How do you choose a birthing technique?

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{Day 26} Happiness Is…Helping to welcome a beautiful baby into the world! I am currently five months pregnant, and people keep asking me which birthing technique I’ll be using. One friend used mindfulness, another swears by Hypnobirthing, another by Bradley, and then there’s the classic Lamaze. I’m sure there are even more, but I already feel overwhelmed by these few. How are you supposed to know which one will work for you when you’ve never been through labor or birth before? How did you choose which technique you would use? — Hannah

Did you implement a birthing technique when you gave birth? How did you decide what to use?

Comments on How do you choose a birthing technique?

  1. In my experience, your birthing technique chooses you. The contractions start coming and you just sort of do it. However it is you end up doing it.

    Helpful, right? For real, though, your body knows what’s up. My technique was “do whatever makes it hurt less right now” – sometimes that was rocking, sometimes “swimming laps” in the tubs, sometimes humming scales.

    • Ha, yeah–amen to this. Once shit started getting real (Hello, 30th hour of back labor) I refused to get up from my left-side fetal position on the bed. That was the ONLY place I could stand to be! No walking, no bouncing, no tub–clinging to the sheets was it! My body just wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

    • I completely agree. I had no idea what would work for me beforehand, and it was just luck that what I did (sitting in the shower) worked so well I was able to have a drug-free birth. But I wasn’t tied to any particular idea or method because from all the conversations I had with friends, it sounded like things never happened as they planned, and then they ended up stressed about what did happen. So I purposely didn’t do much research and went in with few expectations because it made me feel calmer. For me, that feeling was the most important thing.

      Good luck, whatever you choose!

  2. I’ll be honest, I know very little about the different techniques (I found them confusing and intimidating to get into). And I live in a very small community so there are no classes to go to. I did look at different positions, but the only advice I can give is to WALK. Walk everywhere before you are due, walk as you are having contractions, (it does help ease them considerably).Walking also makes the baby be in prime pushing position, head down and gravity assisted. I walked for what seemed like hours, but in the end had what had to be one of the quickest, most pain-free labors I’ve read about.

  3. Despite all of my best efforts to pick a technique (went to classes, read books, researched, practiced squatting and meditation and bouncing on an exercise ball), when it came to my actual labor the birth technique I chose was “oh shit, this hurts, try not to panic.” So be prepared for that…

  4. None! I tapped a woman who has given birth four times “naturally” who I’d trust with my life as my birthing coach then got so overwhelmed with all the techniques, information, and stuff that could go wrong that I threw up my hands and decided I’d just trust my body. Which turned out to know exactly what it was doing. But it was really good I had chosen her because then when I shouted “is it supposed to feel like that?!” she could say “yep, that’s crowning, I like to think of it as the ring of fire” and then I could relax into the pain and let it happen. At least that’s how I remember it. Then again, I also seem to recall inanimate objects speaking encouragement so I think I may have been high on endorphins.

  5. I read the books, did the classes, talked to the other moms…and when labor started, I basically lost the ability to make decisions that weren’t entirely made by my body. The breathing techniques I learned in yoga classes really helped, but other than that, I just rolled with the sensations as they came!

  6. I think each person’s technique depends on: money, time, research/friends, and personality.

    If you can’t afford (or just don’t want to spend the money on) Bradley classes or hypnosis CDs or hiring a doula, that’s going to influence your choices. You can get a Bradley book without paying for the classes, or burn someone else’s CDs, or ask a soothing friend or yoga instructor to help if you think your partner won’t be very relaxing (mine was more like a baseball coach than a whispery echanter) or if you don’t have a partner.

    If your work or your and your partner have different work schedules (like we did), you might not have time to attend a bunch of classes. You might not have time to spend hours doing research online.

    The sources you trust for your research will also influence your choices. If you have friends or relatives with babies, they will no doubt have tons of advice for you. You might be skeptical of certain websites that advocate one thing or another.

    Finally, you have to know yourself. Some women are confident in knowing that they may want an epidural but are willing to try unmedicated. Some are strong enough to fight with their doctors on every intervention and post-natal screen. Some just don’t believe in hypnosis. Some have experience trusting their bodies, even if they haven’t been in labor before. Some trust their midwife or doctor or partner and plan to just follow instructions rather than take a more active role.

    For our first birth, we took all the free classes offered through our health insurance and paid for some of the cheap ones. A friend had a Bradley book, but I never got around to picking it up. I had self-hypnosis CDs for weight loss and relaxation but not for birthing, so I used the tracks that I thought were applicable. I freaked out about a month before the birth when I watched the Business of Being Born and asked my partner if we could hire a doula. He said no. I had heard a flood of horror stories from friends, so I actively spent time online reading about positive birth stories (google “painless childbirth” and “unassisted childbirth”). I didn’t care whether they were true or not because it helped just having positive images to use for visualization. Oh yeah, and I did some intentional daydreaming about different ways things could go down. I spent a lot of time writing and editing my birth plan. I was worried my partner would not advocate for me because he didn’t think it was appropriate to challenge a doctor with 20 years of education and experience. I asked my dad to be prepared to advocate on my behalf.

    A couple weeks before my due date, I made a deal with my baby. When it came down to it, “it’s just you and me, nobody else.” I did what I could to prepare mentally to block out my partner, hospital staff, the pain, etc.

