Trusting your instincts in labor

There’s something truly wonderful that happens when a mother is given the opportunity to move around and trust her instincts with her own labor. 

About a year ago I was actually getting the incredible experience of giving birth overseas in Germany (I am the spouse to a US military member) and the maternity related health care is much different than anything I had prepared myself for in the states.  I read numerous articles and prepared myself to deal with a labor primarily in bed.  Thankfully, here in Europe there is a much better understanding that “gravity does the work” (a quote directly by one of the midwives at the hospital). 

Finding the right position

In the labor and delivery room, they have plenty of birth tools to help mothers get into better positions, including a birth ball and a birth stool. They also encouraged me to move around and try squats and walking up and down stairs while my labor had stalled awhile.  For me, the one position I couldn’t help but want to get into?  I wanted to be on all fours, whether that was leaning on the hospital bed or the birth ball.

Instincts drove me into this position.

Changing positions

As a doula, I have found that mothers tend to know best about what is best.  Whether they are wanting to go to the ever wonderful bathroom toilet or wanting to lean on their partner and slow dance their baby down into position, trust that.

And a little tip that I have learned through experience and through books like The Birth Partner, it is very important that support persons encourage mothers to change positions every 20-30 minutes to encourage natural labor progress, just remember to allow mother to speak her wishes because there’s something powerful in that instinct of hers.

Have you noticed a trend though in some of the tools and positions I have briefly covered so far?

There definitely is one. Almost none of the positions are laying on a mother’s back in a hospital bed.

Allowing ‘gravity to do the work’

This type of positioning is simply optimal for the hospital care team, not the mother. There is nothing that allows “gravity to do the work” or to encourage an optimal position for baby to enter and move their way through the pelvis.  Now, of course there are times when a mother should be in bed, such as with an epidural in place.  Yet, with birth tools and support physically and mentally, with tools like a rebozo being used by a birth support person or even a CUB placed between mother’s legs to open up her pelvis, there are ways to help the body bring baby down the birth canal and into mother and family’s arms.  And with evidenced based care and listening to a mother’s wishes, a birth support team can better work hand-in-hand with the birthing mother.

In summary, the experience I had with birthing overseas opened my eyes to the importance of trusting your instincts in birth and to encourage gravity to do the work. And it taught me the power of validating a mother’s wishes and giving her the physical, mental, and spiritual support to be empowered in her birth experience. 

Becoming a CUB Ambassador

Finally, my own birth experience and my instincts that drove me to wanting to be on all fours and leaning in a squat against my husband is a big part of why I am honored and excited about being an ambassador for the CUB.  This tool would have been perfect for my long labor and for leaning on all fours in a comfortable manner or sitting in a leaning position against my husband.  Its versatility to encourage an upright position for momma or an open pelvis when necessary is why I am looking forward to being able to use this tool with my own doula clients.  I want my clients to know they have options and they too can trust their instincts during their labor. The laboring mother will be empowered and supported during her pregnancy, birth, and beyond and that’s truly what matters at the core of my practice and the CUB is just one tool I will use to achieve that goal.

Author:  Laura BrigmanLB Doula