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Cervical Exams: What You Need to Know

What’s the Big Deal About Cervical Exams?

At this point in your pregnancy, you have probably heard about cervical exams or checks. Maybe your friends or family members have had them and shared their experience. In this blog post, I’m going to talk all about the what and why of cervical exams. This post is part 3 of 4 in my Big Moments in Birth series. You can catch the webinar here!

What is a cervical exam?

Firstly, in a cervical exam/cervical check, your provider uses their fingers to examine and measure dilation (how open your cervix is) and effacement (how thin your cervix is). Many providers do these checks in the last weeks of pregnancy as part of their standard of care to check for progress before labor starts. In labor, these checks are offered at admission to your birthing place and then routinely thereafter.

Labor progress happens in many different ways. Baby’s position is changing and they are descending and rotating. Your cervix is softening, thinning, and dilating. It is NOT a naturally linear process.

Your cervix is NOT a crystal ball. Just because you are dilated x cm before labor starts, doesn’t necessarily mean anything about your true labor progress. Also, it is very difficult to predict and not incredibly accurate before labor starts.

Too many, poorly timed, or unwelcome cervical exams in labor can change the way your brain and hormones work in birth and affect your labor progress.

WHY???

  • Continuously measuring progress = overthinking
  • Can be a disruption to normal physiology – disturbs hormone balance and feelings of safety, privacy, and comfort
  • Can be discouraging if done too early or without enough time for real progress
  • They’re UNCOMFORTABLE and it disturbs your coping strategies for comfort
  • They can be extremely triggering for many people
  • Can introduce risk of infection

Before you have a cervical exam, you can ask the following questions:

  • How do I feel about having a cervical exam? Does this feel right to me? Use your intuition.
  • What information will this give me? Is it useful?
  • Will this information help me make a decision?
  • What are the risks and benefits of this exam right now?
  • Can I wait until later? Is there any reason I need this exam right now?
  • How will I feel if progress is less than I expected? Is this information going to be encouraging or defeating?

Consider the following ideas if you are wondering about whether a cervical exam is right for you:

Your body and your baby have no idea how to measure in centimeters. This is a man-made construct. Your body has no idea how to measure labor progress in numbers because labor is a holistic process that involves the body, mind, and spirit. Humans have been birthing since ancient times without any cervical exams.

Consider carefully what this measurement means to you. Progress can ebb and flow throughout labor and this is a snapshot of ONE moment in time. Ideally, you are getting the right information at the right time.

If you arrive at your birth place and your exam does not show that you are in active labor (6cm+), YOU CAN GO HOME!


Are you thinking…”tell me more!”?? Check out my ULTIMATE Holistic Birth Course.

In this course, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to birth your baby in peace and power. I’m going to give you my expert insight based on years of experience as a doula, educator, and mother of four. You’ll receive expert level knowledge to help you radically transform your birth experience. 

Along with your childbirth education, you’ll also receive AMAZING resources to help you achieve your goal of a calm and confident birth (A $579 value!).

childbirth education in buffalo


If you want to learn more, I’m giving a FREE webinar called 5 Totally Doable Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth on January 27th at 7pm. In this webinar, I’m going to give you some totally doable tips to support your goal of a healthy pregnancy and birth. Learn nutrition hacks, how to support your microbiome, ways to incorporate natural movement, and relaxation strategies. Sign up and receive a FREE set of relaxation audio files!


Want to stay up to date with new offerings, resources, products, and more? Sign up for my newsletter and get the latest updates. If you sign up, you’ll receive a free birth planning guide to help you plan the birth of your dreams!



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How to Handle Early Labor Like a Boss

What to Expect and What NOT to Do!

Are you wondering what early labor might be like? Do you feel unsure of what to expect from your body? What if you don’t realize you’re in labor? When I was pregnant with my first baby, I would have given anything to have someone lay this out for me in realistic terms.

In this post, I’m going to give it to you straight. I’m going to tell you all about what early labor is like. Next, I’ll tell you all about what to do to support your birth to have the best experience possible. Also, you’ll learn about what NOT to do to ensure you’re in great shape for the birth of your dreams.

Early labor is the LONGEST part of labor!

Firstly, this is the time of labor where your body is starting to prepare to birth your baby. Contractions are manageable and becoming more regular and intensifying.

In this time, lots of amazing physical, chemical, and emotional changes are happening.

