When most people think about laboring and having a baby, they think of a hospital bed.
After all, it's what we see in the movies and on television and it's where a good majority of women have their babies. And, laboring in bed is excellent, as long as that's where you WANT to be.
But, what if you don't want to be in bed? Then what??
Here's a look at our top 5 alternative, out-of-bed labor locations.
Water birth is a great option- for a great reason! Water is a fantastic tool to use for the laboring woman; it is warm and relaxing and there's just something about getting in a tub for a nice soak. But... when laboring, you must be cautious of getting into a tub too early as it can actually slow down your progress. Relaxing is good. Stalled labor, not so good. So, consider a shower instead! It's a great alternative to the tub, for several reasons: being upright is great for helping labor progress (remember, gravity is your friend). Being upright puts pressure on the cervix and can help contractions pick up and get longer, stronger, and closer together. And, you're still free to move around- think squat, kneel, rock back and forth, whatever your little laboring heart desires! You can even put a labor ball in the stall to sit on. Added bonus: your support people still have access to your back for things like counter pressure, massage, etc.
Sometimes, you just need to walk. But, what if you've already been admitted to the hospital? Head out to the hallway! I've spent many hours as a doula walking the halls with clients. Walking is another great tool to help labor progress but remember- walk with a purpose. We aren't on a leisurely stroll; we're walking to have a baby! Get moving! Pick up the pace and find your rhythm. Many times with clients, we get into a pattern...walk, stop and squat at the next corner (or picture, or outlet, or whatever) for a contraction, get up and make it to the next corner (or picture, or outlet or whatever). Repeat.
Outside can be an excellent way to get a change of scenery and get some walking in at the same time. Sometimes it happens at home when mom needs a break from looking at the same four walls. Maybe it's at a birth center and things have stalled a bit so we hit the pavement and take a stroll around the block. Or, sometimes mom wants to be near her hospital but isn't quite ready to check in, for whatever reason, so we walk and labor in the parking lot. Either way, the fresh air and change of scenery can work wonders!
If you're like me, the last thing I wanted to do while in labor was climb stairs. The flight of stairs at Fort Worth Birth Center may as well have been Mt. Everest. I wanted to say really bad words to my doula when she told me that's what I needed to do. But I did them. And it helped. As a doula, I've received my fair share of eye-daggers from clients when I suggest the same thing to them. BUT...stairs serve a purpose. When contractions don't get into a nice pattern, that can indicate that baby may not be in the best position. So, we hit the stairs. Sometimes we climb them straight on. Most of the time, we do them sideways. Either way, they help move the pelvis in a way that will *hopefully* get baby into a better position.
Stay with me, here. First of all, your baby (probably) won't be born on or in the toilet so relax. Actually, speaking of relaxing... what are we programmed to do when we sit on the toilet?? That's right! We have been taught from an early age to sit and relax our bottom so we can potty. And, having a nice, relaxed bottom is key to progressing in labor. You can choose to sit forward like normal or consider sitting backward. You can put a pillow on the tank and rest between contractions, and just like in the shower, your support people still have access to your back for counter pressure, heat packs, etc. Remember- you don't have to be at home for this trick to work- I bet your doula knows how to rig up the toilet in the hospital to be just as comfy!