Music, this is something that I have had a number of clients ask me about. Do I know of a good birth playlist? What are some songs I would suggest for birth?
Lets be honest. We (you and I) are some pretty cool people but the music that moves us may not be on the same groove. With that in mind I wanted to think about what *I* would put on a birth playlist. Something more than Erykah badu(doula) and Salt-n-Pepas "Push it". Don't get me wrong, I am more than sure you would see some Badula on my list but what else? Would I make it clever? Hurts so good, Under Pressure, Comfortably Numb, and the ever prevalent Ring of fire?,
All great songs but I can hardly expect the right song to be playing at the right moment. I think your playlist just needs to be something that makes you feel. Something that makes you want to close your eyes and move. or that helps you relax, step into yourself and sink into the sensation. Something that takes you back, Maybe something that means a great deal to you.
You can listen to it throughout your pregnancy or maybe just at night when you are naturally entering a relaxed state. Training yourself. So that when you go into labor you can hit play and be taken to that peaceful place. Or maybe it will inspire you to start your sway (get your doula hula on!).
Its less about theme and more about preference. You dont have to set your music to your birth. Your life already has a soundtrack, just keep playing it.
So, here it is. There is nothing all that birthy about it except that most of these songs have a base line that makes me feel heavy and connected. Thats it. Thats all that makes them birthy. The words don't really lend themselves to birth. I just dig them. Done.
You can do like I did and hop on Soundcloud and make a playlist, plug your ipod in and hit shuffle or maybe just pick a station on pandora and start your groove. What are some songs that move you? Have you got anything smooth, mellow and deep to add to my list? Let me know, I would love to add it!
Four and a half years ago I attended a birth that affirmed, to me, why mothers who CHOOSE epidurals should still consider hiring a doula. Mama was 42 weeks and consented to an induction for being "overdue." She was hoping to still go pain medication free. I supported her and her husband as she worked hard for several hours before reaching a breaking point emotionally and asking for an epidural. When her epidural was placed, it only worked on one side of her body. She felt the full force of the contractions on the other side. So we rolled her to help distribute the medication on the other side.. While this helped shift coverage of the epidural medication to the other side as well, it still left an area on her abdomen that was feeling the force of the contractions. It was about the size of my hand. I sat pressing on this spot through contractions for several hours before mom was complete. Once her epidural was placed we also needed to do some positional tricks to help make room in her pelvis for a baby descending with his head just a little crooked. When it came time to push we thought for sure this would go quickly, we could see the baby descending. Unfortunately the mother pushed for a grueling 4.5 hours due to that crooked head. She and her family needed all the love and support that the midwives and I had to give. We worked hard to overcome the epidural in order to move her to alternative positions for pushing to help this baby descend. He was born vaginally but mom needed a lot of support for that birth.
To begin with, your doula will help you to make an informed decision about receiving an epidural by encouraging you to ask questions and to help you review the pros and cons. She can also help you with comfort measures until you are further along in your labor before receiving your epidural which will help to decrease the number of additional interventions such as pitocin augmentation, episiotomy, forceps delivery, and cesarean. Once you are in an established labor pattern it is less likely you will have trouble with baby's presentation as your labor continues. and baby's position is a major factor in stalled labors. It is important to have an open mind about the tools and tricks you will use to navigate your birthing journey, you may find that you do not need that epidural after all. Your doula will support you, no matter what you choose.
Having an epidural placed is no cakewalk either! Often it can be arranged that your doula can stay with you and your partner while the anesthesiologist places your epidural. She can support you through the one or two contractions you will have during placement, as well as helping you to cope with the general discomfort of having it placed. Afterwards she can help to get you and your family comfortable.
Because your doula is amazing, she will ensure that you remain the focus of your birthing journey after your epidural is placed. There are many tubes and monitors involved when an epidural is in place, so that a mother's assigned care providers can monitor her labor from down the hall. Your doula continues to focus on you and not the equipment you are surrounded by, She encourages the rest of your support team to stay supportive and engaged in the process.
Your doula will help you change position regularly to encourage baby to descend. She may use pillows or a specialized birth ball to get you comfortable and keep your labor progressing. When it comes time to push your doula can work with your partner and other support people to get into more effective positions for pushing your baby out. She may spot you at the squat bar, or help you with a rebozo to maximize your efforts. Pushing a baby out when you have an epidural often can take a little longer, and your doula will be there to encourage you and your supporters during this time..
