Advice Wanted: Attention Mamas!!

One of the best parts about having a blog is having access to lots of people and their opinions. This post has nothing to do with interior design (other than the pretty nursery pics – the design is by Angie Hranosky) and that’s why I’m posting it on a Sunday night. Thanks for letting me get personal here sometimes.

I am quickly approaching 39 weeks. The end of this pregnancy is very near. I had two very, very different labors and deliveries with my other girls. I expect that this one will be equally unique.

SO!! I want to hear your best advice on labor pain management! What worked for you??

My husband and I have started a list of things to try this time:

Bouncing on an exercise ball
Listening to calming music
Walking, Sitting or standing instead of lying in the hospital bed
Hypno-birthing/extreme focus technique

Not so much interested in the bath idea once my water has broken.

Any quick pieces of advice would be greatly appreciated! You guys are the best!

  1. Anonymous

    Oh I wish I could help you !!!! But I had 2 sections….

    I will pray that you have an easy delivery !!

    God Bless,
    Kathy :)

  2. Deanna

    Wow, really great comments here! I have a little girl at home (she will be one on Wednesday!) and am expecting a boy in April. I can attest to what many women have said – SHOWERS are the BEST!! Especially if you have a seat in your shower that allows you to rest on, or use to help you squat. I had a pretty tough delivery my first time (induced, then given drugs to stop contractions, then rushed in for emergency c-section)and I can saw that having a GREAT SPOUSE to help you through it is key. AND finding a nurse/doctor who really cares about you. Some are just so quick to shrug-off your needs and pain. The pain is so tough – because I had the c-section, the doctor's suggested I get the epidural to make the anesthesia process for the surgery easier. I was in a lot of pain after the c-section (it hurt to climb stairs and get in-and-out of the car for MONTHS after I the baby), but now looking back, I think "eh, that wasn't so bad" (although I'll NEVER admit it to my kids). Just remember why you are going through the pain, and FEEL ENTITLED BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT! DON'T TAKE GUFF FROM ANYONE WHILE YOU ARE IN LABOR, and you will get through it. You are a pro by now! And, like another person said, don't rule anything out, because each delviery is different, and YOU are the only one who knows what is right for you!

    My husband and I are remodeling our 1800's farm house, so much of the house is closed off – know of any great picture galleries where I can find shared-gender nurseries?

    Best of luck to you! Kids drive us crazy, but are totally worth it, if only for how much laughter they bring to our lives! I'll be thinking of you!

  3. Epidural!!!! I totally thought I could do "yoga breathing" and that labor would be no big deal. WRONG! I was such a wimp…I cried for the drugs pretty early on. Thank the Lord for them tho!

  4. Rosa

    My grandmother had 10 kids. My mom tells the story of when my grandma went into labor with my uncle. She was working the fields up till her water broke. She told my grandfather about how she was going home to labor and deliver. She got on her horse and went home. My grandfather got onto his horse and rode to get the midwife. By the time Grandfather and midwife arrived, my grandmother had delivered my uncle, and was smoking a cigarette while nursing him. She had delivered him on her own with no pain meds. She cut the cord and all. That uncle took care of my grandmother until her death at age 94. I use that story as my inspiration and focus when I labor and deliver. I don't like pain meds because I don't like that feeling of being loopy and out of control. I rather feel it all and not deal with the side effects of a sleepy baby and groggy self.

    Good luck!

  5. Brooke

    Another vote for an epidural!

  6. Monica

    I just had my second child and I decided to go all natural this time around. It was amazing! We used the Bradley Method. There is a book called 'Husband Coached Childbirth' that we used. I would describe it as being a lot like yoga. There are a couple positions that you use that help you to relax, and there are massages for your husband to do that are super helpful, as well as lots of other helpful advice and tips. I ended up needing pitocin which made my contractions tougher but I have to say it was always manageable and I never felt like I couldn't do it. My husband did massage my belly when my contractions got close up until the point of delivery (which was AMAZING!). I highly recommend you picking up that book and spending some time reading it and going over key points with your husband or labor coach. It really made my experience wonderful.

