Did you ever begin having contractions, pack your bag, call your parents, get all prepared and psyched up for this birth only to discover that after a few hours the contractions just completely stopped? Did you ever experience a labor where you reached a certain dilation (sometimes even as advanced as 9cm) when the contractions became less frequent and you felt that you were ‘stuck’? If your answer to either of these is: ‘YES!!” than you’re normal 🙂 .
Why do contractions stop?
It’s hard to say whether contractions stop (or slow down) because it isn’t active labor yet, i.e., when a mom goes through a few hours of labor at home and then discovers that the contractions have stopped at the hospital; or whether the contractions have stopped for other reasons.
What is the role of oxytocin?
In many births what causes contractions to slow down or stop is lower levels of oxytocin. What does that mean? Oxytocin is the hormone that stimulates the uterine contractions. So the greater the amount of oxytocin- the greater the number of contractions- the quicker (b”h) your baby will be born. Higher levels of Oxytocin are released when a person feels safe and loved, and lower levels when one feels fear and stress.
After that introduction, let’s try and see how we can help you to keep your levels of oxytocin high and get your birth going!!
**The following tips are not natural induction tips, but rather ideas that can help you to keep your existing contractions going, and get them to be more established, effective and stronger.
1. Darken the room. Research has shown that higher levels of oxytocin are released when a room is dark, which actually makes a lot of sense. For example, most people prefer to rest or sleep in a dark room because it’s peaceful, and calm.
2. Take some time to be alone. Sometimes all you may need is to be left alone for a while, in order to reconnect with your body and what’s going on. Having too many family members and/or medical staff can be stressful at times (* always choose wisely when deciding who you’d like to have with you at the birth ).
3. Walk around and change your scenery. Moving, and changing positions may be very helpful during labor. Movement is beneficial physically and emotionally. It may help you to relax your muscles or get them moving, it may help your baby move into a better position; and emotionally you might feel in much better spirits. If you’ve been hanging around inside your home/ or the hospital for hours/days already- go outside! Breathe some fresh air and change your scenery.
4. Get wet! Water is fabulous during labor, and can really do wonders to help moms advance and establish effective contractions. Showers are allowed and recommended at pretty much any stage, whereas bathing is suggested only after about 5cm (and only if your ‘waters’ haven’t broken yet).
5. Get up girl! Upright positions are extremely important during labor. I cannot emphasize this enough. When you’re in an upright position (standing, squatting, on all fours, leaning on the wall or near a couch…) gravity is working in your favor and helping the contractions to be more effective and push your baby down. Upright, you will also have more control than in any lying down positions.
I hope that some of these ideas will be helpful in your upcoming birth; and I invite you, if you have any questions about pregnancy, labor and birth, to please contact me here on my blog or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’re almost at the finish line! This long journey is almost through, and your thoughts are now turned to labor and birth. On the one hand you’d really like to stay away from medications as much as possible; on the other hand, you’re not quite sure what your alternatives are.
I’d like to introduce you to some complementary methods that might be of help during your labor and birth. Complementary medicine means treatment and medicine that is not standard, western society, care; which can be used in addition to standard care.
How can complementary medicine help me? Among others, complementary medicine can assist in alleviating labor pain, reducing stress and discomforts, establishing strong and effective contractions and helping the baby engage in the pelvis. In this article we’ll focus on a specific method of treatment called shiatsu.
What’s Shiatsu? Shiatsu is a gentle form of massage based on East Asian medicine that has existed for over 5,000 years. Shiatsu incorporates many areas of the body, trying to achieve an energetic balance (qi) throughout the meridians of the body. It combines finger and palm pressure, stretches, and other massage techniques. Many pregnant women enjoy having this type of massage which may relax and reduce aches and pains in addition to being beneficial in labor. Another great thing about shiatsu is that it’s done fully clothed and without any oils; which helps women feel comfortable and protected.
2 Shiatsu tips for you
- Relaxation: While you lie down on your side your partner/friend/doula strokes your back downwards, firmly (so it doesn’t tickle) besides your spine, moving closer to the spine each time (without actually massaging it). Another “set” can be done using the lower part of the palm (for a deeper massage).
