Pushing and the Fetal Ejection Reflex

Stop telling women they don’t have to push! 

In the process of physiological birth, the birthing person will feel the urge to push on their own and it will be an uncontrollable reflex called the fetal ejection reflex. The body will bear down and start pushing when the baby has made the final movements and rotations necessary to move through the birth canal. This is different than a provider checking a mother’s cervix and saying, “okay, you’re 10cm dilated. Let’s push this baby out!” Waiting for that reflex helps ensure that your baby has made the movements necessary for your body to use the power of this reflex to push your baby out.  

It is very common for there to be a pause in time from the moment full dilation is reached and the time that the fetal ejection reflex occurs. The birth blueprint isn’t the same for every birthing person, but this is often the case. Many times, a mother simply needs time to rest and wait for that reflex to happen. And as long as everyone is safe and healthy, there is no reason that this process needs to be rushed. This is physiological birth, and it is a very normal process.  

There is an increasing awareness of this process and I often hear childbirth educators, doulas, and midwives say, “did you know you don’t even have to push your baby out? You can just breathe your baby down and your body will do the work for you.”  

However, the lifestyles we live today are far from natural and our bodies feel the burden of these changes. Imbalances in the pelvis, scar tissue, lack of movement, interventions, early pushing and birth management, nutritional status, and many other factors lead women to a different place in the birthing process. For the majority of mothers, if left undisturbed, the physiological birthing process will take over.  

But what if it doesn’t? 

Let me speak from experience. In my first birth, I labored for nearly 20 hours. My labor started out with a posterior baby and I was one cm dilated after hours and hours of regular contractions that were 3 minutes apart. Through transition, my body started bearing down and I felt a lot of pressure. My midwife checked my cervix and I had a cervical lip and yet my body was bearing down and I could not control my pushing. My midwife tried for a very long time to pull back the cervical lip (and holy shit I think I still may be traumatized from how painful that was). We tried every possible pushing position – birthing stool, in the water, on the bed, standing, etc and there was very little progress. I pushed for 6 hours. My daughter was born with her arm wrapped around her neck, like a scarf, behind her head.  

I absolutely HAD to work hard at pushing my baby out. It was the only way she would have been born.  

After my first birth, when I told my birth story, I had friends tell me, “you shouldn’t have to push that long in birth. Didn’t you know you don’t even have to push?”  

Bullshit.  

Tell me one more time that I didn’t have to put all my strength into pushing my baby out. 

For a long time, this made me feel like there was something wrong with me and my body. Why couldn’t I just breathe my baby out like all of these other women seem to be able to do? What was wrong with me that my birth was so hard? Maybe if I did the spinning babies tricks at 30 weeks instead of 35 weeks, my labor would have been easier. Maybe if I saw my chiropractor twice a week instead of once a week. It was a really negative thinking cycle.  

The fetal ejection reflex is real and we need to give birthing mothers the space to listen to their body and feel that reflex to harness the power of physiological birth. However, there are a ton of birthing situations in which that doesn’t or can’t happen. Sometimes when a baby is in a challenging position, you really do need to work hard at pushing in combination with other techniques to move that baby. What if mom has an epidural? Is it really okay to tell her that she doesn’t have to push when she can’t even feel that reflex?  

I’m definitely not advocating for directed pushing, purple pushing, or any of those things.

But…

Birth can be really hard.  

You can have a long pushing phase of labor, even if you did ALL the things to promote a natural birth process. And let me tell you, I have been a doula at many births with some crazy long pushing phases and it can be incredibly draining and scary for families as the risks of complications arise.  

When you tell a mother she doesn’t have to push, you’re not truly preparing her for birth or the possibility that she may need to work hard to push her baby out. You’re invalidating that struggle and all of the emotions and feelings of failure that come with it. 

We need to stop telling mothers that they don’t have to push, and instead prepare them for what they may need to do in a challenging situation. We need to prepare them for endurance, physically and emotionally, and let them know that it absolutely can be a variation of normal.  

Two Under Two Survival Guide

Tips for Surviving and Thriving With a Toddler and a Newborn

Congratulations! You’re pregnant! You’re passing through the first year of life with an infant, and you’re finding yourself planning to do it all again. Caring for a toddler while pregnant can be a beautiful and challenging experience – all at the same time. There are so many big emotions that can arise during this time, and in this blog post I will address some of the most common concerns I hear from families.