  7. Hypnobirthing is so AWESOME, Jen! I have used those concepts to get through so many other things, too. Good luck to you! Love ya! ~Sally

  8. I had gas and air(horrible stuff!) for the first two hours, But I'll tell ya, after my Epidural I slept through the night only to be woken up by my mid-wife telling me my waters had BROKEN in my sleep(!!!!). sat on a Birthing stool and she was out in 30 mins! I want to marry the person who invented that stuff! ..don't tell my husband:-)

  9. We used hypnobirthing, and it was key to managing my pain. I had only back labor,and was able to make it more than 24 hours before I wanted pain meds. You'll do great. The most important thing is just to not be scared,I think. Your body already knows how to do this, and your birth will be just beautiful!

    It might sound silly, but my husband told me later I was telling myself the whole time "I'm doing a great job." I had no idea– guess it helped!

  10. Wow, did you get a TON of advice!!! I'll try to keep mine brief. I wasn't going to leave a comment but felt that as a fan of your blog AND and anesthesiologist who regularly works on OB, and a mom myself i had to. First I'll tell you what I recommend as a doctor, GET THE EPIDURAL!!!! Now I'll tell you what I recommend as a woman who has given birth, GET THE EPIDURAL!!! I really can't say anything bad about it. Nothing, not even a tylenol, is without a side effect profile, so I can't say there aren't any potential problems. And of course, without knowing any of your medical history I couldn't comment as to whether or not you have a higher chance of having complications. But, if you are otherwise healthy the risks are very minimal! I can say, after having had one, the process is virtually pain free and takes abut 10 minutes. Afterwards it's true that you can't get up and walk around BUT, you won't need to!! I took a nap and woke up when it was time to push (which took only about 30 minutes- which is nothing for a first baby and I was induced!).

    If for whatever reason you can't have one I would really recommend those tried and tested lamaze techniques. I actually did the panting/breathing with a focal object (for something totally different) and boy did that work! Also, I didn't have an epidural until I was about 4 cm (although I could have had one sooner) because I had found such nice relief with a hot shower. Most of the discomfort, at least in the 1st stage of labor, is muscular so the hot water really does wonders with loosening those tensions!

    Again, I would REALLY REALLY recommend the epidural!

    Is she no longer breech? Good luck, love the blog!! Keep us posted on how everything goes and post a picture ASAP!!! lol.
    -Christine

  11. andi

    Good luck!!

    I got in the tub till my water broke for the second. I was on the ball a lot with the first. My husband pushed on my back really hard during contractions. I've heard rolling tennis balls on the back feels good too.
    Right before I started pushing and the contractions were the worst I would repeat the Lord's Prayer over and over in my mind (it just popped in my head). If I got too distracted that I stopped, I would start all over again. It got me through those last 15 minutes before pushing!

  12. Like you I had two very different experiences with my labour experiences. With my first I never embraced breathing with my second I did and it made a huge difference. Seems simple, but something that I lost focus of during my fist labour. The key, i think, is trying to find what keeps you relaxed. I loved the exercise ball.I tried standing during my last labour and it made me feel really sick and icky. I stayed at home as long as I could and that helped a tonne. I honestly wasn't even sure I was in labour, but was an eight when we got to the hospital. I have a friend that always labours at home as long as possible and she has super fast deliveries. Hope you have a wonderful labour and healthy baby girl.

  13. i just went through my second labor and delivery 4 months ago–to a beautiful baby girl! My best piece of advice is GET IN THE WATER! Now, I am no hydro-birth fanatic or anything. My first L&D was an induction with pitocin, while strapped in bed. i eventually got an epidural. i knew i wanted my second labor to better, but i was still plenty open to an epidural. long story short? when labor started, i got in the bathtub at home. it felt great! even during the contractions, i managed OK, even by myself, becaue my husband was taking care of our older children (2 of them adopted.) guess what happened? the water helped SO much, I ended up (accidentally!) giving birth right there in the bathroom. it eased my labor pains so much, i didn't even realize i was about to have the baby! so, take my story however you want to–as a warning or wisdom! but the water sure helps!!!!

  14. Sarah

    I thought the birthing ball helped a little. Although I felt the best once I received my epidural which obviously isn't always the best solution. I ended up with two c-sections but all of my friends had epidurals and had natural childbirth. Did you use pain medication on your previous births?

  15. Alissa

    i know you have a bunch of comments already, but i wanted to say walking… stay on your feet. Laying down in that hospital bed is a sure-fire way to demand an epidural… ugh! and squatting beside your bed if FAB!

  16. Amnah

    That room is gorgeous!