Overall your doula is still caring for your emotional well-being. If an emergency arises she will provide comfort and information as the medical staff goes into swift action. She remains in YOUR service at all times and works to meet your needs and the needs of your family. "Drs & Midwives are focused on 'healthy baby, healthy mom.' Doulas are focused on 'healthy mind, healthy bond." (Randy Patterson, Owner & Operator of Pro Doula). This means your doula is going to continue to actively serve you regardless of what type of birth you choose or what happens during your labor and birth.
Epidurals can be an amazing tool for some mothers, there is definitely a time and a place and I have seen an epidural save a woman from a c-section by allowing her to rest and relax, and allowing baby to navigate the pelvis. I have seen an epidural bring down a climbing blood pressure to protect a mother and baby and allow a non-emergent birth. I have also seen epidurals fail to provide relief. I have seen them paralyze a woman's pelvic floor and lead to vacuum assisted deliveries and cesarean sections I have seen epidurals cause baby and mom to suddenly go into distress and get rushed into c/s. I have seen them provide spotty relief. I have seen them leave women alone in a room and ignored by her family since now she is not in pain. I have also served women who planned an epidural but were unable to get one due to a rapid labor or a long wait for the anesthesiologist. All these reasons are why you need a doula there, even if you PLAN on getting an epidural.
Problem: During those first few precious days of nursing a new mother often has many visitors. Often these visitors want to hold the baby, comfort their cries with rocking motions, give mom a "break" by holding him/her, etc. These things are all nice... but they can also cause a disruption of that initial bond. That crying baby needs to nurse most of the time, not to be rocked, soothed, or pacified. If the visitor is staying in your home for an extended period of time they might be doing more harm than good.
Solution: Make a postpartum plan, just like a birth plan, that outlines your wishes, limits, and expectations. Share this with everyone before the baby is born and after. Please understand that the postpartum period is about YOU, BABY, and YOUR FAMILY, not your visitors. They should not expect you to host and cater to their needs. There is nothing wrong with asking visitors to bring food for the family, fold a load of laundry, and help out with household things so that you are better able to care for and bond with your baby. There is also nothing wrong with printing up a sign asking guests to wash their hands immediately upon arrival to your home and to limit visits to 30 minutes or less. I know Michelle at Mother Nurtured Midwifery has a sign families can post on their door following the birth of the baby. This allows the family to use her as a scape goat Isn't that sweet?
If this visitor is staying in your home, you may need to have a frank discussion with them about the importance of bringing baby to the breast often. This may lead into unwanted advice about how you are 'spoiling' the baby or that they must be 'starving and you should use formula since they nurse so much' and it is important to remember that babies have tiny tiny stomachs that need to be refilled with the good stuff frequently. It is biologically normal for your baby to wake at night to refill and to nurse very frequently during the day. There is nothing wrong with this, with your baby, or with you.
One of the biggest culprits behind milk supply issues is the fact that baby is not permitted unlimited access to the breast and one reason that baby does not get this access is because mom has many visitors to entertain, share baby with, and she may not be comfortable nursing in front of them, even in her own home. So limit visitors and if baby wants to suck, don't give baby a pacifier so grandma or aunty or neighbor can hold the baby a little longer. Give that baby a breast and ask your visitor to bring you a glass of water and a snack.
Please make sure all your visitors know how committed you are to breastfeeding, ask THEM to leave the room if you or they are uncomfortable with nursing at that time. This is your time to bond with baby, you need lots of rest, water, and skin to skin time. Your guests can admire baby while baby is in your arms, and even at your breast! Baby is at his or her best in your arms in those first days anyway. That's where baby was meant to be. Accept help around the home, with older children, and with meals, not with baby. Baby is your task these first weeks, developing a bond, establishing milk supply, and recovering from the birth are your only responsibilities Newborns are boring anyway (or so they say) there will be lots of time as baby gets older for giggles, smiles, playing, and the like. For now, you need a hot meal, a jug of water, and quiet time with your baby.
**I originally posted this article on The Good Letdown a few years ago in collaboration with a good friend of mine, Deanna.**