Doula

Natural Pain Relief Techniques

"Giving birth should be your greatest achievement, not your greatest fear." - Jane Weiderman

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When you become pregnant, often a huge worry for moms is how badly labor and delivery will hurt. Although childbirth is painful, the way we approach that pain and acknowledge that pain will have a huge impact on how the birth pans out. When you hire a doula she is trained in specific natural pain relief techniques that really do make a difference. I'm going to discuss a few of my favourite pain relief techniques that I myself have utilized in my own deliveries and ones I've used as a Doula for past clients.

First up: Hydrotherapy

Some people refer to water as the Midwives epidural. In all of my experiences so far as a Doula, when a woman goes into the shower or warm bath or even the feeling of a warm or cool cloth on her, I have immediately seen a relaxing effect upon her.  The use of water during labor and childbirth promotes relaxation of the mother and provides comfort. If you are a person who likes to have a warm bath during her menstrual cycle or a warm shower, chances are getting into the shower or tub while you are in labor will help to comfort and relax you and help to decrease your pain. I usually recommend to my clients to hop into a warm shower or bath (you don't want the water hot) when she is around 5 or so cm dilated because sometimes hopping into the water too early can slow down labor.

Click here for a detailed explanation on the physiology of why water helps with pain relief and during labor.

Water is an amazing tool for moms/dads/doulas/midwives/doctors/etc to utilize when a woman is in labor. It is free, readily available (in most circumstances) and is proven to be effective and safe when followed with evidenced based practices.

Second: The Hip Squeeze

What is a hip squeeze you ask? It's a magical wonderful maneuver that your doula will do especially in the event that you are experiencing back labor. Back labor occurs due to baby's positioning. When the baby's face is facing the mothers abdomen (occiput posterior) the back of the baby's head will put pressure on the mothers sacrum which can cause a significant amount of discomfort during labor. Performing a double hip squeeze helps to open the pelvis into a relaxed position and relieve pressure off of the mothers sacrum. It also helps to reposition a baby who is in a posterior position and can help a baby who is slow to descend. 

So, how do you do it? I've added a video for you to watch. You can also use a Rebozo to perform a double hip squeeze, but I'll have a bit more info about what a rebozo is later on. (I do carry one in my birth bag for clients).

 

Last for now: Massage/Conscious Touch

Touch is a universal language. We can convey many different messages in the way we use touch. For example, you can show love with touch or you can show anger with touch. When we are consciously aware of the way we touch people we convey the message that we are present. When a woman is in labor it can truly be hard to relax the body, the way you approach her will determine how she responds to that. The goal is ultimately to help her relax to help decrease her pain and improve her comfort. By being aware of the way you hold her hand, or massage her back and focusing on holding space for her while you do that it will help to promote relaxation on her end. Offering a gentle, warm massage in a slow continuous manner is a great technique to help relax mom. 

There are a ton of different natural pain relief techniques. I'll provide a list below of them. Being realistic with your expectations is super important. The three techniques I discussed here are my personal go-to's while a woman is in labor. However, every birth is different and each woman may not want these techniques. It is important to change positions, keep hydrated and listen to your body while you're in labor. Having a doula there for support will help to provide comfort, emotional support and be your guide through this journey. It is important to do your research about labor and delivery and your options. Your doula can guide you and provide you with evidenced based resources. Most of all choose techniques that work best for you and your body, but be mindful of the risks/benefits to all techniques. I am not a medical professional, and I will never provide you with medical advice as your doula, but I will encourage you to research both natural and medicated pain relief methods.

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From Pinterest

 

 

Labor is hard but you already have the power within you to get through it. My job is to help make you as comfortable as possible and to remind you of that strength and power you already have within you.

XO

 

 

Images of techniques courtesy of Pinterest. 

 

Do you babywear?

"Carry them to the moon and back, with a woven wrap on your belly or back. Hold them close and keep them warm. Forever together, forever as one."

