For women who are planning on having a vaginal birth, birth preparation helps to prepare the body AND the mind for the feat that is labor. Studies have shown that women who prepare in this way for labor tend to have fewer medical interventions and complications - which is exactly what we want! So what does a session look like?
First, we ask you what YOUR plan for labor is, as it differs from person to person. Some women are planning on asking for an epidural the minute they walk into the hospital. Others want to try having a completely unmedicated birth. Some women want only their partners in the room with them, others are hiring a birth doula to accompany them in addition to their partners. These decisions change a few things about the session, the main one being a discussion and education on available birthing positions.
So depending on whether you're planning epidural or not, this changes the number of available positions to push in during labor. When an epidural is administered, the patient is usually unable to move beyond the bed which means that any positions involving standing, squatting, half kneeling on the floor are out. However we go over positions that ARE available on the bed that aren't simply lying on your back. In addition to this, we take into account any prior orthopedic injuries or surgeries you may have had or discomfort you are currently experiencing to choose the best positions for you. Lastly, in addition to reviewing best positions, we talk about pelvis biomechanics so that you understand when in labor to choose certain positions.
Moving on from birthing positions, we then teach you and your partner about pain-relieving techniques that are available. We usually encourage the partner to be in the session with us so that they can learn and practice with you so that you are both comfortable with the techniques prior to the session ending. If you have a doula that will be performing these techniques, this part of the session is usually skipped.
We then start learning about perineal massage. There is growing research to suggest that women (in particular those who will be experiencing labor for the first time) experience decreased perineal tearing if they practice perineal massage starting at 36 weeks pregnant and keep it up until they go into labor. The thought process behind this is to prep and gradually stretch the perineal and vaginal tissue in the weeks leading up to childbirth instead of simply subjecting your vagina to go through the intense stretching that occurs during labor all in one go. Think of it as the equivalent of an athlete warming up before playing a championship game - they do this to prevent injuries during the game!
Now for the most important part, reviewing pushing technique! So why is this so important? Well, there is a lot of misinformation out there with one in particular that teaches women to hold their breath and push as hard as they can during labor. When really all this does is tense the pelvic floor and creates A LOT of pressure in the abdomen and pelvic floor area leading to increased susceptibility of tears, hernias, diastasis, increased fetal distress.....The list goes on! So because of this, we find pushing technique extremely important!
Lastly, this session is about helping you feel good physically. So throw in stretches, mobilizations, and massages throughout the session. By the end of this session you should be feeling prepared both physically and mentally for labor which is the goal of birth prep!
Questions still on the process? Feel free to email me!