Mom Guilt

Even when a pregnancy is very much planned and the whole family is excited, it’s not unusual for moms to experience feelings of guilt. You’re watching your baby growing up, yet you’re growing another baby as well. You might be wondering, how am I going to give my toddler the attention he/she needs? How can I spend my time bonding with my new baby while caring for my toddler?

You might feel guilty for having to share your time and your heart. These are all very normal feelings, and I’d really love to give you a hug right now. It is 100% okay to feel overjoyed and yet scared, nervous, or overwhelmed. I have gone through the two under two phase twice now, and I have experienced the whole spectrum of these emotions throughout the duration of my pregnancies and the postpartum time. You may be wondering how you can share so much love, and give so much of yourself and your heart to another child. A funny thing happens when you have another baby. Your heart suddenly expands and will grow to encircle another new person. Every time. 

This is what is so amazingly profound and beautiful about the postpartum time. No matter how many babies you have, whether you are having your first or your fifth, every time your heart grows to encircle another you become changed person in the process. There may be growing pains, but think of it as a beautiful expansion rather than an ending point.

Tips for the Newborn and Toddler Transition

  • Spend one on one time with your toddler every day. This may seem hard or nearly impossible, but it doesn’t have to be a big deal. For example, you could have someone hold your newborn for a few minutes and do bath time with your toddler. Read them their favorite story while your baby naps. Sing them a song that is theirs alone every morning. Simple moments in the day can make a really big difference.
  • Create a basket of special items that your toddler can use only when you are feeding your new baby. When you’re feeding your baby, your toddler can get their super cool basket and play, draw, read, etc. I find that the dollar stores have a lot of really attractive items to use for these baskets.
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A Toddler Basket
  • Keep a basket of your toddler’s favorite books near wherever you sit with your baby. Let’s face it, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re doing a lot of sitting in bed, on the couch, or in a chair and nursing nursing nursing. If you keep some favorite books near you, you can nurse your baby while snuggling up with a good book with your toddler.
  • Learn baby wearing! If you haven’t already learned about baby wearing, you absolutely need to. Wearing your new baby in a sling or soft wrap will help you to be mobile and hands free to help your toddler. If you can learn to nurse your baby in a sling, that makes it even easier to work with your toddler. It’s really tiring and difficult to follow a toddler around the home and yard with a baby in your arms.
  • Plan some special snacks for your toddler for the first few weeks postpartum. Use the snack-sized storage bags and fill them with their favorites. Some good ideas are granola, trail mix, cereal, etc. Healthy snacks are best but you want to plan something that they will enjoy. After all, this is kind of about survival at this stage. I promise, your kiddo will be fine with some goldfish and teddy grahams if that’s what it takes. Another benefit of this snack prep is that anyone can simply just give them a snack. Store them in a cupboard or storage bin on the counter. Anyone helping you around your home, or even an older child, simply needs to just give them a snack bag and they’re set.
  • Find meaningful ways for your toddler to help with the new baby. This is very age dependent, but I find most toddlers love to take on simple tasks like “warming wipes” for the baby by holding the cool wipes in their hands while you get the dirty diaper off. Let them pick out the baby’s clothes. Ask them to get diapers or wipes for you. They will enjoy helping and it helps bring everyone together in caretaking.
  • Read books about birth, babies, and becoming a big brother/sister. There are so many amazing books out there. Find ones that resonate with your family and your parenting style. Talk to your toddler about what it might be like to feed the baby, change baby’s diapers, and why the baby might cry. Talk to them about how important they are as a big brother or big sister. You can talk about how they might want to help with the baby, and involve them in family decisions when appropriate. Your toddler can even help your doctor or midwife at prenatal appointments and they’re usually so accommodating and love to let the little ones help. Some of our favorites are What Baby Needs by William and Martha Sears and I’m a Big Sister/Brother by Joanna Cole.
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What Baby Needs by Martha and William Sears
  • Watch the language you use when you talk about your new baby. Avoid using phrases like “the baby” or “my baby” and instead try to say “our baby.” The difference sounds miniscule, but it means a lot in terms of including everyone in the family.
  • Plan opportunities for family bonding. This doesn’t have to be anything that is hugely structured, but little routines can go a long way with toddlers. One idea is to ask your toddler if they want to sing a song to the new baby before they go to bed at night. Involving everyone together instead of isolating each kid to individual routines helps bring the family together.
  • Give yourself a break. You might find that you need to let go of some things that you used to be very strict about. You have to pick your battles. Does it really matter if your toddler has matching socks every day? No. Does it matter if they stay in their pajamas in the morning? Probably not. The Cheerios aren’t going anywhere, so it’s okay to let them stay on the floor for a bit if need be. You get my point. Sometimes you need to let go a little and think about what really matters and your priorities will change. It is 100% okay to LET THINGS GO and just live in the moment with your babies.