    With my first pregnancy I was induced. Labor was horrible. Got an epidural. I lay there for 7 hours unable to move anything below my chest. It felt like an elephant was sitting on me. You can feel the pressure of the contractions, but no pain. Pushing out was easy.

    Second delivery: Went into labor naturally.(What a difference!) I was walking around at home during the contractions. When they got real bad I would either squat down or lean against a wall. When I got to the hospital, I got in bed, 3 (maybe 4) contractions later the baby was out. WAY easier than the first time. I think the standing and walking around (plus the weight of a 9 pound baby!) really helped my progress quickly.

    Good luck with your labor and delivery!!! You're going to feel like a superhero afterwards. It's awesome :-)

    I absolutely adore your blog!

  17. Anonymous

    get a trusted, calm & experienced someone in there with you who knows about breathing and who can keep the focus going through the tough moments.
    best wishes!

  18. julie!

    My husband and I recently welcomed our second baby (and first daughter) into our home on September 24.
    I had decided to deliver naturally (I had an epidural with our son).
    With our daughter, I felt so calm and in control. The secret this time around (for me) was to really focus on breathing. With each contraction, I focused on breathing deep breaths, in and out. With the first baby, I tensed up and really dreaded each contraction. But this time, I just allowed myself to relax and breathe into them. I also focused on relaxing the pelvic floor (I really tried to focus on that and visualize the muscles relaxing…sounds weird, but it totally worked). I focused on breathing deep and breathing through each contraction. I can honestly say that even dilated to an 8, each contraction was totally manageable.
    Its important to find a comfortable position as well. For me, it was sitting crossed legged on the hospital bed and when a contraction began, sitting up straight and just focusing on breathing through it.
    Once my midwife decided to break my water, our daughter was born 45 minutes later. Those 45 minutes were the ONLY part of labor that I wasn't sure how to manage the pain. I kept my eyes closed the whole time and just did what my midwife said. My husband stood at my side and did what he could, but at that point, all I wanted to do was get the baby out. I won't lie, that part was difficult. I think, if I were to do it again, I would try to focus more on breathing the baby out. Not much you can do once the ring of fire sensation occurs except get through it. Anyway, the best advice I received to get through contractions was to just relax into them and focus and breathe. It made ALL the difference in the world. Honestly imagine your pelvic floor relaxing and your body relaxing into each contraction.
    Since you have had two babies already, you shouldn't have many surprises, so the fear should be gone and you should be able to trust your body.
    Best of luck!
    (oh and I absolutely LOVE your blog! So inspiring!)

  19. Lynn

    Okay – lot's of things distracted me from the pain, but the one thing that actually lessened the pain was having someone make a fist and push hard in the small of my back. That was the best!

  20. Jill

    I had an unmedicated birth with my 2nd daughter and loved it. I did hypnobabies. I think the most helpful things for me were staying relaxed by doing deep abdominal breathing. Practice by moving your tongue behind your upper teeth, take a slow, deep breath in through your nose to the count of 4, then out through your mouth. When you breathe instead of filling up your chest, fill up your belly. Direct the breath to your belly if that makes sense.

    Second advice, stay relaxed by trying to keep your hands and face relaxed. If they are tense, then most likely the rest of your body is tense and your body is not able to do its work of getting the baby out!

    There are a lot of positive and inspiring stories in the book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth if you are looking for some last minute reading!

    Good luck!

  21. Brooke

    I usually don't comment on blogs. Mostly because i am just not sure if what I have to say is charming or witty enough for someone I have never met. But I could not resist this one. I love your style, by the way, and have gotten so many great tips! And what I wouldn't give for a peek in your basement… Seriously! It might make my husband understand the state of our garage a bit better!

    Anyway, I am a labor nurse and think you have some great advice from lots of mothers out there.
    My best advice, is stay positive and be open to change. Anything can happen in labor, so have a plan, but be open to the idea that plans change. As a mom and a designer, you know that things change on a whim. Ad although you may not end up where you thought they were going, the end result is usually better than you imagined!

    Best wishes to you and your little one!