An additional area that can get very tense is right around your shoulders and neck. Using the arch between thumb and pointer finger, your partner can massage around the neck, and then down from neck to shoulder .
* I like to use this as a relaxation for women before birth or in between contractions.
- Establishing strong and effective contractions:
Shiatsu also combines pressure points, which means that by massaging or putting pressure on a specific point of your body it will have an effect on other areas, and will assist in balancing energetic pathways.
GB21 An affective pressure point, which should not be used during pregnancy, as it can cause strong uterine contractions is called GB21. It is situated in the middle of an imaginary line between your neck bones and shoulder joint. It can be a sensitive spot, so be very careful. What your partner should do is massage all the way down from neck bone towards shoulder and find a point where his finger ‘falls in’. Pushing into that point will hurt a bit.
Your partner should press on that spot for a few seconds and release. Repeat several times over the next 5-10 minutes, then take a break.
KID1 Another pressure point (which is easier to find) that can help establish contractions is KID1, also known as the “solar plexus”. This point is located in the arch of the bottom part of the foot (find two lines that make an angle, about an inch below your middle toe).
For more info about shiatsu that can be used during labor check out these sites:
Wishing you a wonderful pregnancy and birth!
Using complementary medicine during labor and birth.In the previous article, we talked about shiatsu which is a form of massage using pressure points in the body. In this article, I’d like to introduce you to aromatherapy and how it might be helpful to you during labor.
Aromatherapy is a kind of complementary medicine which uses essential oils extracted from flowers, roots, stems and other parts of plants to enhance psychological and physical well-being. There are various ways that the oils can be used: (1) smell, by vapor inhalation (using a diffuser or by putting some drops in your bath) (2) absorption in the skin, by massaging the oils into the skin with another base oil/cream, or by using a compress.
There are many different essential oils that can be used during pregnancy and birth, but we’re only going to focus on a few.
So, what essential oils can you use during labor and birth?
1. Lavender oil. לבנדר This is one of my favorite oils because it has so many therapeutic properties.
Calming and relaxing: Put some base oil (like almond or sesame) into your palm, add 5-6 drops of lavender and then massage into your skin (if there’s a specific area in your body that is tense or in pain- massage that area).
You can also chooseto put a few drops in your bath, or diffuse in the room.
Lavender is also great as an antiseptic and natural antibiotic: You can put a few drops (without any base oil) on perennial tears or episiotomies, this will help heal the tissues and skin (and no, it doesn’t sting).
*You should not use Lavender if you suffer from asthma.
2. Clary Sage. מרווה מרושתת
This oil is great for strengthening the uterus, and for establishing strong and effective contractions. It will also help you to relax and reduce panic. Open up the bottle and smell the oil, or put a few drops onto a small piece of cloth and inhale.
* This oil can be used during labor and birth but should not be used during pregnancy.
3. Peppermint oil.
For a breech baby: use this oil to try and help a breech baby turn around by applying the oil to the top of the stomach in the shape of a rainbow.
If the baby is posterior (OP, when the baby’s neck is right next to mom’s sacrum): put some oil on the lower part of the back. Peppermint is also great for alleviating head-aches (apply a few drops to back of your neck or temples) and nausea (put one drop on your tongue) during pregnancy and labor.
Have a look at these sites for more interesting info about essential oils for pregnancy and birth:
I hope this information was helpful, and I’d be happy to hear what questions and stories you have about pregnancy and birth 🙂
As if there weren’t enough question marks already… When will my baby be born? Where will my baby be born? Is it going to be a long or short labor? What will the medical staff be like? I could go on and on. There are so many unknown things about labor and birth, and a particularly difficult one to decipher is whether what you’re feeling right now is pre-labor or labor.
Warm ups. Some people call pre-labor contractions “false” labor, but I don’t really like to use that term because it can give a woman the feeling that she’s just ‘imagining’ those contractions. She may wind up feeling that she’s not in touch with her body and hasn’t the faintest idea what’s going on. So, I prefer to call them ‘warm-ups’. Pre-labor contractions do in fact help your body get prepared and warmed up for the marathon of birth. When you feel contractions (tightening of your stomach, or ‘on and off’ lower back pains, or both), they are REAL. They just might not be the ones which will actively begin to open the cervix and begin labor. Keep in mind that your body has a lot of work to do (effacement of the cervix) even before dilation (opening of the cervix) begins. So keep on doing your warm-ups!
