We knew that the film inspired by Heidi Murkoff’s New York Times Best Seller “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” wouldn’t be a CliffNotes version of the book, but we hear there were some insightful aspects of the film.
Our friends over at NYC Dads Group are relieved to see that some of the real struggles dads go through are being brought to light on the big screen, despite the comedic overtones. And over at The Stir, Sheri Reed wrote a great contrast of what the film does and does not “get right.” It seems the film does a good job of putting pregnancy into perspective, notably, the truth that pregnancy can be hard.
So we thought we’d turn this into an opportunity to really talk about “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, by sharing some of the lesser-known tips that make a big difference, which we discuss with expecting parents during our sessions.
As moms both trained from a variety of birthing perspectives and experienced as doulas, here are some of the secrets you’ll only discover by combining modern childbirth techniques and old world practices:
1. Tour your hospital or birthing center in advance so you have a better idea of what to expect on the day you deliver.
2. Don’t feel uncomfortable about asking questions. You have the right to ensure that routine procedures are appropriate for you and that you feel safe with every aspect of your experience. The more questions you ask ahead of time, the more confident you’ll be in your choice of midwife or doctor.
3. Work with your body during labor, not against it. Giving birth is not a medical condition, it’s a natural process. So eat, drink and move around – whether resting in different positions or walking. Though you might be told not to do these things they are proven safe, healthy and effective options that will make your experience more comfortable, and they’re allowed in many hospital settings. Ensure your labor provider knows you want these options and that they’ll support you in choosing them. If they won’t, you might want to research other places to give birth which will support these options.
4. Consider alternative positions to laying on your back for giving birth. When you think about it, if you lay on your back while you’re pushing, you’re fighting gravity and the natural birth process. Researchers found that women who gave birth using upright positions had a shorter pushing time and less severe pain than women who gave birth while lying on their backs. Hospital beds convert into many different positions, and some alternative positions can still be used when given an epidural. Talk to your care provider in advance to see if they have been trained in delivering babies in the various positions (including squatting, standing, sidelying, and all fours.)
5. Your body will guide you, all you have to do is listen when it comes to pushing. Using “spontaneous pushing”, or doing so when your body gives you the urge, means you’re pushing exactly as you need to give birth. Following your body’s direction, opposed to forced pushing and holding your breath more often, will leave you feeling less exhausted and prevent unnecessary stress and damage for you and the baby. This is the part of labor that is most managed by caregivers, so talk with your provider ahead of time if you choose to use non-directed pushing.
6. Free-up your partner to focus on your emotional needs during the big day, and remove the pressure for them to provide all the physical support. As much as our partners want to help, massaging you for three hours straight and knowing all the best techniques for labor may not come to them so easily. A labor support professional, also known as a doula, is equipped to ensure you’re as physically comfortable as possible throughout your pregnancy and delivery, and frees up your partner to be there for you emotionally. Women have historically always been supported by multiple people.
7. Give yourself a breather. Labor support professionals provide comprehensive support throughout the childbirth process in the months leading-up to and through delivery; whether you choose to give birth in a hospital setting, at a birth center, or at home. They know tricks of the trade for easing pain, know what to expect, what to watch for and how to help you get the information you need in the moment.
Here is another helpful resource on the topic.
Hope you discovered some useful tips to make your birthing experience a bit more comfortable.
-Jada and Anna