  • Your cervix is thinning and dilating to prepare for birth.
  • Your uterus is contracting and your baby is descending and moving.
  • Oxytocin (love hormone) & endorphin (pain relief) levels are starting to increase and your brain waves are starting to slow.
  • You’re beginning to emotionally prepare for the birth experience and seek comfort in a calm, supportive, and nurturing environment

Secondly, your early labor phase could last anywhere from a few hours to a day or more. Sometimes, it seems like it’s never going to end. I promise you, at some point things will intensify and roll right into active labor. The KEY is to stay as strong and rested as possible for when your labor finally does intensify to the next level.

During this time, you can support your labor by:

  • RESTING! Sleep and rest when you can. Be prepared to run the marathon of birth.
  • Eat & drink well. Your uterus is a muscular organ, so let’s feed it like one.
  • RELAX – practice your relaxation strategies. Take a bath. Practice breathing. Listen to birth affirmations.
  • Massage – Intimacy – Loving Touch
  • Create a calm & peaceful environment: quiet sounds, slow and gentle movements, music, nurturing touch, comforting & supportive people, aromatherapy

IGNORE IT until you can’t ignore it any longer.

During this time, it’s best to avoid:

  • Getting anxious/tense/fearful
  • Trying hard to “make labor start”
  • Strenuous/tiring activity
  • Rushing to your birth place before active labor starts
  • Surrounding yourself with the wrong people
  • Focusing too much on timing contractions
  • Overthinking/overdoing

If you are finding yourself in a very long and exhausting early labor phase, it’s important to consider seeking out support. Firstly, this is highly individual. In last week’s webinar, a participant asked me what I felt qualifies as a “too long” early labor phase. I don’t think there’s one answer. “Too long” is when you really feel like you can’t continue like this, you can’t rest or sleep anymore, and you feel like you need support. Secondly, communicating with your support team will help you stay strong and confident no matter what.

If your early labor feels extra long, then consider the following:

  • Chiropractic adjustment
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Discuss support strategies with your provider and doula
  • Take a gentle walk (change the energy)
  • Take a nap in bed with pillows
  • Belly wrapping, tuck and lift between contractions – check out spinning babies!

It’s important to understand that your body is working to get ready for labor to kick in. This is also true even if it feels like nothing is happening. Labor progresses in many individual ways. Know that your early labor WILL turn into active labor, and you’ll be strong, powerful, and ready for the next phase.


Like what you learned? Is this really resonating with you? I’m holding a free webinar on January 27th at 7pm. In this webinar, I’m going to give you 5 TOTALLY DOABLE tips for a healthy pregnancy and birth. I’m going to share my expert tips to help you achieve your goal of a healthy pregnancy and a confident birth. No fancy supplements or workout routines required! Space is limited, so sign up today!


Sign up for my newsletter to receive updates, new offerings, and be the first to sign up for webinars and classes. Learn more about how we can work together. Sign up TODAY and receive a free birth planning guide to help you plan the birth of your dreams.

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4 Big Moments in Birth – Webinar

Did you miss last week’s live webinar? Don’t worry, I recorded it for you!

In my webinar, 4 Big Moments in Birth, I talk all about 4 big moments in the birth process that challenge us in our birth experience so you can handle them like a boss.

Learn how to handle:

👉Going past your due date

👉Long early labor

👉Cervical exams

👉Second stage (pushing)

I give you my insight on how you can handle these potential turning points in your birth plan so you can have the best experience possible.

Check it out here!

Like what you learned? Sign up for my mailing list to stay up to date on new courses, resources, offerings, and more!

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Going Past Your Due Date: An Alternative Perspective

How to Stay On Course for the Birth You Really Want

past your due date

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to dive deep into 4 big moments in birth that challenge our plans for birth. Firstly, we’ll look at how going past your due date can affect your choices in birth. Also, I’m going to share how due dates are typically calculated (which can be sketchy). I will offer my insight on this common challenge in birth. Lastly, I’ll offer you some questions to ask your care provider so that you can make sure you’re both on the same page for birth.

How are due dates calculated anyway?

Most providers use a system developed in the 18th century called Nagele’s rule. To calculate your EDD according to Naegele’s rule, you add 7 days to the first day of your last period, and then count forward 9 months (or count backwards 3 months). This is equal to counting forward 280 days from the date of your last period.

BUT this assumes that all people have 28 day cycles. And as time went on, this rule became adopted in a variety of ways to the due date calendar used by most doctors today. This method adds 7 days to the first day of your last period, and then counts forward 9 months—a rule that is not based on any current evidence, and may not have even been intended by Naegele.