Positive signs of labor. Generally, you’ll be able to tell that the contractions are signs of labor when…
- There are at least 10-12 contractions that consistently average 1 minute in length, occur 5 or fewer minutes apart and feel very strong.
- The contractions become longer, stronger and closer over time.
- The mother cannot be distracted from the contractions.
(Rupturing of the membranes, when the ‘water breaks’, usually happens during late labor. Spontaneous rupturing of the membranes, before other signs of labor, only occurs in 10% of all births. Therefore, this won’t be a helpful sign for most women.)
What should I be doing during pre-labor? Mostly– rest. Use this time you have before the birth to relax. Get a good night sleep. Go out for a nice walk, or to breakfast with your hubby. Continue with your everyday routine; don’t focus on labor just yet. Make sure you’re drinking and eating sufficiently (easily digested foods are your best choice); you’ll be happy to have a lot of strength and energy for the birth.
Here’s a short Prelabor Checklist:
1. Hospital bag is packed with the basic belongings that you’ll need for the delivery room and toiletries for when you get to the maternity ward (no need to pack two duffle bags worth of stuff). You can leave an additional bag packed at home with extra things for yourself and the baby which a family member will bring over to you later on.
2. On your fridge, you have a list of contact information. Important numbers (hospitals, MDA, Hatzala etc) & phone numbers of family/friends who can care for your older children when you go into labor.
3. Baby car seat has been ordered/arranged (you must have one when you leave the hospital with your baby).
4. Your caregiver/doctor/midwife/doula has been notified that you have begun pre-labor, and updated about any progress.
Even though you may feel confused and/or frustrated by it, pre-labor can actually be a very positive thing. Physically, your body needs time to adjust and prepare slowly, at exactly the right pace. On a deeper level, the pre-labor will also allow you to gradually realize and face the fact that you will be giving birth to your baby soon. So instead of worrying and stressing try and use this time for your own benefit. You’ll be amazing!
If you have any questions related to pregnancy and birth, please email me at email@example.com, or send me a message on FB. B’shaa Tova!
A mixture of feelings
Gather up a bunch of excitement and joy; mix it with up with some fear, anxiety and fatigue and there you have your third trimester. Physically you will probably be feeling more tired again as the baby grows more each day. As the baby goes lower down, preparing for birth, you may feel some relief while breathing. Less huffing and puffing. On the other hand you may feel an increase in urination since the baby is pressing down on all the organs within the pelvis. Fatigue is also part of the package and getting enough sleep and rest is essential, not a luxury.
Discover what’s inside you.
For many women the third trimester will also involve a path of discovery. On this path you may need to face your fears and concerns. You may feel that one moment you’re SO happy and excited that the baby’s coming soon, and a moment later you may feel terrified. You may be thinking a lot about how you’ll handle giving birth, how you’ll be as a parent and how your life and schedule will change after your baby is born. Another area that you might be more aware of now is relationships in your life. It’s completely normal for you to be conscious or concerned with all of the issues mentioned above. Address all the questions and concerns that you have. You’ll feel much better, and you’ll probably be a lot more relaxed at birth.
Great ideas for the third trimester:
1. Get the support that you need; physical and emotional support. Get some extra help around the house and taking care of older children. Treat yourself to a massage, you deserve it! If you need some professional support – get it! Go out with some friends or family and have fun!
2. Sign yourself up to a good quality childbirth course which includes: emotional preparation for birth, updated medical information about pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, practical exercises to help you cope with pain and positions and movements for labor and birth.
3. Exercise and eat healthy food. Do you have lots of backaches or just feel like you don’t have any strength? Many women find that exercising and eating a healthy diet has a direct impact on their labor and birth. If your body is in better shape prior to labor, you will have higher chances (no promises here, ladies) of having an easier labor and birth. So get up and go for it!! Always make sure with your health practitioner that the diet and exercises are suitable for you.