  22. Barbie

    I've had 2 epidurals which were nice I admit, but I respect those that go natural. There's something earthy and real about it. My friends that have done so swear by having a doula with whom they trust and have a good bond. It's a bit late to search for that, but maybe not entirely out of the question. Since you asked, I hope you'll also share a run-down of your labor. We're all a litte invested now. :)

  23. I am a natural kind of gal, so I opted for no drugs. The recovery is faster – I also made it my business to deliver in record time…ha! I called my Mom who was making apple sauce and she was in awe of how fast it all happened. That said, she had seven!
    I think just knowing that a wonderful package is about to be delivered is enough motivation to make anyone push!
    Say the alphabet or sing a song…that helped me!
    pve

  24. You don't know me but I really love your blog. I love your style and find inspiring things to do to my future house by obsessing over your posts!:)

    For my first delivery I walked…it really helped. For the second delivery, I bounced and rolled on a ball and it REALLY helped. I bent from an 8 to a 10 in one contraction.

    Once I needed to get in bed, my husband rubbed my lower back really hard using a magazine between my back and his hand to allow for not "sticking" for both of my deliveries. It is an essential….diapers, clothes for baby, Country magazine!:)

    Many best wishes to you.

  25. Hi Jenny! You have no idea how much I enjoy your blog!

    I had epidurals pretty early on with both of my deliveries, so I'm not much help here, but my sis-in-law (4 natural deliveries) swears by laboring in the shower.

    Just wanted to say good luck, mama! I'll pray that your sweet new baby comes easily and that you're both healthy and happy!

  26. debra

    I see everyone covered most every idea, but with 6 kids I felt compelled to comment! Since all my births were medication free (nothing against it, just wanted to see how my body handled things and before I knew it, it was too late) I think mental power is everything.
    I imagined through every contraction that I was walking in the door of the home I love with my brand new baby, announcing to the other children standing at the top of the stairs that their new sister was home! It was such an emotional
    vision and it meant that our family
    would welcome home a new baby if I could just get her out! Fun!
    Cheers, and blessings.

  27. Erin

    I love your blog! Your ideas are so inspirational!

    I just had a baby 8 months ago – no drugs. The thing that helped the most was being in the tub and being able to move through my contractions. The bed was my enemy!

    Good luck! You can do it!

    http://www.greenbicycledesign.blogspot.com

  28. Jen

    Forgive me if you've already gotten some of this advice (I didn't read through all the comments!), but I couldn't resist posting. I have given birth 3 times naturally, so here's what worked for me:

    1. relaxation during contractions. My mantra was, the pain is doing good work, so let it. So in order to let my uterus work hard I tried to relax the rest of my body. Works really well until you're about 8 cm dialated, then gets hard

    2. The shower is great, esp if you have a hose attachment and your husband can aim the water right at your lower back.

    3. my husband was by my side the entire time, massaging my back or just placing his hands on my hips, so that I could focus on where I had to relax. Was really helpful

    4. I also used the birthing ball, as well as being upright and out of bed.

    5. During transition (which is when you go from about 8 cm to 10 and ready to push) almost every woman gets the feeling that she really can't do it any more. This happened to me every time. My hubby reminded me that it meant that I was almost done, and it helped mentally if not emotionally, and I was able to stay positive and work through the end.

    Sounds like you already have some of these ideas. Can't wait to hear your news!

  29. i'm a guy so no advice really. but i wanted to say congrats and wish you the best of luck.

  30. Liz

    Prayers, Walking, then Epidural – talk about miracle drug!

  31. oh my god where did you get that giraffe lamp!!??!!! too cute! good luck with your delivery!

  32. I may be repeating what's already been said, but for me, and getting ready for my third baby this coming February, these things have helped in the past:

    -walking (a lot…outside, weather permitting) or having some form of movement, rocking on all 4's, etc.
    -chose to not have an epidural with both labors, so focused on breathing quite a bit. Found a rhythym that worked for me during each phase of labor.
    -I am a big visionary person, so weeks and days in advance I would envision the labor pains and envision the birth… all with positivity to create a healthy mindset. (Still knowing that anything is possible!!)
    -Husband support was awesome. He was a great cheerleader and peace bringer.
    -Focusing on the end and not the process of labor. Remembering the great reward at the end of it all!

    Best to you as you anticipate greeting your new baby any day!!

  33. Sara

    All the best with bubba. I found warm showers great, particularly on my lower back and the ball helped too.

