It is no surprise that one of the most common reasons people hire a doula is because they are looking for a trained professional to help them reach their birthing goals. For many, attempting a natural childbirth is at the top of their list. For others, a goal of getting an epidural during active labor is the goal. For some, medication as soon as they walk through the door of the hospital is part of their birth plan.
No matter your decision, your Stars and Stripes doula will support you and provide physical comfort with the following techniques depending on your preference:
- Double Hip Squeeze: As it sounds, the double hip squeeze (featured above) is a type of pressure massage applied to the hip bones which aids in the opening of the pelvis. This can be helpful during contractions and especially for posterior babies. The body is full of relaxin allowing the ligaments to move and for this opening to provide relief for the birthing woman and a little extra room for the baby.
- Counter-Pressure: A strong, steady pressure applied to one spot on the lower back (that spot varies by your level of comfort) that can provide relief during contractions. This can be done with the heel of one hand or two.
- Movement and Position Changes: Our doulas are experts in suggesting positions that may increase comfort and help with the progression of labor. We may suggest that you try a position for a certain number of contractions then try another. Movement, particularly upright movement, is optimal during labor when appropriate.
- Essential Oils: If you use essential oils at home, we may suggest bringing your diffuser or inhalation sticks during labor. The scent can uplift, relax, or provide relief from nausea during labor. If you do not use essential oils, labor is not a good time to try them for the first time as the risk of aversions or allergies would be unpleasant. You might consider instead bringing your favorite scented lotion, room spray, or candle with an electric warmer.
- Sounds: Believe it or not music can be a comfort measure! It can help make the room more upbeat or soothing as needed. It is always special when babies are born to a special song. In addition to music, guidance from a loved one or your doula taking you back to your wedding day, favorite vacation spot, or imaging a soothing place/mantra is helpful!
- Hand and foot massage: While the brain is a complicated organ, one thing we’ve learned is that pleasure can override pain to an extent. Hand and foot massages are one way to increase this pleasurable sensation. Tip: Ask your doula to show you the “breaking the popsicle” method!
- Heat and Cold: A cool washcloth to the forehead, a warm heating pad behind the back, or a warm washcloth on the perineum can all be great ways to use heat/cool to your advantage. Be sure to switch things up every twenty minutes or so to maximize effectiveness.
- Dancing: Dancing can help in a variety of ways! Slow dancing with your partner increases oxytocin and provides gentle swaying movement that helps baby to descent. Faster dances, which you probably see floating around on social media, can help with distraction, the baby’s descent, comfort, and create an upbeat and fun atmosphere.
While we have a few more tricks up our sleeve, these basics are great for your partner to learn and you can rely on your doula to know these plus more! Be sure to share with your doula which comfort measures you hope to try or those that you are not interested in!
Written by: Melissa Nauss, Owner | Lead Doula for Stars and Stripes Doulas of New Orleans