I can tell you from personal experience that water is a lifesaver in labor. A birth/labor tub or a shower both work really well! For me, the shower worked significantly better than the tub, but I hear that's common in first labors. I just set the shower head to the massage setting and got the water to just the right temperature, and I was in heaven compared to not being in the water.
My third birth was a water birth, and being in the tub was also amazing- I had a water birth in a hospital, and the tub had jets, it was life changing! But even without them on, it made me feel relaxed and weightless.
It helps the physical pain as well as being very relaxing. As someone who's struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, I learned years and years ago how relaxing water is and often used it to get rid of my panic attacks, and that's where I got the idea to get in the shower in the first place! I didn't even know it was a common method of pain relief in labor, I just knew I needed some help grounding myself and focusing, and if it helped me ground myself during a panic attack surely it would help me ground myself in labor!
I believe the birth pool or labor pool helps so much during labor partly because of the weightlessness aspect. In the water, you really do feel weightless, and it's much easier to move. That means that in a birth/labor tub it's much easier to change positions and find one that feels comfortable for you. Aside from that, the warm water feels nice and is very soothing and relaxing. It is said that laboring in the water makes for a shorter labor, though I don't know for sure if there is any truth to that. It is also said that laboring and birthing in the water usually results in fewer complications and less intervention!
Using water as pain relief during labor is also extremely effective when it comes to back labor. Trust me on that one! Because it helps so much to make you relax, it also helps you store/save energy for the harder parts of labor (hard labor, pushing, etc.).
Oftentimes in hospitals you will not be allowed to use a labor/birth pool until your cervix has dilated to 5cm. The reason for this is that is when you are considered in hard, active labor - and early labor can last for days. A birth pool should be emptied, disinfected, and refilled every 24 hours during labor. After you hit that 5cm mark, you're not likely to be in labor so long, and therefore they won't need to empty and disinfect it.
Another reason for this rule is that they don't want the water to slow your labor or contractions, or lead to other interventions. Forgive me here, but I don't buy that one.
Personally, I think that rule is in place mainly to make their jobs easier, but there's a way around it!
This is not always the case, fortunately. I've doula'd at a few hospitals and I've even given birth in one where you can use the tub as soon as you are admitted. It absolutely varies from hospital to hospital, so it may be worth asking your care provider about early on.
Just because you may not be able to use the pool/tub until you hit 5cm doesn't mean you can't still use water as pain relief in early labor. There's no rule about dilation for using the shower, as it's constantly running so you're not sitting in the same water for hours. Like I said earlier - showers are heaven, especially for first time moms!
Another great thing about laboring in the water is that your partner or child/children can join you. In most cases, your midwife or birth doula will not get into the birth tub with you, but your husband (or wife!) certainly can! It's even alright for your child to be in there with you - it's all about what you want and what makes you happy and comfortable.
You can drink while in the birth pool at home, at a birthing center, and even in many hospitals - and it's a great idea to. Be it water, a sports drink (like Gatorade or Powerade or this awesome, natural, homemade sports drink), or juice - it's good to make up for the lost electrolytes because of all the hard work and sweating you're doing!
If you're at home, you will be allowed to eat in the birth pool, but in the hospital you oftentimes will not be - following standard hospital procedure, unfortunately.
Check out this link from Evidence Based Birth for the studies and evidence on the safety of eating in labor. I'll post a blog sometime in the future covering the benefits of eating in labor, but let's just say I, myself, would have had a very hard time in labor if I were not allowed to eat!
I've never heard a complaint or regret from my waterbirthing clients, and as for my own water births, I wouldn't change a thing. It is so relaxing, rewarding, and empowering- and possible even if you aren't in the market for a home birth!
Did you have a water birth? Do you wish you did, or wish you could? I would love to hear feedback from you all!
My first recommendation for couples who want to try to conceive (or, TTC), is to get to know your body.
\nCharting your cycle, your cervical mucous, your moods, your temperature, the height, position, and firmness of your cervix, among other things will help you get to know your body more. Doing this will help you to figure out when you ovulate, and with that, which days are best for baby making!
\nYou can chart these yourself in a notebook, or if you check out the app store there are plenty of great apps you can use to track your cycle. My personal favorite is Ovia.
\nIf you use a cycle tracking app, please comment below so other parents can see and check them out!
\nNext, I'd recommend looking into care providers. Where do you want to give birth? Hospital, home, birth center? Do you want a midwife or an OB? What about a doula?
\nWhen looking into these, think about the type of birth you'd like to have. Do you want to avoid a cesarean? Check the cesarean rates of your local hospitals and OBs before making your decision. Do you want something between a hospital and home birth? Look at nearby birth centers! Think about what is important to you, and research, research, research!
\nFeeling overwhelmed? Your doula can help!
\nNot sure how to begin your search for a doula? Check out www.doulamatch.net!
\nRemember, you can switch birth places and care providers at any time. They work for you- not you for them.