- unknown

True North Slings

Did you wear your baby? Have you considered wearing your baby? Mom of multiples? Here's your new best friend: Babywearing. Here's why:

Babywearing has endless benefits not only to baby, but to mom/dad/wearer as well. The Babywearing International Website states that:

“Medical professionals agree that infants thrive through touch; “wearing” your baby is another way to meet this need. The benefits of babywearing don’t end there … babywearing offers many other advantages, some of which include:

Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. (1)

Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. (2)

Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression. (3) (4)

Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!

Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier!”
— Babywearing International
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I started researching Babywearing when my first was about six weeks old. He went through a phase of Purple Crying in which he would not be happy unless he was in my arms and sometimes cry for up to 6 hours a day. I've always been drawn to the attachment style of parenting, so I researched Babywearing and found it's benefits endless. I purchased a ring sling as my first carrier and proceeded to wear my newborn for hours on end as it was the only thing that would soothe him. He was safe and snuggled against my skin, able to hear my heartbeat and breathing and have easy access to my breast when he wanted. I was able to get things done around my house and have some of my sanity back. As he was a premature baby, our breastfeeding journey started off rocky, so Babywearing improved that by allowing him to eat when he pleased and the skin to skin contact allowed him to work on his latch, smell my milk, and it decreased my stress levels. I then ordered a structured carrier that we used when he was a bit older. As I delved more into the Babywearing community, I discovered soft structured wraps and purchased a few of those as well. (Now I have a collection that seems to continue to grow because I may be a bit obsessed with the beautiful wraps you can get out there..) 

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When we found out I was pregnant with our second, Babywearing was a no brainer as our babies would be about 18 months apart. So obviously I was going to need free hands to play with Jackson but I also didn't want Jaana to be left in a swing chair all day. I wanted both of my babies to have my attention, so Babywearing makes sense for us. I still wear both of my babies, and I've even purchased a "dolly" wrap for Jackson so he can wear his babies when mommy wears Jaana. Wearing your child promotes bonding, improves mental and emotional health for both mom and baby and it just feels good. Not only does it give us the ability to go out and do things, but if we have other children it allows us to model active parenting and encourage closeness with our children. 

There are a ton of different ways to wear your baby, and you need to research what is safe and what is not. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, but almost every single brand that makes baby carriers provides online tutorials that are incredibly helpful, especially if you're just getting started. Children love to be close to their parents, and Babywearing doesn't have to stop after 1 year old. I still wear Jackson and it gives us extra snuggle time and I love it. Just be sure to follow the weight limit on your carrier. 

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Generally speaking, the rules of thumb for Babywearing is that:

1) baby is at kissable height

2) baby's face/airways are clear and visible

3) baby has a deep seat with knees higher than bum (sitting in an "M" shape.

Choosing a baby carrier that you feel 100% safe with is so important, after all they do hold our most precious cargo.  

Here's a list of my favourite carriers. I've linked their websites to their names so you can check them out to see more.

Ring Slings:  True North Slings - a Canadian company that makes absolutely beautiful linen ring slings that both of my children absolutely love. These give the best sleepy dust and come in the most gorgeous colours. Their maker is pretty awesome too :)

Soft Wraps: Beluga Baby - another Canadian (British Columbia) made bamboo wrap that is absolutely wonderful. These are the softest wraps that provide a four way stretch and I find these to be so insanely comfortable, not only for me but for my babies as well.

Solly Baby Wraps - These are a company made in the U.S. and they have the most gorgeous patterns.  These wraps are buttery soft and have just enough stretch in them to not become loose during the day.

Structured Carriers: Tula Baby - these carriers are super comfortable, and can be worn both in the front and the back. I love my Tula carrier for going hiking and going on longer adventures, especially for the heavier babies  because they provide a lot more support.

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As a Doula, I highly recommend Babywearing. It not only provides amazing benefits to you and baby, but it really allows for more special snuggle time to bond with your baby. It makes the adjustment to parenthood and motherhood a bit easier. As a mother, Babywearing has been a lifesaver. It has brought back my sanity, allow me to spend quality time with both of my children, and it allows me to continue my job as a doula/birth photographer as I can bring my child with me. It makes those days and nights not feel so endless, soothes upset tummies, eases a wakeful toddler, and gives the most amazing sleepy dust to our children. Both of my children could sleep for hours in their carriers and I genuinely will miss my Babywearing days when they are over. 

 

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