4. Feel good about yourself and have confidence in your body. Many women are afraid that their bodies will not be able to cope with the pain of labor. This is very common and I’d like to give you some chizzuk and emphasize the importance of you believing in yourself, in your body. Be’ezrat hashem you WILL be able to bring your baby into this world in exactly the right way. You CAN do it. Just be that little train that could (ok, maybe “little” doesn’t quite describe you now, but you get the idea): “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can”.
B”h the next articles will be focused on labor and birth. If you have any questions that have to do with the third trimester or with labor and birth you can leave a comment right below this article, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing from you 🙂
Your blossoming Baby: The second trimester.
Second trimesters rock! The second trimester is when you feel like you’ve just been lit up after months of being off the radar. Ask moms to rate the three trimesters, and they’ll tell you that this one gets the highest scores. Of course there are no guarantees, but those days when you felt sick and exhausted should be behind you (or a lot less frequent). You’ll be feeling good again; heck, you might even be able to enjoy being pregnant!
Why do I feel better? For one thing, the hormone levels in your body have kind of balanced themselves out, so you no longer feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Second, now that you’re past the first trimester, and probably showing :), you’re more relaxed about the baby’s well-being. You can finally breathe deeply and take it all in.
Getting to know your baby. Another change that occurs during the second trimester is that you’ll start feeling your baby move inside you. What an amazing miracle! This is when you say to yourself: This is for real. Notice when s/he likes to move around and when s/he sleeps, what music or foods s/hes likes. All these little things are really part of who your baby is!
Taking care of yourself and your baby. No more excuses. This is it. Now you can really focus on what goes in your body. Try to eat small and frequent meals during the day. And remember: you are growin’ a baby! So make each meal count. No more junk. Another really important thing you should do is exercise. Consult with your doctor regarding the optimal exercise for you. Many women enjoy walking, light jogging, swimming and modified exercise classes (classes that use physio-balls are one of my favorites). Nutrition and exercise will give you great boosts of energy and make you feel good about yourself!
Planning ahead. Now is also a great time to start to find out about childbirth education courses, or a refresher class if this isn’t your first child. Most couples start their course between 27-30 weeks. Baruch hashem there’s a wide variety of options to choose from. You can find out what courses are available in your area and see which one suits you the best.
Another thing you will probably want to start thinking about is where you’d like to have your baby, and what the most important things are for you during your birth. You can find out the ‘Top 10 things to check out in a hospital’ on my blog: ilanadoula.wordpress.com. Many couples register in advance (between 6-9 months) to give birth in the J-M hospitals, however it’s not mandatory so don’t worry if you don’t sign up (hospitals outside of J-M don’t ask to register in advance).
In conclusion, this trimester will (hopefully) be a lot easier and more enjoyable. You and your partner will be able to discuss your dreams for the birth and parenthood. And what’s great is that you can both relax knowing that you still have a while to go… You’ll also continue to learn about and connect to your baby in such a unique way. Cherish these beautiful moments :).
- Nausea and vomiting (Caused by elevated levels of Estrogen, Testosteron, and hcg hormones)
- Heartburn (Caused by hormones that relax the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing gastric acids to seep back up, which causes that unpleasant burning sensation).
- Fatigue (Yup. You guessed right. Hormonal changes cause fatigue as well. In addition lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and increased blood production also cause you to feel wiped out most of the time.
1. Get some rest! Even though you may think it’s absurd to be SO tired at such an early stage- it’s 100% normal. Your body is going through amazing changes deep inside. Respect your body and treat it well.
2. Eat foods that are rich in iron and protien.
3. Get active! (Wait. You just said I should rest. ?! Yes, you’re right. You need both) This may seem crazy, but I can testify that it works. If you include exercise in your daily/weekly routine you’ll feel stronger. You’ll have more energy. No need to run marathons, but you can go for walks/jogs or continue what you’ve been doing until now. You should always consult a professional care giver with questions you might have.
I hope these tips were helpful, and I’d love to hear if these (or others) worked for you in your first trimester.
Please share this post with all your friends :).