Sounds sketchy? Yeah, kinda.

Imagine this scenario…

•You’re totally psyched about having a great pregnancy and you’re prepared for birth. You’re feeling confident, calm, and supported. You’ve practiced every strategy and tip and you’re ready to rock your birth.

•You hit 39 weeks and your provider says, “let’s schedule your 41 week induction just in case!”

How does that feel?

Multiple studies show that the true average length of a pregnancy is 40 weeks and 5 days for first pregnancies and 40 weeks and 3 days for subsequent pregnancies.

What to do when you go past your due date…

Firstly, there are many different ways and models providers use to support pregnancies that go “past your due date.” For a variety of reasons, some providers are more supportive than others and that is based on their experience, preferences, beliefs, and model of care. Secondly, there are a variety of different personal risk factors involved when faced with an induction for going past your due date. Each family has a unique set of needs and risk factors in their pregnancy.

It is very common for doctors and midwives to recommend an induction of labor for pregnancies going beyond 41, or sometimes even 40 weeks.

If you’re concerned about going past your due date, then consider doing the following:

1) Advocate for INFORMED CONSENT if your provider suggests induction for going past your due date. This means that you are given information on all the benefits, risks, and alternatives and you are able to make a decision based on what is right for YOU. This must be free of coercion from your care provider. Ideally, you want to know your provider’s policies on going past your due date BEFORE you’re at that point.

2) If your provider is recommending an induction for non-medical reasons because your pregnancy has gone past your due date, consider asking the following questions:

•How accurate is my due date? Is it determined from my last period or through an early ultrasound? (early ultrasound is most accurate)

•What is your induction rate?

•What are the benefits and risks of an induction?

•Are there any alternatives?

•Ask yourself – how do I feel about this? Use your intuition.

•Is there any reason I can’t wait for labor to start on its own? What is the risk of waiting for labor to start?

•How might an induction affect my labor?  How can it affect my baby?

Asking these important questions can help ensure that you are on the same page as your provider. Also, it will help you be as prepared as possible so you can make the best choice for your family. We’ll look at 3 other big moments in birth over the next several weeks so you can navigate common challenges in birth like the birthing boss you are.


Learn More!

Do you want to learn more about how to have a physiologic birth? I’m offering a FREE WEBINAR where I’m going to discuss 4 BIG MOMENTS in Birth and give you strategies to handle them like a boss. In this webinar, I talk all about 4 challenges that come up in birth and give you ALL the tools you need to have a confident and powerful birth experience. Webinar is December 30th at 7pm. Check it out! Space is limited.

Sign up for my newsletter to receive updates, new offerings, and be the first to sign up for webinars and classes. Learn more about how we can work together. Sign up TODAY and receive a free birth planning guide to help you plan the birth of your dreams.

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The Three Zones of Birth: A Holistic Perspective

A Closer Look at Physiologic Birth

What are the Three Zones of Birth?

In this series, I have been writing a lot about physiologic birth and what that really means. Birth is NORMAL and a HEALTHY part of life. In part 2, we’re going to talk all about three zones of birth through which labor progresses – the physical, chemical, and emotional zones of birth. Also, I’ll offer you some pro tips to support labor progress in each zone.

three zones of irth

Firstly, birth is often portrayed as a physical process, and the role of the provider and birthing person is to simply focus on physical (body based) measures. In the medical (or sometimes called “technocratic”) model of maternity care, the body is viewed as a purely physical machine and the focus is on using a timeline and interventions to control the physical process of the body. Also, this model mainly ignores the chemical and emotional zones through which labor progresses and separates the body from the birthing person’s mind and spirit.

Secondly, looking at birth through the three zones places an emphasis on birth as a holistic process. Birth progresses as a holistic trio through all of these areas, and each part is also interdependent upon the others.

The Physical Zone of Birth

The physical zone of birth involves all the process of the body. For example, your uterus, pelvis, tissues, ligaments, muscles, and your general health status support labor progress through the physical zone.

How to Help:

  • Movement: Incorporate daily natural movement and exercise into your personal routines. Use movement in labor by changing positions, using upright positions, and opening your pelvis (check out this article on STATION during birth for more ideas).
  • Pay close attention to your nutrition in pregnancy to keep your body functioning optimally
  • Seek out chiropractic care or body work to support balance and also release tension in your body

The Chemical/Mental Zone of Birth

Secondly, the next zone of physiologic birth is called the chemical zone. In the chemical zone, we are talking about the hormones and mental processes involved in labor and birth. Also, your hormones and thinking can greatly affect your labor progress and postpartum experience.

