If you are an expectant parent, especially for the first time, you are probably wondering what to expect during the labor and delivery process. These labor and delivery tips may prove helpful as you prepare to give birth. At Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny we support new and expecting parents with overnight newborn care, daytime newborn care services, and parent education.
Birthing Education Classes
These classes have become more popular with today’s increasingly busy schedule for expecting moms. These classes are a great resource for information regarding the labor and delivery process. Though they may not focus on breathing techniques as much, as long as the class is fitting your needs, that is more than enough!
Birth plans, what are they? Birth plans are a general overview of how you would like to experience labor. It is a good idea to have an overview of what you would like your birthing experience to be like. The key to a birth plan is to be flexible. Each labor is different, not only from woman to woman, but also from pregnancy to pregnancy. Therefore flexibility is key when approaching a birth plan!
Is this Labor or Braxton Hicks?
True labor contractions get stronger, last longer, and are closer together. They will also not subside when you get up and move around or drink water. If you’re not sure if you are in labor, time the contractions from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next to determine if they are regular. Regular contractions that are increasing in frequency and intensity may be a sign that you are in labor. When in doubt, contact your healthcare provider.
Natural Pain Relief
- Swaying back and forth or ‘dancing’ with your partner can help change the shape of the pelvis. Allow gravity to slowly move your baby downward and alleviate some of the pressure you feel during labor while providing you and your partner with an intimate moment.
- Focusing on pattern breathing can help distract you from the contraction pain
- Changing positions is a natural pain relief: hands and knees, squatting, sitting on a birth stool, rock on all fours, squat and lean back on husband sitting in chair, go on knees and lean forward on exercise ball, little bounces on ball between contractions.
- Using aromatherapy can also be helpful during labor. Lavender and rosemary oils are especially relaxing, while lemon and peppermint can reduce nausea. Have your partner put some on a cotton swab under your nose or near your pillow.
- As you’re pushing, try to keep your mouth open; don’t hold your breath. This will help you push more effectively. When your contraction is over, take a big, cleansing breath and let yourself relax. Now is a good opportunity for your partner to help you. Have him lightly touch your abdominal skin, over the uterus. This will release endorphins which decreases the sensation of pain.
Medical Pain Relief
- Systemic medications and narcotics are used to reduce pain but can make you dizzy, sleepy, and you need to stay in bed. It goes into your bloodstream so it will cross the placenta line to your baby. Unlike the epidural it won’t interfere with pushing. Most women end up getting an epidural during labor and delivery because it’s not enough.
- Epidural is a local and continuous pain medication and the amount can be adjusted based on your pain. You may need help timing when to push and it can lead to longer labor due to not feeling the lower half of the body. It doesn’t go into your bloodstream, but some of it does reach the baby. It won’t cause nausea or headache, which the systemic drug may; but an epidural can make you itchy.
- Spinal block goes directly into the spinal fluid and only lasts a few hours. It is given in a single injection and only a tiny amount reaches the baby. This can be given late in labor because it can be given quickly. You won’t be able to get out of bed and the amount cannot be altered, so if it is given too close to delivery then pushing will be more difficult.
Ways to Progress Labor
- Start breathing exercises
- Relax, stretch and if you can, walk!
- Rock on the birthing ball
- Sip on water or ice chips
- Before delivery look at the parking situation at the hospital and plan where you will park
- Time contractions and create a log (apps are great too!)
- If the hospital bag is not already packed, start packing
- Offer support
- Call the hospital and have your log ready to report, also have mom nearby to speak to the triage nurse directly.
- Support your laboring mama both physically and emotionally
- Massages help release endorphins and promote slow, deep breaths
- Limit phones, T.V., and screens
- Offer praise and encouragement
Eating and Drinking During Labor
You can drink clear liquids during labor and eat in early labor. A wave of nausea can bring up your last meal. You cannot eat during active labor in case you need general anesthesia. Ask if you are hungry.
Stages of Labor
- Early Labor – Your water breaks and you have contractions as your cervix is dilating. Usually most of this stage happens at home before you go to the hospital.
- Active Labor – Once the cervix is 4 cm dilated (ritz cracker) you should be at the hospital. This stage lasts 4-8 hours. Active labor has contractions of 45-60 seconds that are 3-5 minutes apart.
- Transitional Labor – The cervix is 8 cm dilated (top of soda can) and contractions are 60-90 seconds and two minutes apart. This is the shortest, but most intense phase. It can last a few minutes or a few hours for the cervix to become 10cm dilated. If you have an epidural you won’t feel any of this. If you choose not to medicate, you may be shaky, shivering, and nauseous.
- Delivery of the Baby – The baby moves through the birth canal and you will start to see the head emerge. When the widest part of the baby’s head is out it’s called Crowning and the hardest part is over. The doctor will move the umbilical cord aside and turn the baby sideways to get one shoulder out at a time. This is when they will tell you to give one last push.
- Delivery of the Placenta – This will take 5-10 minutes and you may have to gently push to get it out but it shouldn’t hurt.
For more helpful labor and delivery tips check out Newborn 101.
Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny Services
Night wakings can be exhausting for parents and lack of sleep can leave parents feeling scattered and foggy. An overnight newborn care expert provides care so sleep deprived parents can get a good night of sleep. Your baby needs sleep and so do you.
Daytime Newborn Care
Your Newborn Care Expert will care for your infant and create a stimulating environment that will help foster your baby’s development.
In-Home Consultant Visits
Our trained professionals can teach you how to best care for your baby. Many parents have questions about how to bathe their babies, how to swaddle, or a host of other questions. We also offer a variety of breastfeeding support and lactation services designed to help support and maximize your breastfeeding experience.
Baby Sleep Coaching
One in four children under the age of five has a sleep issue. Most children’s sleep issues are behavioral and not medical. If your child is struggling with sleep issues, you are not alone!
The care of your children is our highest priority. Connecting families with warm, responsible, and trustworthy caregivers is what we do best. Our team will meet with your family, identify qualified caregivers, and hand-select the best candidates for you to meet with.