My baby is only the size of a peanut – but I’m exhausted!! You’re absolutely right. It can be extremely exhausting to be pregnant, and physically, for many women, this is the most challenging trimester. The good news is that most women will feel much better after the first few months. The fatigue that you’re feeling is caused by hormonal changes. You’re not imagining it, you didn’t catch the flu, and it has nothing to do with the weight of your baby. Another discomfort you might experience is ‘morning sickness’, which is an inaccurate term since some women feel fine in the morning, and may feel worse later in the day, while others won’t feel sick at all. So there’s no rule. The feeling of nausea is most likely caused by the rising levels of hCG and estrogen hormones in your body, a sensitive stomach and possibly stress levels as well.
Are mood-swings part of the package too? They sure can be. Emotional changes are normal and some may include emotional outbursts, such as weeping, anger, taking things personally and sentimentality. You may have a sense of disbelief that you’re actually pregnant or if you’ve experienced a miscarriage before it may be hard for you to get attached to this new little baby just yet. It’s a good idea to talk about your feelings with your partner, close friend, or caregiver so you’re not alone.
Not only do our bodies go through many physical, hormonal and emotional changes; but, for some reason, we often make our lives even more difficult by keeping the pregnancy a secret from others until the end of this trimester (or longer). This means that we might feel sick, weak and exhausted without almost any support. Doesn’t make much sense- does it? So if you’re in your first trimester tell a close family member or friend so that you and your partner can have the support that you need. You deserve it!
Well, what can I do that might be of help?
1. Make sure that you’re getting great nutrition. Preventing problems is much more effective than coping with them later on (which is a general rule of life- not just pregnancyJ). Many pregnancy related discomforts can be prevented by keeping a healthy diet. There are ways to ensure that you get the nutrition you need even if you’re having a hard time with digestion.
2. Natural methods such as homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture and exercise may also offer many benefits. Consult with a professional caregiver before using any of these methods.
3. Don’t go through it alone. Sharing your feelings and your experiences with others can really make a huge difference. You might need extra help around the house, or with the other kids; or you might just need a shoulder to lean on.
In conclusion: Remember that there are no set rules. You don’t have to have any of the ‘known’ pregnancy symptoms. You may feel 100% the whole time (yay!). Or you may be one of the lucky ones who gets the ‘full experience’ and has all of them J. Don’t stress out either way, you’re doing just fine. And always get the support that you need.
I don’t want to hear any more rules about nutrition.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you any rules.
I’m sure you have enough concerned mothers, aunts, grandmothers and friends who are supplying you with more rules than you can handle.
In this post I’d like to discuss the deeper meaning of nutrition during pregnancy.
Blossoms growing in our garden need to be nurtured, and given the very best soil, best light and water, just as babies need the very best that we can offer 🙂
Depending on what stage of pregnancy you’re in, you may feel like you’re eating all day long, you may not be able to hold down anything, or you may be somewhere in between. That’s OK; because what I’d like to talk about now is relevant throughout your entire pregnancy. Today we’re going to focus on the importance of being mindful of what goes into our bodies during pregnancy.
As a society, we’re very good at making rules. We have rules about what foods are disallowed during pregnancy, or how much weight you should or shouldn’t gain. What we don’t emphasize enough is what our values are. Think about it for a second: There’s a box of Entenmann’s doughnuts sitting on your counter. Are you going to be careful of what you eat because (a) you’re afraid to put on too much weight, or (b) are you actually concerned about what goes into your body because you want your baby to have the best nutrition possible? (If you answered b, remember that you want to start the new year with a clean slate :-).
Let’s see why nutrition is important:
Nutrition affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. “Excellent nutrition is more than just taking in a certain number of recommended daily allowances, it is also an awareness of how we prepare, eat, and digest our food, of how we feel about our bodies as well as our emotional, mental and spiritual selves, of what chemicals are in the foods we eat and how these affect not only our own health but also our baby’s health and the health of our environment.” (The Natural Pregnancy Book, Aviva Jill Romm, MD. 2003.)
1. Feeling physically well. Women who have optimally healthy diets will usually feel well for most of their pregnancy. Many of the well-known discomforts can be prevented or relieved with good nutrition.
2. Feeling emotionally well. Maintaining a healthy diet can help women feel better emotionally and help them have a better experience during pregnancy and birth.