\nOkay! Now onto TTC. Did you know some lubricants can actually make it more difficult to conceive? Check your current lubricant to make sure it's "fertility friendly" before you keep using it! Lubricants like Astroglide and KY Jelly can make conceiving more difficult, while lubricants like Pre-Seed can make it easier.
\nYou can use OPKs to help you determine when you are ovulating. When you get a positive test, it's time to start trying!
\nYou can also chart your basal body temperature to see when you ovulate. With this method, you use a basal body thermometer, which is a very sensitive thermometer that calculates to two decimals. Since your BBT generally only rises 0.4-0.8°, it is essential to use a very sensitive thermometer.
\nMake sure you take your temperature upon waking, and before doing anything else, because doing other activities (like using the bathroom, eating, walking around, etc.) can alter your temperature and make your results inaccurate.
\nYour fertile window generally lasts about 6 days. Studies have shown there is no substantial difference in successfully conceiving in trying every day vs every other day during the fertile window, nor does sex position or lying on your back afterward for any amount of time. That said, I have had many clients swear by lying on their back with hips elevated for 10-20 minutes after sex.
\nThe two biggest keys to successfully TTC in healthy couples with no fertility issues, is staying healthy and staying as stress free as possible. I know, this is much easier said than done. But trust that in time, you will get your baby. While you're waiting, you can take small steps to improving your own health, such as eating healthier, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, taking time for yourself to just relax and do something you enjoy!
\nHave you been trying to conceive for a few months with no luck? Don't stress too much, in healthy couples under 35 it can take up to a year to conceive, without infertility issues. If it's been over a year, (or over 6 months if you're over 35) bring it up to your doctor to discuss your next steps and rule out any issues.
\nThis post is purely informational and not to be used as medical advice.
\nWhat TTC tips and tricks do you have? Please share them below!
“You’re doing WHAT with your placenta?!”
I’ll admit, when I first heard about placenta encapsulation, it grossed me out a little bit. For starters, I thought you just… eat it (which, for what it’s worth, I don’t think is gross anymore either). I also had no idea why someone would want to ingest their placenta. I had no idea there were any benefits to doing so- I just thought it was a case of crunchy parenting gone too crunchy.
So- why exactly would someone want to ingest their placenta? There are quite a few reasons!
Many moms report having more energy- something you can’t seem to get enough of with a new baby around. It is also thought to reduce postpartum bleeding, as well as speed up recovery time- these claims are made because the placenta produces thyroid stimulating hormone, which regulates the thyroid, helps with recovery from stress, and increases energy. I’ve heard many women report that their milk came in more quickly and more plentiful, as well- this is thought to be because the placenta produces prolactin, which helps women produce breastmilk. One of the most intriguing reports, to me, are the reports that placenta pills (or smoothies, or however you choose to consume them) help with baby blues - and some people even say help with postpartum depression! We live in a country where 11-20% of new moms experience postpartum depression, per the CDC. Keep in mind that these are only self-reported cases, and many moms do not seek help for postpartum depression due to the shame surrounding mental illness (we’ll save the discussion about why our postpartum depression rates are so high for another post). In my opinion, it doesn’t hurt to try placenta encapsulation to prevent it- even if it doesn’t work, there are many other benefits. The placenta produces oxytocin and placental opioid-enhancing factor, which can help with depression and increase overall health.
If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression, please do not hesitate to speak to your OBGYN or your PCP. Many women experience PPD, and there is absolutely no shame in asking for help.
First things first - how do you get your placenta home? If you are not having a home birth, make it known to your care provider that you intend to take your placenta home. After you give birth, have your doula, partner, or other support person make sure that your placenta is refrigerated or put on ice, and that no chemicals are put onto it. Bring it home on ice, and refrigerate or freeze it, depending on what you plan to do with it and how soon.
There are many ways to encapsulate your placenta. You can hire someone to encapsulate it for you (this is the option I recommend, as they are trained to handle and encapsulate your placenta safely), or you can do it yourself. There are many tutorials to do this available online. You can encapsulate it raw or steamed. Let’s discuss the differences between the two:
Because it is not cooked, it usually makes more pills than the steamed method.
This method is more commonly used than the raw method.
This method seems to be the hardest to swallow (see what I did there?). It has all the same benefits as the raw method of encapsulation, but it is cheaper and easy to do at home. You cut off a bite size chunk (many women cut the entire placenta into bite size chunks and then freeze, so they can use pieces as they go, because once frozen and thawed it is not safe to refreeze the placenta), and blend it up with whatever fruits and juices you want. A common combo I see is raspberries, strawberries, bananas, and orange or apple juice.
As of now, there are not many studies on the pros and cons of consuming your placenta- most evidence is purely anecdotal. I encourage you to research and make the right decision for yourself and your baby! What is right for one family is not always what is right for another. I do support and recommend placenta encapsulation, though I do not recommend doing it yourself unless you are trained to do so.
All feedback, questions, and experiences are welcomed in the comments section♡