the way?
I’m not talking about chicken parm in the hospital bed, but more like a really nice meal in early labor and then some Gatorade or snacks in active labor. Most women don’t really want to eat once the hard contractions come on, but being able to sip water between them or eat if you are in need of an energy boost, is so helpful. A lot of hospital nurses and doctors are happy to let a little small sipping and snacking go unnoticed– some even support it.
14. Good labor support really can help. I kind of covered this in one of my bullet points on the list; but it’s worth emphasizing. Doulas or women who have given birth and who trust birth can be a great help to both the laboring mom and her partner if she has one. Research has shown that birthing with a doula lowers the odds of a c-section, other interventions and can even shorten labor. How about that? (Every woman should have a doula and we shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for them but that’s another story.)
Alright. I’ll end it there for now. I may be back though! Feel free to ask me any questions about this stuff in the comments section so we can continue the dialog. Or throw in your own advice, if you’ve got some–we all do!
Here’s the original post of the top ten “things.”