This is also where we move from the thinking brain (neocortex) to the primal brain in birth.

How to Help:

  • Create a calm and peaceful labor environment: dim lights, quiet sounds, personal comforts, music, aromatherapy, etc.
  • Boost oxytocin vibes: comfort & nurturing touch, relaxation breathing/meditation/visualization, love/intimacy, be sure to have a loving and comforting support person (partner, doula, etc)
  • Limit interruptions and distractions in the birthing process. Avoid getting stuck in your thinking brain and GET PRIMAL and GO WILD. Let it flow and let go.

The Emotional Zone of Birth

Lastly, the third zone of labor can be understood as the emotional zone. In the emotional zone of birth, we are referring to all of the big feelings, fears, worries, and mental blocks that may occur in the process. Also, these arise during pregnancy and can carry into the birth process if they are not supported.

How to Help:

  • Make it a priority to discover your fears and dive deep into them BEFORE birth. You can also start a journal or consider working with a mental health professional during pregnancy.
  • Look closely at your coping mechanisms and triggers. Talk about it with your partner and support team.
  • Carefully consider your birth place, provider and support team. What do you really want this to look like? How do you want to feel? Ask yourself these questions BEFORE birth.

The Three Zones of Birth Work Together

All three of the zones of labor are highly interrelated. Progress in one area greatly impacts progress in all the other areas. Birth is not just a physical process. It is a holistic process that involves the body, mind, and spirit. For example, supporting the emotional zone of birth through examining our fear and coping mechanisms can greatly support our ability to produce oxytocin in labor, which then facilitates progress in the physical zone of birth.

A supportive birth team will help you to support all three zones of birth through pregnancy, early labor, active labor, birth, and postpartum. 


Do you want to learn more about how to have a physiologic birth? I’m offering a FREE WEBINAR where I’m going to discuss 4 BIG MOMENTS in Birth and give you strategies to handle them like a boss. In this webinar, I talk all about 4 challenges that come up in birth and give you ALL the tools you need to have a confident and powerful birth experience. Webinar is December 30th at 7pm. Check it out! Space is limited.

Sign up for my newsletter to receive updates, new offerings, and be the first to sign up for webinars and classes. Learn more about how we can work together. Sign up TODAY and receive a free birth planning guide to help you plan the birth of your dreams.

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Physiologic Birth: Going Beyond “Natural” Birth

What is Physiologic Birth? Part 1 of 2

You might have heard this phrase kicking around. Physiologic birth is often called a “natural” birth. Many people assume that this is a birth for idealistic hippies, crunchy parents, or those with an axe to grind against the medical system. While this may be true for some people, it’s actually a really beautiful union between the science and art of the human body.

Physiologic birth is the idea that birth is a normal and healthy human process that proceeds best without intervention in that process. Birth unfolds best when it is undisturbed and led by our body’s innate design. It is physiologic in the same way as breathing or pooping. A healthy body performs these functions without a need for intervention, management, or external control. This is also true with birth.

We birth from the primal centers of our brain.

One of the best ways to derail normal birth physiology is to get stuck in your THINKING brain. We don’t overthink the breathing process. We simply have a natural urge and our body signals our next breath. This is a normal function of a healthy body. In your daily life, does an external force closely control how you poop? Breathe? Digest? Birth is a normal human event in the same way that other functions are handled normally and easily by our body.

The Three Zones of Birth

Firstly, we are often taught that birth is simply a physical process. In this model, the body works alone without consideration of the other holistic and internal realms of the birthing person. We don’t birth with our body alone, separate from our mind and spirit. There are three zones of physiologic birth. The three zones of birth are the physical, chemical, and emotional zones. All three of these zones work together to support a healthy birth.

The Physical Zone of Birth

The first zone of physiologic birth is the physical zone. This refers to all of the body’s functions in labor and birth, your baby’s position, tension in the body, and the actions of the uterus and tissues. Over time, your uterus contracts and the muscles lengthen and move upward as your baby rotates down through your pelvis. In the physical zone, your pelvis, uterus, pelvic floor, ligaments and tendons, and your baby work together through the birth process. Your nutrition, health, and movement during pregnancy and birth greatly support the physical zone of birth. 

The Chemical Zone

The chemical zone is the second zone of physiologic birth. In the chemical zone, we are talking about the hormones and mental processes involved in labor and birth. The hormones of birth including oxytocin, melatonin, catecholamines, endorphins, relaxin, adrenaline, and prolactin greatly affect the labor process. The chemical zone is where we get deep into the altered states of birth and we move into deep theta-delta brain waves. Also, this is where we move from the thinking brain (neocortex) to the primal brain in birth. Our movement through the chemical zone in labor can greatly affect the progress of physiologic birth. This is where we want to support normal hormonal processes and shift our brain waves to facilitate labor progress.

The Emotional Zone

Lastly, the third zone of labor can be understood as the emotional zone. In the emotional zone of birth, we are referring to all of the big feelings, fears, worries, and mental blocks that may occur in the process. These often arise during pregnancy and can carry into the birth process if they are not supported. Unresolved fears in our emotional zone can create tension in the physical zone and impede normal labor progress. In the emotional zone of birth, we process and deal with all of our triggers, fears, and other emotions that may arise in the process.

All three of the zones of labor are highly interrelated. Progress in one area greatly impacts progress in all the other areas. Birth is not just a physical process. It is a holistic process that involves the body, mind, and spirit. For example, supporting the emotional zone of birth through examining our fear and coping mechanisms can greatly support our ability to produce oxytocin in labor, which then facilitates progress in the physical zone of birth. A supportive birth team can also help you to support all three zones of birth through pregnancy, early labor, active labor, birth, and postpartum. 

Stay tuned for an in-depth look into each zone of birth in the next several blog articles!

Live Webinar!

I’m hosting a LIVE webinar December 30th that dives DEEP into this topic and more. In this webinar, I’ll talk all about 4 major moments in birth where physiology often goes awry. These 4 moments are often turning points in labor, where we are met with a challenge in birth. Learn how to cope with these BIG moments in birth and support your body to do what it knows how to do. I’ll go through 4 challenging moments in birth and and also discuss how to stay on course for the healthy birth you desire.

If you want to find more content like this, keep in touch, and get exclusive access to new offerings, then sign up for my newsletter!

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Check out the resources in my shop to help you plan your birth! There’s a birth planning guide just for you!

The COVID-19 Pandemic in Pregnancy & Birth

How to Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pregnancy is such an exciting time. Each milestone is a new magical moment in the mystery. Pregnancy and birth already come with their own set of anxieties and challenges. You’re wondering what to expect from birth, and now you’re forced to navigate your options during a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic creates a whole new set of worries and challenges for families during the childbearing year.

My Pregnancy and Birth Experience in the COVID-19 Pandemic

I was in the middle of my pregnancy when COVID-19 started to creep it’s way through the U.S. My 20-week ultrasound was coming up a few weeks after New York State instituted business shutdowns and restrictions. I really needed that information, and I was afraid that I would lose access to care.

One of the most challenging parts of this pregnancy was the lack of interaction with close family members, friends, and support professionals. I was home with a 5 yr old, 3 yr old, and 1 yr old, and I was absolutely exhausted without any support from anyone. It was incredibly difficult to get to any appointments because I lost my childcare at the time. My husband worked from home (and still does, now permanently) and that was very helpful.

This experience was incredibly isolating and lonely. I was stressed that something would happen and I would lose my prenatal care. I felt terrified of a transfer of care to a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, I lived in the stress, anxiety, and fear zone.

I found great comfort in caring for myself during this pregnancy. My kids enjoyed checking in with our baby with a fetoscope. I took very diligent care of myself and respected my intuition regarding my choices. I also gained a great sense of confidence and power through caring for myself.

Doula Support in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Also, as a DOULA, I walked with many of my clients through this time. Hospitals restricted visitation, and infection control policies initially banned doulas from supporting clients in person. Often, these policies seemed to change whimsically and it was incredibly difficult to prepare families for the challenges ahead.

Thankfully, New York State has now recognized doulas as essential members of the maternity care team. If you aren’t even sure if you can be there, then it is incredibly difficult to prepare an expecting family. As a birth worker, it stoked some of my greatest fears and deep feelings. Also, hospital policies changed all the time and were not consistent from location to location.

As a doula, this scenario presents many challenges. Firstly, we know that birth is ruled by physiology. Moving to a birth place is one of the “phases” in birth where physiology often goes awry. This is especially true when you don’t know what to expect, and even more true if you aren’t sure you’ll be supported. It destroys your confidence, peace, and power.

Tips to Support Your Birth Experience

I know you’re probably feeling anxious, concerned, and unsure of what to expect. Are you wondering how to have the best birth experience right now? I’d like to offer some ideas to consider for anyone who is pregnant and birthing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Release what you can’t control.

This time calls us all to move internally and go deep into our inner selves. Ask yourself the tough questions and move within. Discover what it is that you truly want. Trust your intuition. In an uncontrollable world, you can control your choices, actions, and mindset. Plan to be flexible and focus on what is in your power to control. Even in the pandemic, you are able to get in touch with what you really want and work towards that. Check out this past blog post to help you hone your intuition while planning your dream birth.

Care For Yourself

Focus on self care during this pandemic. Firstly, it will help you support a healthy pregnancy and birth. Caring for yourself includes caring for your nutrition, reducing stress, and moving your body regularly. Secondly, caring for yourself builds your connection with your body and hones your intuition. It can build confidence and help you tune in to your body and your baby. All of these things will help boost your immune system as well and keep you and your baby healthy.

Stay up to date on policies at your birthplace.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask your provider for a complete explanation of their current policies for prenatal appointments and do the same for your birth place. Hospital policies can change quickly, so don’t be afraid to call and ask about anything you may be concerned about. Make a plan for any “what-ifs” that may be swirling in your mind. Talk to your support team about any changes in plan and they can help you have the best birth experience possible. Also, know your rights and options ahead of time in case of any unexpected circumstances. Evidence Based Birth is a fantastic resource to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. They offer a sample informed consent form for refusal to separate birthing parent and infant.

Get a doula.

Your birth doula can help you navigate your options and provide support as you advocate for your rights as a birthing person. We attend births throughout the region and we are familiar with navigating current policies and procedures. Also, your doula can help you relax and find peace of mind in any unexpected situation.

I have my own personal experience of going through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum during COVID-19. I deeply understand the challenges families are facing, and I was able to have a calm and confident birth despite the challenges. You can do it too.

Did you experience pregnancy and birth during the COVID-19 pandemic? I would love to hear about your experience.

Want to GO DEEP and dive into your dreams for birth? What is it that you really want? How do you want to feel? Let’s make that a reality. I have a birth planning guide available in my shop that will walk you through the journey of planning a calm, comfortable, and confident birth experience.

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How to Heal Perineal Tears – Ideas to Bring Comfort

Soothe Your Postpartum Bottom 

heal perineal tears

Fear of tearing is one of the most common concerns I hear from my doula clients. Learning how to heal perineal tears is important to create the best postpartum experience possible. Everyone wants to know how to avoid tearing in birth. Check out last week’s post for some tips and insight into how you can reduce your chances of suffering a perineal tear. Now let’s talk about how to heal perineal tears.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, a tear is impossible to avoid. Birthing people who are having their first baby and those who have a forceps or vacuum delivery are more likely to tear. Also, you are more likely to experience a tear if you have a baby in a posterior position or with a hand or arm up. Sometimes it’s just unpreventable. It happens. Your tissues were made to stretch and heal as necessary. Even if you do tear, it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong. Your body was made to heal and so it will.  

The Road to Recovery – Find Support to Heal a Perineal Tear

Some types of tears are more uncomfortable and challenging to heal than others. Firstly, if you experienced tearing or have other discomfort, I highly encourage you to seek out the support of a pelvic floor therapist. This professional is trained in techniques to support recovery, strengthening, and healing of the pelvic floor. 10/10 I absolutely recommend this as a crucial step in postpartum recovery. Many other countries include pelvic floor therapy as part of their routine health care for people in the postpartum time.  

First degree tears are simply skin abrasions and will generally heal easily on their own with a little support. Second degree tears involve some deeper tissue and are generally stitched by your provider to support healing. Third and fourth degree tears are much deeper (and rare) and require special care for healing and recovery.  

Ways to Heal Perineal Tears 

Sitz Bath 

Sitz baths can be a great way to sooth the tender tissues and promote healing. There are a variety of ways to do this. You can use a small tub from the drug store that goes on your toilet. Alternatively, you can fill a shallow bathtub with warm water. Sitz baths can also be very healing for hemorrhoids as well. I find that it’s soothing for any kind of irritation or discomfort you may have. If you’re like me and get rashes from wearing pads (ugh), it’s really helpful for that as well.  

A sitz bath helps increase circulation to the area, which then stimulates healing. Also, sitz baths help relax the tissues and relieve pain and tension. Added herbs and minerals can help the body in this process. Herbs such as lavender and yarrow can help cleanse any wounds as well.  

After birth, I often prepare an herbal sitz bath for the birthing person. I love to reserve some of the herbs to use for a peri bottle wash as well. It’s such a sweet, nurturing, and healing ritual. 

You can create an herbal sitz bath using the following herbs: comfrey*, yarrow, calendula, lavender, plantain, uva ursi, shepherd’s purse, and red raspberry leaf. Add some epsom salt to support healing as well. I have a recipe that I make with these herbs that is available to all my clients.

(*As an herbalist, I want to point out that comfrey should possibly be avoided with very deep tearing. If you want to know more, ask me why.) 

Healing Spray & Wash 

Another way to support your healing is to use a healing spray after using the bathroom. Use your peri bottle to rinse after using the toilet. Then spray with an herbal wash. You can buy products specifically for this purpose. You can create an herbal wash using herbs like calendula and witch hazel. Also, you can simply brew some of your herbal sitz bath and put it in your peri bottle to rinse as well.  

Clean & Soft Products 

Consider ditching mainstream disposable postpartum pads and diapers. These products are bleached and contain many toxins that can be absorbed into the body. They can cause irritation and inhibit your body’s ability to heal properly. Instead, choose products that are made from soft organic cotton and free from chemicals. This will greatly support your healing process. There are a wide variety of small businesses that sell cloth pads.  

Rest 

Rest as much as possible. Stay well-nourished and consume healthy amounts of collagen and omega-3 rich foods. Rest, nutrition, and hydration will all support your body in the healing process.  

What was your experience like with healing a perineal tear? What helped? How did it go? I’d love to hear your story.  

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! Show me more!” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to manifest the best birth possible.

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Three Tips to Avoid Perineal Tearing in Birth

Worried about perineal tearing in birth? Consider these ideas…

One of the most common fears my clients express has to do with perineal tearing in birth. So many women are afraid to “tear” during childbirth, and rightfully so! If you’re anxious about it, you’re not alone.

What are perineal tears?

Perineal tearing happens when the tissues surrounding the perineum tear during birth as the baby passes through. Some tears are very minor and require simple comforting care, while others are larger and deeper and require sutures from your provider. Perineal tears are graded from 1st degree (skin abrasion) to 4th degree (passing through the anal sphincter and tissues). The vast majority of tears are minor and can heal simply on their own.

Perineal tearing is very common. It happens in approximately 44% – 79% of all births. However, less than 3% of these tears are third or fourth degree tears. You are more likely to experience tearing if you are having your first baby or have a vacuum or forceps delivery.

Tears can range from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful. Also, the tissues in the vulva/perineal area don’t always numb well for sutures, which can make repairs painful as well. The healing process can be very rough and most mothers report it as very uncomfortable. It’s important to understand how to avoid tearing in order to have the best birth and postpartum experience possible!

Perineal tears suck! (There, I said it!) Who wants to deal with that?

There are many factors to consider when examining the topic of perineal tears. Firstly, there is a genetic component that gives some tissues greater ability to stretch, flex, and heal than others. Secondly, birthing choices and practices can offer you a better chance (but no guarantee) of avoiding this discomfort. Also, your baby’s size and position can also make you more likely to experience a tear. Babies who are born with hands/arms up or are in an alternative position at birth can make you more likely to tear as well. There’s no BIG SECRET to avoid tearing, and sometimes it just happens no matter what you to. Awareness of a few simple ideas can give you insight to prevention.

3 Ways to Avoid Perineal Tearing

Nutrition, Movement, and Body Love

As you are well aware, nutrition is critical to support a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. Nutrition is one of the most important things you can do to support your journey. If we think of labor like a marathon, then we can easily see how it is important to prepare your body.

Consumption of adequate protein, collagen, and omega-3 fats can help support healthy tissue and muscles. Also, good hydration will help keep your skin and tissue healthy and support circulation. These same elements can support healing after birth as well.

Movement is a critical component to the health of our bodies every day, and especially during pregnancy. Pelvic floor exercises that practice strengthening and relaxing your muscles can help prepare your body for birth. Natural daily movements, proper alignment, and incorporating squatting into your movement routine can help improve circulation, strength, and flexibility.

Although controversial, perineal massage can help prevent tears during birth. There are many resources available to learn how to do this. In this massage, you are essentially stretching and preparing your perineal tissues for birth. In one study, mothers who were randomly assigned to do perineal massage experienced a 10% decreased risk of tears that required stitches. This benefit applied to first time mothers only. Research shows that this practice is not hugely beneficial, but something to consider if it resonates with you.

Supportive Birth Positions

Birthing position matters. Imagine how it feels while you are squatting. You can feel the tissues across your perineal area tighten and stretch. This is great for preparing your body, but might not always be the best at preventing tearing. Some research shows that upright positions could potentially slightly increase the risk of second degree tears. However, it lowers your risk of episiotomy.

If you have an epidural, lying flat on your back can increase your risk of tearing. Using a side-lying position while pushing can help prevent tears. One study reported that the use of a side-lying position increased the rate of having an intact perineum (no tears) from 12% to 40%. Getting off your back is beneficial for most birthing people, as it also allows your sacrum to move and make more room for your baby to move through the pelvis.

Listen to Your Body

One of the most effective ways to prevent tearing is to listen to your body. Following principles of physiological birth allows us to listen to our body’s cues about when and how to push. Wait to push until you feel the urge to do so and avoid coached pushing. Coached pushing means that someone is telling you when and how to push rather than listening to your body’s cues. If you wait for the urge to push (fetal ejection reflex), then your body will give you important feedback. As your baby is crowning, you can slow down and use your breath to move your baby through slowly.

As your doula, I can help you plan some strategies to prevent tearing. Let’s get this into your birth plan and ease your mind. We can work together to manifest the best birth experience possible. Even if you do experience tearing (which sometimes happens no matter what you do), we can create some healing and nourishing strategies to get you feeling your best.

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Saying “YES!” to Your Birth Plan

Moving From NO to YES in Your Birth Plan

Everyone talks about writing the birth plan. It’s one of the most common questions and topics that come up in doula work. Birth planning is so important! You need to discover your options and learn what is right for your family. However, I often see birth plans written based on what a family doesn’t want. NO to all the things. It’s such a powerful phrase and it is so necessary.

When we plan our birth from a NO perspective, we are planning from a place of fear. Fear creates negative energy that can adversely affect the hormones of labor. We can actually be so busy focusing on the “no” that our body has a hard time saying “yes.”

Birth Hormones

There are several hormones that are involved in the birth process. Birth hormones help prepare your body for labor, tell the uterus to contract, help us counteract the pain of labor, and support bonding with our newborn.

Firstly, oxytocin is a hormone that is also known as the “love hormone.” It creates feelings of love, well-being, comfort, and nurturing. Oxytocin increases during pregnancy and majorly increases during birth and tells your uterus to contract. Also, it supports healthy uterine contractions after birth to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. A quiet, peaceful, and calm environment supports the flow of oxytocin to support a healthy birth. Oxytocin is also that feel-good vibe you get when snuggling and nursing your baby.

Secondly, endorphins are calming and pain relieving hormones. Endorphins skyrocket during the birth process and can produce altered states of consciousness that support physiological birth. They also play a role in nurturing and bonding with your baby.

Thirdly, adrenaline is a hormone that is released when we are under stress. This is fight or flight mode. When we are experiencing fear, adrenaline kicks in and tells us to FIGHT or FLIGHT. Adrenaline actively suppresses oxytocin and endorphins. This happens when we experience fear, stress, or anxiety.

Move from NO to Yes

Many families start their birth plan by thinking about what they don’t want to happen or what interventions they don’t want. For many families, this is based on past trauma or the experiences of others. It’s for a good reason! But when we are in the NO mind, we are living in fear. Then, we are planning our experience from the perspective of our fear.

Fear creates an incredible amount of adrenaline. If you’re trying to plan a calm and gentle birth, then the last thing you want is to be living from a place of fear. It’s taking you into fight or flight mode. Adrenaline can impede labor progress, make labor more difficult to deal with, and interfere with the good vibes you are trying to create for your family.

Learning what you can say YES to is equally empowering. Discover what you really want can help you plan your birth by saying YES. What is it that you really want? What do you want your experience to look like? You can plan your birth based on what feels good and right, rather than saying no to what you fear.

Your birth doula can help you move from the place of fear. We can work together to create a vision for your birth that you can say YES to.

If you’re thinking, “This sounds great! But how do I do that?” then you definitely need to check out my new guide. My Birth Planning Guide is up in the shop. This is THE GUIDE you need to plan your dream birth.

Want to learn more about how we can work together? Sign up for my email list to receive the best pregnancy, birth, and baby tips in your email inbox.

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