Now, as British royalty watchers are waiting for news of Kate’s baby, many of us are waiting for the birth of our baby as well. It seems painful, all this waiting. Why me? Why can’t labor just come already? Patient doulas have been answering that question forever. The answer is: it always seems to take forever. The longest known pregnancies (from an emotional point of view) are generally first time moms-to-be. They have expected their darling since they peed on the stick, many moons ago, and are now feeling like the watched pot that won’t boil.
Apparently, Princess Diana’s labor with Prince William was induced because she couldn’t stand the wait and being watched by a whole country. Hopefully, not that many people are watching your pregnancy, but it sometimes feels like it. In the grocery store, people look at you like the balloon that is about to pop. At meetings, people view you with astonishment and say, “Are you having twins? When’s your due date again?” If you have the effrontery to have passed your due date, people will show you their concern, over and over, especially relatives.
The simple truth to keep in mind is: you will have your baby! In general, it is better to wait than to induce. All women have felt like this, even the ones whose babies were born before their due dates. Each day past your due date greatly increases your likelihood of going into labor. And also, this too, shall pass. Meanwhile, your doula is patiently waiting with you. Give her a call if you need sympathetic support.
Doulas can’t check a laboring woman’s cervix, or perform medical procedures, but knowing where a woman is in labor is a very helpful skill. Experience with laboring women helps us figure it out. Nicole D. who writes the blog, Bellies and Babies, has a very helpful article that describes multiple ways to help a woman figure out her labor progress.
Some methods that can help a caregiver or doula know how dilated a woman is during her labor include:
- Teach self exams
- Sounds she makes
- Smell of the room or the mom
- Bloody Show
- The bottom line
- Physical Make-Up
- Fundal height
- Symphysis Crease
- Mexican Hot Legs
Her article is nicely descriptive and helpful. I had a birth recently during which I used the Mexican Hot Legs technique. It worked for me! I was able to gauge her labor progress very well. Nicole describes this:
“As the birthing woman’s body works harder, blood is withdrawn from the extremities to be utilized by the womb. Thus, the woman’s legs get progressively colder from the ankle to the knee as labor progresses. At the start of birth, the whole leg will be warm. At around 5 cm, the leg will be cold from the ankle to around mid-calf than it is above the calf. Once the whole leg feels cold up to the knee, then the urge to push should shortly follow.
This technique is less reliable if the woman is having an epidural, as the drugs will also affect the temperature of the hands and legs. If a woman is birthing in water then she’d need to be on dry land for around 20 minutes to allow the temperature in her legs to be measured accurately. “
Spring is the time we start to see green again, new leaves, new fawns, baby birds in nests. We get to enjoy wonderful weather and flowers. We often walk along the Trillium Trail and see those wonderful three petaled flowers. For doulas, birth is also springlike, too! We love to see new moms with their new babies. We enjoy helping them into the world and helping their moms become confident mothers. With success in breastfeeding, babies grow wonderfully.
As I walk along and think about the joys of spring. I actually stop and smell the roses. Some are fragrant, others are just pretty. My walking about and seeing the spring renews my spirit and has me looking forward to the next amazing springtime birth. My hope and my prayer is always that the birth will be one that brings joyful memories to the mom and dad.
The epidural catheter threaded into the epidural space in mom’s back.
As a working doula, what can I say about epidurals today? I have three things to say about them. First, if you are giving birth in a non-rural part of the U.S., you should decide what you think about having an epidural prior to your birth. You should read about them and discuss them with your care provider (doctor or midwife) and also your doula.
Second, please realize that most mothers can give birth without an epidural and that there are distinct advantages to not having an epidural. All the mothers who have spoken to me about giving birth without pain medication have been glad that they did it! Not just some of them, all of them! That is significant. They may have different reasons, but moms who have a pain-med-free birth are proud of themselves. They have conquered their rite of passage into motherhood. They have accomplished something that no one can ever take away from them. Ever.
That isn’t to say that moms who have an epidural (or other pain medications in labor) won’t have a lovely birth. They can also be proud of themselves and their births. It isn’t the same sort of birth, though. When a mom chooses to have an epidural, she really becomes a patient. That makes the flow of the birth more medical. She has to follow the safety protocols for epidural labor, which usually include continuous fetal & contraction monitoring, continuous IV, staying in bed for the rest of labor, catheterization for urinating, and more.
Finally, epidurals are big medicine. That is, they produce a big effect and they can have some big side-effects as well. Here is one side-effect people don’t usually talk about (luckily, your doula will talk about anything!): having an epidural in labor often makes moms feel more vulnerable. The labor is being guided by doctors and medicine instead of mom. There is a catheter in her back that is there to stay until after birth. Mom feels like she couldn’t do it without outside help. Mom feels tied down to the bed.
So when you are thinking in advance how you feel about epidurals, think of how this will affect you, because it is your birth!
Watsu is terrifically relaxing and can benefit pregnant women. Jeff Bisdee is the only Watsu practitioner in Pittsburgh. Watsu is water Shiatsu. It is a relaxing type of massage that takes place in a warm water pool. Floating takes stress off a pregnant body and the gentle floating and gliding in the water is very relaxing. During a Watsu, both the practitioner and the mother wear bathing suits.
Watsu therapy is a combination of water therapy and Shiatsu. Sometimes called the “water breath dance”, Watsu therapy involves a focus on deep breathing while the client’s body is moved gently through warm water by the therapist. Watsu uses many of the stretching techniques of Shiatsu. Watsu also borrows from Acupressure, applying pressure with the fingertips to restore the free flow of life-energy.
During a Watsu session, the therapist will move the client through the water, gently supporting the spine and stretching the joints of the body. The water in which Watsu is performed is 96 degrees or slightly warmer, to encourage muscle relaxation and improve circulation.
It has been shown that swimming helps to orient the baby correctly in the birth canal. Watsu, like swimming, can be helpful for aligning the mother’s and baby’s bodies. And, it is fun! Take a look at Jeff’s Watsu website:
I have had several Watsus and if I were pregnant, I would want several of them, especially during the last trimester. Watsu is a relaxing and meditative experience. Contact Jeff Bisdee for a Watsu of your own.