  34. I'm behind in commenting, sorry! My most effective method was lots of walking with, essentially plies, during contractions to help move him and open up. I loved the birthing ball earlier but as he moved down I stopped finding it comfortable. I also danced at one point with my husband, toward the end when my legs were tired. And I began to push on all 4 before the serious, get the baby out pushing. That helped when my legs were completely shaky and I had no energy because I couldn't keep anything down:). Mostly I listened to my body and did whatever would open me up, move him down, and work with the contractions. Generally all of those things made the contractions hurt less. Also, a shower would have been great but it was freezing cold with puny pressure so it wasn't as helpful:). But, it would have been FANTASTIC with warm water and steady pressure.

    Ooh, and lots of prayer! I get freaked when he stopped progressing. We ended up breaking my membrane, and I was really set on a 0 intervention birth. But, it was a God thing, after some sweet time with the Lord talking it through I got over my plans for the birth and did what I felt was best for Ethan.

    Congratulations on your impending birth!

  35. Kelly

    Hey! It may sound weird but getting on all fours and rocking side to side. I had to have silence, everyone still, and every thing scent free.

    You will do amazing!

  36. You know, I was a midwife for ten years….
    Best: apart from all the very great suggestions: Go with the flow. Meaning, try your
    methods, breathing, relaxing, moving, as long as the baby is well engaged, massage of the lower back by hubby, picture the baby in your arms, the joy, it helps overcome the pain, make it reasonable, but stay open for all development and act accordingly. If you feel it becomes unbearable, and this is all so relative, take an epidural, the last thing is trying to be too brave!
    I like your openess, it will all be fine, usually third children fit right in from the very beginning!!! I have four, I know a bit about it!
    First child:a c-section,second a forceps, third natural with epi, fourth all natural, in the tub until the end….

    Good luck and good speed!
    I think about you! You might be home for Xmas….

    XX
    Victoria

  37. Tonya

    I did hypnobirthing with both my babies and I fully support it. I felt so prepared for events that you can never really prepare you- know what I mean?
    So along with that, I'd suggest light-touch massage from whomever is going to be there with you through the labor. Super-light fingers trailing over your arms, back, neck, etc. Wherever you want it, basically.
    We did this during pre-birth hypno-exerices and during the labors themselves. In a word- awesome.
    Enjoy your final days of pregnancy!

  38. What wonderful advice you are getting from so many great women! I love your blog, by the way. I am always inspired.

    I am currently pregnant with my fourth child which we are planning to have our second home birth with. All three births were so different but wonderful learning experiences. With every labor I learn a new technique that seems to help.

    A few of my favorites are:
    *Relax. Don't fight the pain. Breathe with it. Tensing up and fighting changes that sensation from intense feeling to pain.
    *A great accupressure spot to help relieve pain is on the ball of your foot. With my second labor, every time I had a contraction, my husband would push his thumb as hard as he could into the ball of my foot. It worked great! His thumbs were sore the next day but it was worth it.
    *A low moaning sound and also blowing raspberries helped. Ina May recommends these techniques because they open up the throat. I also second the suggestion to read her books. Great advice. If it gets too "hippy", just skip past that part.
    *My last piece of advice is a technique that was a life saver in my last birth. With you sitting up on a bed or chair, your husband places one hand on your back, behind your hip then takes his other hand and puts it on the front of your knee. Then he pushes your knee straight back into your hip. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not, but if you play around with it, you'll find the spot. It completely took me through transition like a breeze!

    Good luck and have fun!!!

  39. Sarah

    I have had 5 children naturally…all posterior (sunny side up) births which are supposed to be more painful but how would I know? :) The best birth was with my third child and what made all the difference? THE TUB. Get in there and stay in there…till they kick you out because you feel the urge to push. (My hospital did not allow water births at the time.) It seriously cut the pain in half. The ball was ok up to a certain point and then I hated it. Walking always helped to get through the 3-7 cms. Good luck.

  40. Sarah

    And sorry..just reread your post and missed that last sentence about not being interested in the bath…my suggestion doesn't help at all then!
    You'll do fine…
    Good luck and happy delivery.

  41. momo

    An alternative to an epidural, and which has the advantages that it does not affect the baby and you can still push, is intrathecal morphine. My water broke and I was not allowed to walk around for fear of a prolapsed umbilical cord. When contractions didn't come, labor was induced with pitocin. They ramped up the dosage until the contractions were continuous. The injection made the pain tolerable, allowed me to relax enough to dilate, and still made it possible for me to push and be active.
    Best wishes to you!

  42. I've been reading your blog from the newest to oldest and I love that you said you think this birth would be "unique". From reading the labor story, this birth was definitely unique!

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