3. Preventing problems. Optimal pregnancy nourishment will be able to prevent many pregnancy problems, and preclude the need for various tests and interventions during pregnancy and birth.
4. Having a healthy baby. Optimal nourishment will help ensure that your baby is healthy, intelligent, and resistant to infections. What goes into your body will also be the basis of your baby’s very first nourishment.
In conclusion: It’s a new year. Try to take upon yourself a commitment this year to be well nourished. You and your baby deserve it. You don’t have to, and you shouldn’t, change your entire diet in a week. Take upon yourself 1-2 realistic changes that will improve what you’re already doing. For example: if you enjoy bread, make sure that you’re eating whole wheat bread. If you know that you need a sweet snack before bedtime- buy yourself fruit that you know you’ll enjoy as your special treat instead of eating junk. Once you’ve mastered one commitment, move onto the next one. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Start now. You can do it!
Here are five tips that will help you maximize your chances of having a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean):
1. Confidence & Closure. Be confident of yourself, of your body. You CAN do it. You can have a natural, beautiful birth (this is NOT to say that a cesarean birth isn’t beautiful. They’re all beautiful J).
Prepare yourself mentally. Make this a high priority and focus on it. In addition, read stories about women who have successfully had a VBAC. Sometimes when we hear that other people, just like us, have done what seems impossible, we believe in ourselves as well. A lot of what we are capable of doing starts out inside our head!
Closure of your previous birth. Often women find that they still have many unanswered questions, or issues that still trouble them about previous births. Working these things through in advance can be extremely helpful in order to approach this birth with peace of mind.
2. Schedule an early ultrasound. This US (ultra sound), which is usually performed between 6-12 weeks), is the most accurate US to determine the age of your baby. By scheduling an early US you will be minimizing the chances of miscalculating your due date. How is this related to VBACs? Often doctors think that your due date is earlier than what it should be. This leads many women to having induced labor and quite possibly another cesarean down the road.
If your due date, (according to your LMP –last menstrual period), is earlier or later by more than a week from the due date according to the early Ultra Sound – check it out. Ask your doctor why there’s such a difference. In most cases, the US date will be chosen. Don’t be afraid to be assertive (that’s the nice way of saying pushy J). You MUST have the most accurate due date. If your doctor isn’t willing to reassess the date, get another opinion.
3. Choose a hospital that encourages VBACs & avoid induction of labor.
When considering where to deliver your baby, make sure to check out successful VBAC percentages. Most hospitals in Jerusalem have excellent VBAC rates.
After you’ve chosen a hospital, you want to keep in mind that inductions are not recommended for VBACs. In fact, most doctors today will try to avoid inducing a woman who has already gone through a cesarean section since induction increases the chances of medical complications. For example, it can cause hyper-stimulation (high levels of pitocin that trigger extremely strong contractions one after another) which increase the chances of uterine rupture. Induction also means that you will need to be confined to your bed, and most likely need an epidural and an IV. In many cases having an induction too early on, before the cervix is ripe, can cause the labor to be longer rather than shorter.
For your VBAC, you might want to consider hiring a private midwife or doctor. This might help you feel that you have another medical perspective, perhaps a more objective one.
4. Hire a doula. Hire a doula to assist you through your birth. Studies have shown that women who have had a doula at their birth had shorter births, fewer epidurals, fewer interventions (such as a vaccum) and fewer cesarean sections. Even though you have already had a baby and given birth before, you still can benefit a lot from having a doula at your side, someone who can encourage you and help you along your journey. Find someone you connect with and feel that you can depend on 🙂
5. Prepare for the unknown by accepting that we don’t know what lies ahead, and by believing in ourselves. This may seem to contradict point number one, but just bear with me. I believe that you should have confidence in your body, and your ability to give birth. Think positively. Think: I CAN DO IT.
On the other hand, keep in mind that we don’t have all the answers now. We don’t know how it will all unfold. Understanding that scenarios may change, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have plans and goals. Try and prepare yourself for different eventualities. Reassure yourself that any decision you make will be the best one. There are no “right” or “wrong” births. Any birth of yours will be the “right” one, be it a VBAC or cesarean birth, whether you use pain medication or not.
Any birth of yours will be the perfect one.
For more info about this subject: