Second Stage Labor
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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

Second Stage Labor

A proud Bradley Method® dad and instructor holds his son after a 45-hour laborOur class last night was themed around second stage labor.  Simply stated, the whole point of labor is BIRTH.  You want to have and hold your baby!
     We spent some time sharing about general preparedness for labor.  Did our couples have any concerns?  Was there anything that still needed doing before baby arrives?  Are there any things that they still want to learn before they face their labor? Do you think we asked these questions to being nosy – not necessarily…
     The progress of normal, uncomplicated labor hinges on three factors:  the mother’s physical, mental and emotional state.  Our goal was to start to open the door for our couples to think about what kinds of things might hamper or hinder their labor.  After all, although it is entirely euphoric, who really wants to work longer than they absolutely have to?  After waiting nine months in anticipation for our child, why wait any longer?
     In our classes, we teach “normal”, as in a labor that progresses without situations where medically necessary interventions are indicated.  We practice for a normal, uncomplicated labor.  We want to make sure mom progresses as efficiently as her and baby’s bodies are meant to be working together. Since each labor is unique to the mother/child pair, we are talking very generally.  The length of labor, the positions that will feel good during the pushing phase can all vary per mom/per pregnancy.
So having said that, here are some key questions to ask.
What are things to remember that will help you during labor?
     MOMS:  The work you will be doing is productive – after all the discomfort and effort is done, you WILL be holding your baby!  We also work a lot on real-time practice to remind mom that she can handle just about anything for 60 seconds, and that her body will give her a rest between the surges.  The more deeply a mom can relax, the better her body will work through the course of her labor.            
     COACHES:  We ask coaches to know what kind of things does mom find relaxing.  Is it a type of music, a poem, a picture? Is it something else entirely? How does she like to be touched?  Does she have any “hands-off” zones?  Where or how does she feel the most secure and how can you replicate that at your birth place?
     COUPLES:  We also encourage our couples to think about all their birth options and plan their birth.  Once they complete that task, we encourage them to know their birth plan inside and out carry extra copies with them.  Ideally, they work with their care team in preparing it so that the main care provider can sign off on the choices mom and dad have indicated on the plan.  Parents are more likely to have their birth plan followed if the medical team knows the doctor is fully invested in the couples’ choices.
     We try to equip parents with the tools they need to be communication experts.  Once they are at their birth place, knowing what you want so you can invite every person who walks in the room to help you achieve your goals is more likely to get your care team to support you.  For hospital births: without the nurses “buy-in” you may find yourself working against your assigned team-mates.  Remember that every one is there with mom’s and baby’s best interest in mind, and although you may not agree on the path to get there, if you ask nicely, they will at least give it a good try before shutting down your choices.  If everything goes well, maybe you will find you helped create another advocate for natural birth.
What are things that will help you be a better coach?
     The answer here is simple and difficult when the focus is on mom:  take care of yourself.  Make sure you are following the same guidelines we set for our moms:  Eat, drink and rest as necessary.  Additionally, coaches need to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  Bruss always recommends that coaches bring two pairs of shoes since you are on your feet – coaching is not a spectator sport!!  Show up clean and bring your toiletry bag so you can stay clean.  Labor and birth can be wonderful goopy, gooey affairs, but you probably won’t feel good about yourself if you have to smell goopy and gooey without any chance of cleaning up occasionally. 
     The other thing we ask coaches to think about is their back-up team.  We ask them to make sure you have the resources you need to help jog your memory, or invest in a doula, and again, ideally, they have both the notes and the doula to help mom birth baby.  A doula can be a your Bradley teacher, a paid assistant that helps “Coach the coach”, or the couple may invite family members to be dad’s extra set of hands.
What do you want to remember to do during your labor?
     EVERYTHING they learned in class.  Just kidding.
     The idea we emphasize over and over again is Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.  If all a couple’s decisions hinge around ensuring that outcome, you would be can hard-pressed to consider any decision a bad decision.  (Sometimes we have bad judgment when we’re tired or under the influence, so rest and coherency are must-have during labor.)
     Again, we know from our experience as students that it is impossible to remember everything we talk about in class. 

My mom’s wish list would read like this:
     1.  Believe in yourself, your baby and your body – you and baby will find a rhythm and barring any medical complications, you can birth your baby without any interventions.
     2.  Get lots of rest – all the things that you think are important pale in comparison to your need for sleep.  A well-rested mind and body can be the difference between a natural labor and one laced with varying degrees of intervention.
     3.  If you have ANY “emotional baggage” deal with it.  It can range from not wanting to poop during delivery, to not being sure if you trust your birth place, to not being sure you are ready to be a mom, and anything and everything else in between.  If you are having any doubts, even if they seem trite to you, or if you think they sound silly; talk to someone you trust.  If you don’t deal with them or get answers, your body can potentially slow down or change the course of your labor.  Ask yourself, “Is not dealing with it more painful than the anticipated pain or recovery from a medical intervention that becomes necessary?” 

If I were going to make a wish list for things I would want a Coach to attend to before they got to the hospital, these would be it:
    1.  Memorize your 6-point Coach’s checklist for every contraction – be able to do it in your sleep!  As listed in The Bradley Method® Student Workbook, page 37, your role during a contraction is:
     -       Check her position
     -       Check her relaxation
     -       Rub her back
     -       Guide her breathing
     -       Time contractions
     -       Talk to her
     2.  From all the questions we teach you, come up with your own “informed consent” question list – some favorites are, “What do you expect to gain from doing what you propose?  What are some other possible options to what you are proposing?  Could what you are seeing, could it be normal?  How much time do we have to make a decision?”
     3.  Believe in your heart of hearts that you are the “something” she needs and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there for her.  You loved her enough to want to spend your time with her, you loved her enough to make a baby, now show her that you mean it.  It will be hard watching the person you love the most in the world become extremely uncomfortable  - that’s why it’s called “labor”.  She has to work for many reasons, such as: to make the hormones to bond with the baby and make milk, to listen to her body and your baby to find the best way out, it’s a path of self-discovery – all these things and more that don’t come easily.  We can also assure you that this work you do together is some of the most meaningful time you will spend together in your relationship – give it all you have, and then dig deeper down and find more ways to support her.
     As a couple, you will never regret taking the time to plan, prepare and strive for the birth you want for your child.  Additionally, you will always have the sense of accomplishment that, no matter what your birth outcome is, you faced it together.  The birth-day of your child is also the day your family was born.  The birth of a family – it can be a very special day for that fact alone.

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

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