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Celebrating Addilyn’s first birthday has had me reflecting a lot on this time last year. I remember a lot of being super pregnant and super anxious for her to come, trying everything that I possibly could to get things moving along. Turns out, my little stinker had other plans. You can read her birth story here, but the gist of it is that she had zero intentions of coming out on her own, and there were circumstances that made it necessary to help her along. After much discussion, we decided on an induction.
The day of my induction, my doctor checked me and I was 0% dilated, 0% effaced, 0% going into labor at all. I truly expected my induction to be a 2-3 day process, as did Dr. Jackson. Turns out, baby girl was earth-side within 16 hours of starting the process! That being said, I am a firm believer that the things I am going to tell you below really work!
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (This is the best kind!)
I cannot sing the praises of this stuff enough! You’re going to want to go ahead and get the big pack, just trust me. I had read a lot about using it to induce labor and honestly that was my goal in trying it out. I was very leery of drinking it until I was well into my third trimester, although I know a lot of women drink it in small amounts for their entire pregnancy. I started drinking 1-2 cups a day at 37 weeks, and by that 39th week I was doing the strong “Labor Day tea” brew. Basically you put 10 tea bags into a gallon of boiling water, let it steep a few hours, sweeten it and drink it throughout the day. Did it induce my labor? No. But, as I told you guys in my birth story, my labor was incredibly fast and my contractions were strong and productive. I cannot help but think that this little tea conditioning my uterus had a lot to do with that!
*I definitely recommend running this by your doctor before you do the stronger brew.
A Labor Playlist
Relax your jaw and unclench your fists.
This may just have been the most helpful advice that I was given and I reminded myself of it constantly, especially during the pre-epidural contractions. When you clench your hands, it brings tension to your whole body. Medicallly speaking, your jaw is directly linked to your pelvis, and during labor you absolutely want your pelvis to relax and open up. Much of the time, we don’t even realize we are tense until we make a conscious effort to relax, so being mindful of these two tension-carrying behaviors during your labor will help tremendously! It may even help to have your birth partner massage your hands to relieve some of the tension.
Focus on your breathing.
When you are just focusing on making it through the contraction, it can be so hard to be self-aware. I found that I would hold my breath without meaning to and have to remind myself to take deep breaths (see my birth affirmations).
If you haven’t, you absolutely should find and attend a childbirth class in your area. There are a lot of great ones online too, or you could even search YouTube. Bottom line, learn a few breathing techniques ahead of time and use them! I was very fortunate to have a fantastic labor nurse that coached me as I went and reminded me of what I had learned. I would assume that most hospitals will also coach you through it, but it never hurts to do your homework ahead of time!
Watch the clock.
During active labor, contractions will typically last for about 1-1.5 minutes each. I found it to be super helpful to stare at the clock as soon as the contraction started and just focus on that one small stretch of time. I told myself that I can endure anything for 60 seconds and it would be over soon. It seemed to really help it to pass more easily. When you can see the end, it makes the middle a little less hard.
Be nice to your nurses.
They really are the lifesavers here. Our doctor is amazing and we appreciate him and all of his help so much, but let me tell you. The nurses are the ones who are with you for the hard parts. They are there for you when you arrive, anxious and nervous. They are with you when the scary things happen. They are checking you and encouraging you. They are the ones running around to keep you comfortable; answering your pages when they have been on their feet for 12 hours. They monitor your baby’s heart rate and track your contractions. They listen to your screams and wipe your forehead. They are the ones that leave a room where a mother and baby are in distress (or even more heart-wrenching things have happened), and yet they put on a brave face and enter your room confidently and reassuringly. They are the ones that hold your hands while your epidural is administered. They are the ones that coach you and guide you, reminding you that you can do it. They are the ones that gently help you to the bathroom and clean you up after you give birth. They are the ones that teach you how to change your pads and care for your lady parts. And in our hospital, your L&D nurses are also your Mother-Baby nurses, so they helped teach me to be a mom and took my infant when I just needed a break. They do the hard, thankless work. Be kind to them. Remember them.
We chose to go in with a big box of treats for them because we know how hard their job is (I come from a family filled with nurses). I knew that I may not be the easiest patient with all of my anxiety, so I wanted to do something kind for them. And hey, it never hurts to become a nurse’s favorite patient! (I kid, but seriously…). I asked my sister, who is a labor and delivery nurse, what kind of gift would mean the most and without hesitation she said, “food and caffeine!” It is not uncommon at all for a nurse to completely forget (or be too busy) to eat, so things that could easily be grabbed on the go are best. We made sure we hooked them up and they were so very appreciative!
There you have it! All of these things added together helped me to have the most amazing labor and delivery. As a first time mom, I could not have asked for it to go any better! Let me know if you try any of these!
Mamas with babies, tell me what helped you?