Why this podcast?
The Birthful podcast is a wonderful one for birth workers and families alike. Hosted by doula, author and postpartum educator, Adriana Lozada, Birthful provides birth stories as well as interviews with birth and postpartum experts.
Adriana is so enthusiastic and down to earth that listening to an episode is always a treat. Plus, with almost 200 episodes, there is a gold mine of information to be sourced.
Why this episode?
I was so happy to spot an episode on having a positive birth experience that included so much wisdom from Adriana’s many years as a doula.
Adriana jumps straight in so I will do the same!
Wish #1. Your waters do not release before labour starts
If you are planning a hospital birth this will usually put you on a bit of a clock because of the risk of infection. Adriana cites research that shows that left alone, 95% of women’s labours will start within 24 hours of their waters releasing.
You can minimise the risk of infection by asking your care providers to perform the bare minimum of cervical checks and, if your waters do not release by themselves you might want to look into the pros and cons of allowing them to be broken during labour.
Wish #2. Your Group B Strep Test is negative
This is not a standard test in every country but if you do test positive you will be administered one or more rounds of antibiotics during your labour. This may be uncomfortable for you and could impact your baby’s microbiome.
GBS and Candida like the same environments so you can look into ways to decrease your chances of developing GBS and there is some evidence that taking a probiotic during pregnancy could help too. For more info on that check out this episode of the Pregnancy Podcast.
Wish #3. You are well rested when labour starts
As we never really know exactly when labour will start, this seems like a tricky one. Adriana suggests that, during your last few weeks of pregnancy, you ask yourself, on a daily basis, –
”If labour were to start right now, would I feel rested enough?”
If the answer is no, then go take a nap!
Ok, so if you have other children at home who don’t nap, you might want to consider lying down with them and reading some books or maybe relaxing the screen time rules a little.
If you are having trouble sleeping at night, Adriana recommends going to bed at the same time each day and ensuring that the last 30 – 60 minutes before bed are relaxing. Low lights, meditate, read, whatever helps to prepare your body and mind for sleep (put your phone away!).
Wish #4. That you are free to move however and whenever you want during labour
As well as helping you to deal with your surges this will give your baby the space they need to rotate, align and descend. Dancing, squatting, walking, sitting on the toilet or birth ball, rocking on hands and knees, whatever you feel like trying is great.
Just keep moving.
Wish #5. Minimal to no cervical checks
Unless you want them. It can seem like we are getting information from these checks, solid data during an experience that feels out of our control.
However, Adriana points out (and I’m totally stealing this) that what they give us are purely snapshots of where we are at that exact moment in time.
A cervical check does not tell us how long you have to go because birth is not linear. It’s not neat and tidy with predictable numbers, facts and figures.
Turn off your thinking brain and allow your primal brain to take you through labour. An experienced care provider should be able to tell a lot by how you are moving, your breathing and the sounds you are making.
If you are comfortable with having a few checks consider asking your care provider not to share the cm of dilation with you. If it’s not what you were hoping for it can be discouraging and cause anxiety that could slow things down.
Wish #6. That you are free to eat and drink
As someone who lives in Europe, the idea of not being allowed to eat and drink during labour is, frankly, insane, but there are countries where this is still a thing.
This is why:
IF you needed emergency surgery and
IF you did not already have an epidural and
IF there was no time to administer one and
IF you threw up whilst under general anaesthetic you
MIGHT aspirate the vomit and you COULD die.
Since the 1940’s when this recommendation was made we have made considerable advances in keeping airways open, neutralising stomach acid etc….
Interestingly, labour slows down digestion so even if you eat nothing from your first surge onwards, there is no guarantee that you will have an empty stomach anyway.
Adriana shares that your risk of aspirating during labour are less than one in a million.
I would almost say that not fuelling your body during the marathon that is birth is more likely to see you in surgery in the first place.
The freedom to eat and drink should be something you ask about when selecting a hospital.
Wish #7. That you have all the time you need to birth your baby
As we said earlier, birth is not a linear process that we can predict and control. It takes twists and turns. It can slow down and speed up. As long as you and your baby are both fine, there should be no need to intervene.
I love the analogy Adriana makes to a flower opening or a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. We feel no need to speed up these natural processes so why don’t we have the same standards for our own births?
Wish #8. That you have a quiet, safe, cosy and peaceful place in which to birth
Oxytocin, the hormone that you need for your uterus to contract, flows when you feel safe, supported and calm. To underline the importance of this, Adriana directs you to a link that should convince you. Note, it’s probably not a video to view at work or with your kids!
Wish #9. A beautiful aligned baby
Birth is a team event. You are a huge part of it but so is your baby. Aligning and balancing your pelvis during pregnancy with the help of bodywork such as chiropractic care, utilising the Spinning Babies website, exercise and moving around during labour can all help.
Wish #10. No episiotomy and slow crowning
Research shows that routine episiotomies can make the situation worse. Ask about the episiotomy rate of your chosen care provider or hospital.
Natural tears generally heal better and allowing your baby’s head to be born slowly can reduce the risk of tearing or the severity of the tear. Ask your care provider to help you with this
Wish #11. That you have a birth team who truly support physiological birth and family-centred care
If you want to have a physiological birth it might be good to think of interventions not just in terms of the big things: induction; Pitocin; cesarean, but in terms of the small things as well.
Things like the staff asking you a ton of questions, lots of cervical checks, even engaging you in conversation.
Anything that takes you out of your primitive brain and into your thinking brain has the potential to slow down the release of Oxytocin and, in turn, your whole labour.
As the amazing Ina May Gaskin said –
”Let your monkey do it”
Barring an emergency situation, there should be a conversation with your care providers about anything they recommend and the final call is yours to make.
You are in charge of any decisions surrounding your birth. You need to have a team that you trust and who you know have your best interests at heart.
For more info on family-centred care click here.
Wish #12. That you have a doula!
I have to confess that I was very much hoping this would come up! Evidence suggests that having the support of a doula can not only improve your birth outcomes but even the health of your baby. A doula will not (and could not) take the place of your partner but can be a source of ideas for your partner and allow them to simply be there with you, to support and love you and be fully a part of a life-changing experience.
To wrap up
This was an interesting one. I went into it expecting tips but got wishes. I quickly realised, however, that there were plenty of tips as well.
I highly encourage you to listen to the full episode and to check out all the fantastic links that Adriana provides under the show notes. She has really gathered a ton of super important information and put it all in one place.
Who doesn’t want that?
Until next time!
Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.