I hope you found this helpful in your journey, whether you are deep into two under two survival or just considering taking the plunge.

 

Smoothie Ideas

Hey Mindful Mamas! Check out this week’s YouTube video where I make one of my favorite smoothies. I have been really into using powdered greens in smoothies for some extra nutrition, since I have been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both for the past 5 years. Focusing on nutrition helps so much with maintaining balance and calm in my life.

In this smoothie, I use:

-Organic Greek Yogurt: you can use any yogurt, I like the extra protein boost of Greek yogurt

-Powdered greens: there are so many different types of powdered greens. I prefer to use one that is food based without added herbs. The brand I am currently using is a mixture of super greens, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.

-Frozen strawberries

-Chia seeds: I add these to provide an extra boost of fats and iron.

-Pomegranate juice

-Coconut oil

Enjoy! What’s in your favorite smoothie?

Baby Led Weaning

How to Start Baby-Led Weaning and Why You’d Want To

Looking to learn more about how to introduce your baby to solid foods? In this blog post, I will discuss the popular method of starting solids called baby led weaning. The name sounds like exactly what it means.

Baby led weaning is the process of feeding your baby solid foods in way that allows them to listen to their cues and follow their own abilities to feed independently. No spoons or purees here.

Typically, baby led weaning involves offering your baby soft cooked veggies and fruits, or other healthy foods, in finger-sized pieces. Baby then can pick up the food independently and bring it to their mouth, biting off pieces to practice chewing, and move the food around their mouth to swallow. Many families offer soft avocado slices, soft steamed veggie pieces, and sometimes toast with spreads or dips as starter foods. Most families offer their infant the same food eaten by the rest of the family. The main point is that baby is able to eat solid foods independently, without an adult putting a spoon into their mouth.

Baby led weaning can start as soon as your baby hits several developmental milestones. This includes sitting unassisted, development of a pincer grasp, able to pick up food and move it to their mouth, and loss of the tongue thrust reflex (the reflex to spit out food) and a decreased gag reflex. Typically this starts around 6 months, but can take longer for many babies. Be sure to consult your health care provider before starting solid foods with your infant.

Benefits of Baby Led Weaning

  • Development of oral feeding skills – as your baby learns to chew and move the food around on their own, they are developing their oral muscles they need for proper speech development. Sucking baby food off of a spoon uses the oral muscles differently than moving small pieces around the mouth with the tongue.
  • Development of independence and listening to the body’s cues – your baby will learn to eat as they are hungry and interested, rather than the amount being determined by an adult. Your baby will be able to eat according to their own cues, which sets your baby up for healthy eating habits later in life.
  • Introduction to family foods and healthy choices – Your baby will become introduced to the foods eaten by the family rather than separate prepared baby food.
  • It’s so much less work! No specially prepared or purchased baby food and the messiness that comes with purees. (But that doesn’t mean there won’t be clean up!)

Baby Led Weaning is a fantastic book that is a great resource for baby led weaning. I don’t get anything from Amazon for linking their site, but it’s an affordable book to purchase. I also have it available in my library for clients to borrow as needed!

The Baby Led Weaning website is also a fantastic resource to learn more about how to get started.

We have used baby led weaning with all of our babies, and we plan to with our little squish as well. He is now 6 months, and showing some but not all of the signs of readiness. My second child was very slow to start solids, and yet my oldest started very enthusiastically right at 6 months. Every child is different.

babyledweaning
6 months – He’s not totally interested but willing to play!

As a Mindful Mama, I encourage you to connect with your baby and follow the path that feels right for your family. Every child is different and unique, so be sure to follow your instincts and consult with your pediatrician.

How to Use Cloth Wipes

Want to add cloth wipes into your diapering routine? Are you afraid to get started?

It can seem very overwhelming to get started using cloth diapers and wipes. I started using cloth wipes when my first baby was born. You know all of those thin baby washcloths you got at your baby shower? You can use those as cloth wipes.

We used the very thin ones, and supplemented with some second hand purchases as well, as our cloth wipes stash for my first two babies. They last forever, and even over 4 years later we still have some of those wipes floating around. We have traveled with them, and used them for all kinds of baby and kid cleaning. I would suggest creating a stash by planning to use 2-3 wipes per diaper change. So if you plan 10-12 diapers in the newborn period, that makes 30-40 cloth wipes.

Why do I use cloth wipes?

I use cloth wipes because I feel it is the best way to control what gets put on my baby’s bottom. I can choose my ingredients (if any) to use in my wipes solution. It’s also much better for the environment because there is less waste from using individual paper wipes. Thirdly, it’s a huge cost savings. Natural wipes can be very expensive. We spend next to nothing on our cloth stash and never have to worry about having wipes in stock.

How to Use Cloth Wipes

Build a Stash of Wipes

You can get the wipes in a variety of ways. You can use thin baby wipes, purchase cloth wipes from a shop, or make your own. You can make your own using old receiving blankets or flannel, cut into squares or rectangles, and then finish the edges. There are a few different types of wipes, and some are made with thicker layers of fabric for really rough messes. Have fun experimenting. If you’re feeling wild, you could even use some fun patterns or have your older kids choose them and make the wipes together.

Make a Wipe Solution

A wipe solution is the liquid used on the wipes to help clean up baby’s bottom when changing a diaper. You can simply use water (just like water wipes…which are interestingly expensive and offered in many hospitals…), or you can add some ingredients of your choice. We use a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s soap, a tablespoon of witch hazel, and a tablespoon of aloe vera gel. I add this to water inside a spray bottle and spray the wipes before use. You can also simply put your cloth wipes into a container and add the solution to the container.

How to Clean Cloth Wipes

You can clean your cloth wipes just like you wash your diapers. We through them right into our cloth diaper pail and wash them with all of our cloth diapers. They always come out very squeaky clean and have never stained.

We have been using cloth wipes for over 4 years now, and it has been worth the small bit of extra planning to use them. They save us a ton of money, they’re better for babies, and they’re pretty fun too.

Fluff Love also has some great resources to learn more about how to use cloth wipes.

Have you ever used cloth wipes? What is your method?

One-Handed Foods for Postpartum Parents

10 Simple Snacks to Eat While Nursing or Holding Your Baby

Wondering what foods to prepare for yourself and family while caring for your baby? One-handed foods can be a game changer for nursing parents and anyone snuggling a new baby. During my last pregnancy, I made weeks worth of freezer meals for my family. They were great to keep everyone nourished and well. However, I ignored an important component of postpartum eating – you will rarely have two hands free to eat! My specially prepared soups and stews were fantastic, but not always the easiest to eat.

  1. Mini Calzones – Choose your favorite pizza dough and roll out to about the size of your hand. Fill with whatever you choose, but don’t overstuff. Fold the dough in half and close the shell by crimping the opening with a fork. Wrap individually in parchment paper and freeze. You can throw as many of these as you want in the oven for an easy to eat meal.
  2. Protein Packed Muffins – Use your favorite healthy muffin recipe and pack it with healthy proteins. You can then freeze the muffins and save them for after birth.
  3. Cucumber Veggie Stackers – Cut a cucumber into round slices. Add avocado, cheese, tomato, hummus, or your other favorites for a quick snack.
  4. Fruit & Veggies with dips – Cut up your favorite fruits and vegetables and add your dip of choice (hummus, almond butter, etc.)
  5. Yogurt and Granola Bowls – Greek yogurt topped with your choice of granola packs a protein punch
  6. Breakfast Burritos – build your favorite breakfast burritos. You can wrap them individually and freeze for the whole family.
  7. Date and Nut Bars – make and freeze your own date and nut bars. You can customize these bars and they are much cheaper than buying pre-made bars.
  8. Smoothies – Smoothies are a great way to stay nourished, and you can easily sip them throughout the day. Use your favorite ingredients. You can even use reusable pouches and make them for the whole family and store in the fridge.
  9. Rice Cakes with Nut Butter – Extra fats and protein in an easy to eat snack
  10. Pita Sandwiches – Pita bread can be easily stuffed with anything you desire for an easy to prepare meal. They tend to hold their contents better than bread for sandwiches, so your baby won’t be covered by your meal.

The best thing about these foods is that they are really simple to prepare. Try to choose foods that can simply be put from the freezer to the oven or made quickly with easily accessible ingredients. This makes it so easy for your partner, other friends or family, or your postpartum doula to keep everyone well nourished. The bottom line is that if it’s too difficult or arduous of a task for a new mother to eat, she might not be eating enough and you want to make sure that nutritious food is easily accessible.

Freezer meals are also really important for postpartum recovery, but that’s a topic for another post entirely.

What were your favorite postpartum snacks? Did you find anything especially easy to prepare? I would love to hear your ideas.

 

Cloth Diapering for Newborns

So you want to cloth diaper your newborn? Afraid to get started? Here are some of my best tips for cloth diapering during the newborn stage.

I have been cloth diapering since my first baby was born, and I am still using cloth diapers with baby #3. I have cloth diapered newborns, toddlers, potty trainers, small babies, and big babies. In our experience, we have tried basically every type of diaper style out there. As a doula, I have worked with many clients who have cloth diapered and most become pretty passionate about it and fall in love with fluff butts.

Cloth Diapering Your Newborn

As you are probably well aware, newborns can be so tiny! Their diapers are so small, yet some babies fit better into certain types of cloth diapers more quickly than others. In my experience, my favorite method of cloth diapering for newborns is to use prefolds and covers.

I love using prefolds and covers on my newborn babies because you can fold your prefold diapers to fit any size baby. The folds can grow and change with your baby’s needs as they get bigger and put on more baby fat. You can find a fold style that works for any baby, even very little babies. These can be a little more work than putting on an all-in-one or pocket style diaper, but the extra effort can really pay off.

 

You can get through the entire first few months at least using about 24 prefolds and 8 covers. I have found this count to work for us, but it depends how much you do laundry. Because we have had 2 kids in cloth diapers for years now, we wash pretty frequently. This should get you through 2 days or so. Covers do not need to be washed unless they are really soiled.

You will also need 2-4 snappis. Snappis are small stretchy clips that pin the folds of your prefold diapers together. Alternatively, you can use a newspaper fold and forego the snappis altogether. You can purchase prefold diapers in a few different sizes. There are newborn sizes out there that are very small, and slightly larger ones that fit babies 7-15lbs.

 

Another choice for newborns are fitted diapers. You can find fitted diapers that adjust down to 7lbs to use for the newborn days. These will fit inside a small diaper cover similarly to a folded prefold. The benefit of using fitted diapers is that they are highly absorbent and you don’t have to learn to fold anything or remember snappis. My only issue is that I found that fitted diapers were still a little too big for my smallest newborn.

Fluff Love University is a great resource to use to learn about different types of cloth diapers for newborns. Also, you will want to check out what type of washing machine you have at home and research the best cloth diaper wash routine.

Some families prefer to use disposable diapers until their babies are big enough to fit into all-in-one or pocket diapers. Also, you may choose to use disposables until your baby has passed meconium (their first poop! It will be tar-like, very dark and sticky). Some families find that the meconium stains their cloth diapers, however I have not found this to be the case with my babies.

Cloth Diapers in Buffalo

Another option to consider is a diapering service. In many locations, cloth diapering services are available that can provide you with a regular supply of cloth diapers and handle the laundry for you. If you are in the Buffalo area, Buffalo Baby Bums can provide local diaper services.

Have you used cloth diapers with your newborn? What did you use?

Birth Photography in Buffalo

…and why you should hire a photographer!

Birth is an amazingly transformative experience for families. I know this first hand, and I have seen countless clients become parents before my eyes. It is a truly life altering moment.

In our lives in the digital age, we take photos of EVERYTHING. Hey, that cat is looking at the wall funny, lemme get my phone! We take daily photos of our babies doing everything from rolling over to eating boogers. We hire photographers to create mini-sessions with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Have you ever thought of hiring a professional to capture the truly transformative power of birth?

Our entire lives are photographed and recorded daily in some form or another. Yet many families haven’t considered photographing the life-changing moment of birth. Birth photography offers so many amazing benefits for families.

From my personal experience, my first birth was 18+ hours and extremely difficult. I didn’t have a doula, and the only thing getting me through each contraction and attempt at pushing was my midwife saying to me, “I’ve never seen a baby come this far down that didn’t come out.” My baby just turned 4, and yet I still remember her voice.

After the day of travail, we had no pictures to remember the moment we became parents other than a few poor quality cell phone photos of me holding her after she was born. I wanted to be able to look back and retell my birth story and see it through another’s eyes. I wanted to feel reconnection to the story.

For my second birth, I hired a birth photographer to capture those precious moments. She captured amazing views and her work told my son’s birth story through photographs in a way words could not. It was really helpful in processing the birth and we got some amazing images of his nuchal hand.

How can I find a birth photographer?

There are a lot of great options for birth photography. Often times a simple web search or a local maternity directory will help you find a few birth photographers. If you live in the Buffalo area, Nichole Virag is an amazing, trauma-informed birth photographer.

Nichole Virag Doula and Birth Photography

Nichole works with families in all types of birth settings, capturing their birth as the story unfolds. About her photography, Nichole writes:

“I love offering birth photography because it gives families a unique opportunity to relive their birth, just as they’re settling into their new role as parents. Families shouldn’t be forced to remove themselves from the moment in order to take pictures. I want partners to be present to hug, kiss, and snuggle while you take in your new baby, not whipping out his/her cell phone to take a picture. Birth happens in so many ways, and all families and babies deserve to be celebrated.  Regardless of the outcome of anyone’s story, I will always capture it honestly and purely.”

If you are looking for a birth photographer in the Buffalo area, please check out her website and follow her on Facebook.


Did you use a photographer in your birthing experience? Did you or your partner take your own photographs? Tell me about it!

Eating and Drinking for Birth

What can I eat and drink in labor?

One question that I hear a lot in Facebook groups and with my own clients is, “What do you recommend eating and drinking during labor?” A lot of mamas are actually surprised to find that you can, indeed, eat and drink in labor beyond the iconic ice chips. Unfortunately, there are some providers who still discourage women from eating anything in labor based on outdated policies. There is little to no evidence that suggests that it is harmful to eat and drink while birthing.

If you are looking to have a low-intervention or natural birth, and your provider doesn’t allow eating and drinking in labor, I would seriously question their support of your choices. How could you expect a mama to be capable of running the serious marathon of birth without any nourishment? Is this provider really expecting to support you in your birthing preferences?

If you hire a doula, they can help you prepare any snacks you might want. Discuss this ahead of time and you can plan your snacks as you get closer to labor. Your doula can help with offering snacks when you need or want them, as well as water or other drinks.

During labor, it is important to ensure that you are keeping yourself nourished. Could you run a marathon without food and water? What should you eat and drink during labor? Think of foods you might eat while recovering from an illness. Avoid anything overly fatty or full of sugar or salt.

Here are some ideas to help you stay nourished during birth: 

  • Smoothies: simple fruit smoothies can keep you nourished and are very easily digestible. They can also be easily sipped through a straw throughout labor if desired. 
  • Yogurt
  • Crackers or toast
  • Soft cooked warm cereal (oatmeal for example)
  • Soft fruits and vegetables
  • Simple soup or broth
  • Herbal infusions: red raspberry leaf and nettle infusions are great for nourishment during labor
  • Water, water, & more water!
  • Labor Aid: a homemade electrolyte drink to keep energy up during labor (see recipe)Coconut water or other electrolyte drink
  • Honey sticks can be helpful

herbalinfusions
Herbal infusions

Labor Aid Recipe

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup raw honey
¼ tsp sea salt
2 crushed calcium/magnesium tablets
*Mix all ingredients together in a quart sized glass jar and add water (or nettle/raspberry leaf tea) to fill to the top. Put in fridge.

After Birth Nourishment:

Plan a meal for yourself in advance that is packed with protein and extra nutrition to
help recover after birth. You’ll need extra calories, protein, and an iron boost to help balance your body. Warm foods can provide an extra boost of healing energy for recovery. It helps to plan this meal in advance and inform your support person or partner of your wishes. Water, coconut water, and herbal infusions after birth are extremely helpful and necessary in the immediate postpartum recovery time.
If you have a doula, they can help you prepare this meal after birth.