    Good luck!! Planning for your birth teaches you a lot about who you are so the fact that you’re even taking the time to think about these things already says a lot about what a thoughtful mother you will be 🙂

  7. I am avid yoga practitioner and am a proffesional opera singer. I used both of these for my super intense labor. I vocalized my contraction by getting my breath as low as possible and sustaining a pitch using every ounce of technique I could muster (which helped distract from how much it friggin hurt) and labored on my hands and knees breathing in and out of cat and cow postures. I knew anything else involving breathing would confuse my poor body in labor, I’m trained to breath one way and I used it. I ended up with a super fast (3.5 hours) labor, not a drug in site and felt unbelievable afterwards. I think it’s super important to find what works for you and practice the he’ll out of it. You’ll need your body to go on auto pilot durring labor (or atleast I did damn that shi. Hurt)

  8. I think the most important thing is to understand the hospital childbirth education is education about the hospitals policy’s not your rights and options. Educate yourself. Also hiring a doula is the best thing you can do for yourself and your birth! Check out DONA’s website about statistics on mothers satisfaction with their birth experience when a doula is present. If you can’t afford to pay for a doula many will work at a discount or for free if you need them to.

  9. For me it wasn’t a huge set of choices, although they exist in the world, in our world there wasn’t a whole lot available. Luckily, my doula recommended a Bradley class that she had really enjoyed with a teacher who jived with her. I jived with my doula so my husband and I gave it a shot. The concept of a 12 week course worked for us, and the time and money was something we could afford. The biggest lesson that I learned was that no matter what you chose, make sure you DOCTOR knows about your birthing choices/plan as soon as possible. Mine ended up nixing almost everything I wanted because I had to be induced and had complications with gestational diabetes. This wasn’t something I was prepared for and left me very under-educated in a lot of areas.

  10. I think that no matter what method you choose (and medicated or not), hiring a doula is the best choice one can make. Of course I’m biased because I AM a doula, but it’s so great to have someone who isn’t emotionally involved (like a relative) help support you regardless of which method (Hypno, Bradley, Lamaze, etc) you’re choosing. And to help you remember what you chose when you’re in the moment!

    (Edited to add: all the doulas I know offer a sliding scale price range and/or are willing to barter. Also, new doulas are always looking for certification births, and will usually do it for free or very low cost. That’s how I operated when I was just starting, anyway. I was very happy to see others suggest doulas as well. And we’re NOT just for unmedicated births. I’ve helped women with epidurals in hospitals, c-sections, unmedicated home births, etc etc etc. The doula’s job isn’t to judge or push an agenda, but to support the pregnant person and their family. I know that often folks think they can only get a doula if they’re going unmedicated, but sometimes I think I help pregnant people most when they have an epidural or other interventions.)

  11. I didn’t use any method at all. I just really resisted being in a class for some reason. I read a lot about birth, both hospital stuff and more natural stuff, and talked to my friends who had recently had babies a lot. I also read all the birth stories on offbeat families, which gave me a way better idea of the range of variation in what can happen. I did take a prenatal yoga class, which i found really useful, with money i got from my shower. I was lucky to have awesome (and publicly funded aka free) midwives who I felt i could really trust to do natural childbirth by default but medical interventions if necessary.

    I feel like everyone thinks everyone else is taking classes, but when I talk to other mothers I know, most of them didn’t actually take them. I also felt like I just wanted my boyfriend there for moral and emotional support, because its not like he’s a medical professional or has ever been to a birth before, I left the birth support to the midwives. And I had an older woman friend I trust who has had babies to do logistical support like getting water, filling up the birth tub etc (probably not so important if you aren’t having a home birth) If it was ever between classes and a doula (if one didn’t have midwives) I would go for the doula, as most of the research and personal experience suggests that having another woman with you the whole time can be a really important factor in labour. And

    (you can read my birth story on my blog by clicking on my name above and scrolling down a tiny bit to the birth entries- its a pretty positive one i think so its pretty safe to read)

  12. I’m currently studying Hypnobabies home course. I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I chose Hypnobabies because I liked how the labors looked on the videos I watched online. Peaceful, quiet, and serene. After reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth it relies on trusting what your body is built to do. With the Hypnobabies ‘scripts’ I’ve done so far it feels like it they go hand in hand with what I want my birth to be.

    When I asked my friends online what technique they used in their births most of the answers were, “went to the hospital and got an epidural.” I’m grateful for the research I’ve done and happy with my choice so far. Hopefully my birth will be the joy I envision.

  13. I took classes… I don’t know of what technique but I did, here in Mexico is called profilaxis and they teach you to breathe and excersice so the baby comes easily and faster. I think I’m going to go with the idea of: “this feels right, well I’m gonna do this”

    But I’m sure of one thing… I DON’T WANT PAINKILLERS!!! No epidural for me, thank you. I’m scared of them and all the moms in my life have horror stories of the secondary effects they had afterwards. For example, my mom had back pains for two years after I was born, my bff had her daughter a year ago and she still has back pain, another friend had her son three years ago and her back still hurts sometimes… so no, I rather suffer a lot once than a little bit for years.

    But well, I’m 38.5 weeks, I’m just waiting for him to decide when to come and say hi so… I’ll tell you later if my “plan” worked.

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