When and How Labor Begins
What Childbirth is Really Like
Here’s a quick overview of the stages of labor, and what to expect from when labor begins till the birth and the delivery of the placenta. And here’s an overview of the most common medical procedures for labor and birth, such as IV fluids, breaking the bag of water, fetal heart rate monitoring, and episiotomy.
Labor Pain – Options
There are a wide range of options for coping with the pain of labor, from breathing and relaxation techniques to baths, from massage to movement, from nitrous oxide to epidurals. Here’s what new parents said about what labor pain relief methods were most helpful, and what research on labor pain relief says it most effective. No matter your preferences for pain relief, it’s important to know that fear makes labor more painful, so it’s helpful to make a plan for reducing fear during labor.
Comfort Techniques for Labor
When planning for how you’ll cope with labor pain, it’s helpful to ask yourself some questions about what comfort techniques help you when you’re sick, or worried, or have a headache. This worksheet can help give you insight into your coping style. Prior to labor, it’s helpful to learn several coping techniques – even if you’re planning an epidural, because sometimes you need some tools to help you cope until pain medication is available, or in case medication does not provide enough relief. You can learn those techniques from our book, or, even better, from an in-person childbirth preparation class. Then you’ll want to practice them – here’s a labor practice guide. And you can take notes about what you think will be most effective for you, using this checklist of labor comfort techniques.
Medications for Pain Relief
In the book, we provide an overview of the major options for medication during labor, including IV narcotics and epidural analgesia. This chart gives more details on all the pain medications for labor and birth, including those used for cesarean birth. Nitrous oxide is not covered in detail in our book, so here is an overview of how nitrous is used for labor pain relief.
When Childbirth Becomes Complicated
In the book, we cover a variety of possible complications and possible interventions. One intervention that may be proposed for a variety of reasons is labor induction – starting a labor that hasn’t started on its own, or augmentation – speeding a labor that is already in process. This chart summarizes all the methods for labor induction and augmentation, from self-help to complementary medicine to medical procedures including Pitocin.
Typically from week 35 onward, babies turn head down toward the cervix in preparation for labor. When they are head up, that is called breech position, and in the United States, breech babies are typically delivered by cesarean. In the book, we cover several ways to encourage baby to turn, including self-help, complementary medicine, and a procedure called external version. Here are the details on how an external version is performed.
All About Cesarean Birth
We cover almost all the details of cesarean birth in the book. We only briefly touch on the microbiome there, so here is more information about seeding and feeding our microbiomes.
Even More Resources: We tried to be as comprehensive with our book as possible, and added the supplementary information on this website; however, there’s even more great information available about labor and birth. We include links to lots more childbirth resources here.