 

What did you eat and drink during labor? What was your post-birth meal?


Source: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer

5 Tips for a Natural Hospital Birth

Are you planning a low-intervention birth? While home birth or birthing centers are great options for low risk women, some families feel more comfortable birthing in a hospital setting. Out-of-hospital birth is not the only option available for families choosing natural birth. It is totally possible to have a low-intervention birth in a hospital setting if you plan accordingly.

Here are some tips I have gathered from my experience as a birth doula and educator.

Take a childbirth class outside of the hospital

In my experience attending these classes, most (perhaps not all) of these classes focus on hospital policies, routine medical procedures, and what to expect when arriving to the hospital. This can be really important information for families, but it is not the kind of childbirth education that will help you learn about the birth process, make informed choices, and plan your birth.

Courses such as the Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, or other local childbirth courses can be extremely helpful in planning your birth. Many of these courses offer birth planning sessions while teaching you the natural birth process. Also, these courses are great for learning about the risks and benefits of routine medical interventions in birth and assisting you in making an informed choice about your care.

It’s also important to note that many of these classes can now be covered by your health insurance. So don’t let cost be a barrier to your education.

Ask your provider TONS of questions about their policies, procedures, and protocols

It is CRITICAL that you ask your provider as many questions as possible about their policies, procedures, and protocols for care. If you know you want to have a low-intervention or natural hospital birth, you need to ask your provider specific questions to make sure they are supportive of your choices. Don’t wait until the third trimester to ask these big questions!

Questions to ask include:

  • What is your cesarean rate?
  • Do you require your patients to use an IV in labor?
  • Do you support intermittent fetal monitoring?
  • What is your protocol if my water breaks before labor starts?
  • What procedures do you follow for pregnancies that go past the “due date”?
  • Do you support movement during labor?
  • What are my choices for using water in labor?
  • How do you feel about using a birth doula?
  • Do you support eating and drinking during birth?
  • What is your protocol for second stage labor (when mom is pushing)?
  • When do you perform cervical exams? How do you feel about your patients declining exams?
  • What is your position on induction of labor?

Don’t be afraid to choose another provider!

If you ask your provider all of your questions and you are unhappy with their answers, do not hesitate to find another provider. This extra step (I know it can be a hassle) can be crucial in having the birth experience you want for your family. Ideally, you want a provider who is on board with your decisions and comfortable with shared decision making. If anything doesn’t feel right, it’s probably because it isn’t right for you. Don’t be afraid to fire your doctor and find one that you love. Find local birth and parenting groups on Facebook and ask for recommendations from other moms in your area. Set up consultations and ask the tough questions.

Ask your provider about the risks and benefits of any procedure

If your provider suggests a medical procedure, be sure to ask them about the risks and benefits of the procedure. Demand informed consent. For example, if your doctor offers to break your water (artificial rupture of membranes), be sure to ask them what the risks and benefits are of this procedure.

BRAIN is a great acronym to use for informed consent. When faced with a medical procedure and you need to make a choice, consider the following:

B – What are the benefits?

R – What are the risks?

A – What are the alternatives?

I – What does your intuition say?

N – What happens if I do nothing?

Stay home as long as possible in labor

Most providers will tell you their policy and procedure for when they want you to arrive at the hospital. Statistically speaking, if you want a low-intervention birth, the best thing you can do is to labor at home as long as possible to avoid unnecessary early interventions. In the absence of other medical needs, consider staying home until your labor is in a strong established pattern. You can labor in the comfort of your home until you really need to be at the hospital. Be sure to discuss this with your provider along with your questions.

Hopefully this gave you some food for thought while planning a natural hospital birth! Be bold, and don’t be afraid to demand the care that you deserve.


(I struggle with using the term “natural” birth while discussing birth choices. I find it to be unclear, divisive, and particularly inciting for some families. When I use the term “low-intervention birth” I am specifically referring to a birth that reserves medical intervention for those cases where it is truly necessary or desired by the family. This is in opposition to treating all birthing women like machines, where providers routinely provide medical intervention to ALL birthing women in their care regardless of their individuality or desires.)