Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Making labor easier...with childbirth education

Not long after I started working as a doula in Houston, I began to notice an interesting trend. My clients who took an independent childbirth class were more likely to achieve the birth they were seeking. Witnessing how much more prepared for labor those clients were fueled my desire to become a childbirth educator.

There are many excellent options for childbirth education, but I will focus on Birth Boot Camp. Birth Boot Camp is a modern, evidence-based, and comprehensive course geared towards couples planning a natural childbirth. While the focus is on natural childbirth, the curriculum equips couples to navigate any type of birth.

What is an independent childbirth class?

An independent childbirth class is a childbirth class that is unaffiliated with a hospital or birth center. In other words, the curriculum is independent of any institution's philosophies about birth. 

How can taking an independent childbirth class make labor easier?

Childbirth education helps to prepare you and your partner by providing tools that can make labor easier. The skills couples learn in Birth Boot Camp classes include the following:


Right from the start, couples begin to learn about relaxation. Learning how to relax your body and mind is crucial for making labor easier. In a society where relaxation is seen as unproductive and lazy, and achievement and busy-ness are considered superior, many people need to re-learn this important skill. The Field Manual each couple receives contains scripts and guided relaxations that couples practice during class and on their own at home. While relaxation may not look the same to everyone, it is important to learn how to relax your mind and body during labor. Childbirth classes teach you how.

Comfort Measures

Beginning in Class 2, couples fill their tool box with different comfort measures that can help ease the discomforts of labor.  Being up and active often helps labor to progress more smoothly, but that is often the last thing people want to do once they are in active labor! Learning various comfort measures can make this easier.


Birth Boot Camp teaches couples how to navigate their health care. From teaching about common tests and procedures that occur during pregnancy that can change the course of labor before it even has a chance to begin, to choosing a care provider that will support the birth you are seeking, couples will learn the information they need to navigate their care. Being able to discern when to accept or decline certain interventions is one of the most important skills needed to having the kind of birth you want and for making labor easier.


Finally, being surrounded by other couples who are in the same place as you and being armed with tools to have your best birth will give you confidence. Confidence helps make labor much easier. Confidence relaxes your mind. Confidence relaxes your muscles. A relaxed mind and relaxed muscles make labor much easier.

Check out to find a Birth Boot Camp class near you.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Making labor easier...with water!

One of my favorite tools to use during labor, not only for my own labors, but for my clients as well, is water. I have experienced first-hand the benefits water provides during labor. Below are several ways to use water during labor to help make labor easier.


Many women find a lot of comfort laboring in the tub. So much so that they often give birth in there. When a baby is born under water, usually in a tub or birth pool, it is called a water birth. Water birth is available in Houston in most homes and birth centers. Unfortunately, at this time, there are no hospitals in Houston that offer water birth. There are a few that are equipped to offer the option of laboring in the tub, but delivering your baby in the tub won't be allowed. Check with your hospital to see if this option is available.

Many women choose water birth or water labor because it has been shown to shorten labor, speed up labor, and helps to ease the discomforts of labor. For these reasons, it has been dubbed "Nature's Epidural."


Sometimes laboring in the tub is not feasible for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons I have seen are: the facility is not equipped with tubs, having ruptured membranes with a care provider who is not comfortable with the client laboring in the tub, or the electronic fetal monitors do not work very well in the tub. Sometimes women just don't like the idea of laboring in the tub.

The shower is a great compromise. Showers provide many of the same benefits as tubs. Using the shower during labor also provides an opportunity for some much-needed privacy, which is also super beneficial for labor. Feeling watched can slow labor down.


It is important to stay hydrated during labor. Dehydration can slow contractions down during labor. Take sips of water between contractions, or try a nice Labor-aid recipe. One of the perks of drinking lots of water during labor is the need to empty your bladder often. Sitting on the toilet is a great way to encourage dilation as our bodies are already used to relaxing there. 

Your care provider may recommend IV fluids during labor in order to avoid dehydration as well. 

Many women extol the benefits of laboring or giving birth in water. Ask your care provider how she can support making labor easier for you...using water!