Avoid Fight or Flight
Labor is not linear. Break the Cycle.
The Blood Needs to Flow to the Uterus
When blood flows easily to the uterus, an amazingly powerful muscle, a laboring mom may feel more comfort and her labor may flow with more efficient contractions. If she relaxes deeply then her body can more easily send the blood where it is most needed. With all of the other muscles in her body at rest, including her mind, she will enhance the physiological process of birth.
Create Your Own Cycle of Comfort- Relaxation-& Confidence to Optimize Your Birth Experience
Stress or any situation that stimulates a laboring mother's mind sends blood away from her uterus and into her thinking brain and her extremities. When her uterus is deprived of blood flow she may feel more pain. Her baby and placenta will have less oxygen as well. The goal is to avoid the fear, tension, pain cycle by creating an environment that enhances the physiological process. If a mother experiences this cycle she can break it and get back into a place of comfort where her blood flow goes primarily back into her uterus. Removing the source of stress or disruption is key, whether it is too many questions, a need for privacy or her own fears surfacing. It is important to create an environment that is calm, encouraging and that will not overstimulate or interfere with a mom's concentration during labor.
Dealing With Stressful Situations
When the mother comes into her place of birth or when her birth team arrives, it is possible for the blood flow to be shifted away from the uterus. When arriving in a hospital setting, there are often bright lights and a requirement to first go to the L&D triage. It is here that many hospitals go over a long intake form with the couple, monitor the baby, offer a cervical exam, an IV or an IV port (hep lock), and look at her vitals. This is a lot of stimulation and if the nurse has a lot of other women in triage that she is assigned to, she might be in a hurry. One thing that her birth team can do to help her is slow down the process. Often, the mother will feel more uncomfortable lying on her back in the bed. If she is very far in active labor she may not want to be in the bed at all. The bed can be elevated and she can get on it facing the back while on her knees or she can be on all fours, rather than lying down. These positions will continue to encourage labor to move forward and will help to increase her comfort. The nurse may or may not have familiarity with these birthing positions and placing monitors around the mother's comfort. It is ironic that in order to monitor the baby, the monitoring process restricts the mother, which may shift the blood flow, create discomfort, cause the mother stress and restrict oxygen and nourishment from reaching the baby, and thereby potentially placing the baby in distress. The very measure meant to protect the baby has a high chance of doing the opposite. Unfortunately, most hospital staff are not taught this preventative knowledge and their clinical focus is on data, gathering information and acute responsive care. We have to advocate for the balance between preventative and responsive care, making use of our knowledge about the physiological process of birth. At the end of the day, we are the ones who walk out with the results.
Support Person - talk to the nurse about how you can help her place the monitor, while the mom finds the labor position that brings her the most comfort. Take over the questions whenever possible. Talk to the nurse diplomatically, but with certainty that the laboring mom can have freedom of movement first and foremost for her comfort and the baby's safety. The convenience of the hospital, schedules and the staff are secondary.
As the laboring mom, - focus within yourself. Don't let anything into your mind that is not helping you deepen your relaxation. This is not a time to worry about social conventions or to feel obligated to engage in conversation. Your baby is your priority and your comfort and blood flow are directly connected to your baby's safety and well-being.
Focus on Your Breath. Turn Inward.
Stay Calm. Send Oxygen to Your Baby.
Breathe Slowly and Deeply and Shut the World Out.
Don't let Anything or Anyone in that is Stressful.
You are in Control of Your Body and Your Birth.
Getting the monitors in place takes off some of the pressure to complete the routine procedures, because the most significant one is in place and can be adjusted as needed to conform to the mom's movements. It is up to the mom if she wants to have an IV port opened in her body, or if she wants a vaginal exam, which may be very disruptive to her body. These decisions can be placed on hold or delayed if she desires and if it makes sense for her individual needs. Placing a complete stranger's fingers into her vagina, may be inhibiting to the flow of her hormones and create pain. Most hospitals say that they require a cervical check for admission, but you can ask for them to observe the length of the contraction and look for other signs of labor progress. A vaginal exam is not essential to the birthing process. If she does not want one and the staff insists, it is sexual assault and she has every right to say no. Sometimes it may help to ask to speak to the head nurse, the head OB or you may be able to request to speak to a patient advocate who is employed by the hospital. Always remember that the laboring mom is the one paying for a service. It is her body and her choice. Once the mom is in the room, the birth team can help her interface with the staff. Maintain a soft voice, slow manner of speaking, and cheerful countenance. The laboring mom will feed off of your emotions, so keep them upbeat, yet calming. She needs to know there is one person in the room who is balanced and on her side. Create a calm environment with low lights, music if desired, rebozo support around the room, essential oils, and use comfort measures to help her cope. Remind her to deepen, soften and help her dip and sway her body.