Friday, November 29, 2013

The Bradley Method of Natural Chilbirth - Part 4

The Pushing Stage

     A mom to be's hard work is both an emotional and physical roller coaster ride. The mix of pain, excitement and physical labor is bound to test a mommy's endurance. But the thought of finally meeting her little one is what gives her strength.
    I remember working sooo hard during the pushing stage. My driving force was both the desire to see my baby and put an end to the excruciating pain of labor. I knew the contractions were part of my body's natural tendency to help bring the baby out so I did my best to work with them. As a VBAC candidate, I was also under time pressure. My doctor gently reminded me that I will need to get the baby out as soon as I can to avoid any kind of complications or a possible tear on my previous C-section scar, not to mention being given a dose of anesthesia due to the stress (which I was really trying to avoid for Natalie's birth). All of these criteria put together was enough to push me to work hard on my most physically challenging exercise to date. 

    Here are some helpful tips from the Bradley Method book that I was studying which I used as a guide during the Pushing Stage. This first list is for your Coach. These notes were taken from Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon - I just put them in bullet points below, as I did in my note cards to make it easier for my husband to review and remember. My own notes are in italics.

     Things to watch for when she goes into Pushing Position:
  • Be sure she's not clasping her hands together under her legs (that would keep her legs together and restrict the opening)
  • Watch that she is not holding her hands in fists
  • Make sure she is not hunching her shoulders or arching her feet back
  • Every part of her that is not part of the pushing process should be relaxed
  • Make sure she is not puffing up her cheeks and turning red in the face
  • It is better for her to take a deep breath and hold it by closing her throat than by keeping her mouth full of air
  • Her face should be relaxed- a wrinkled brow won't help get the baby out
    Holding her hand or letting her hug your arm will be a big help! And don't forget to keep encouraging her with a relaxed and soothing voice :)

   Remember to establish a good atmosphere and mood. Make sure she hears the gentle enthusiasm, confidence, energy and not fatigue in your voice.

   This next checklist is for the Mom to be. I did my best to remember every single tip and trick here and it really helped me.

     Breathing in the Pushing Stage:

  • Wait for the contraction to begin, then take a deep breath and let it all out without pushing. 
    One of the tips that proved to be helpful to me was pretending as if I were swimming under water so it's easy to grasp the concept of breathing deeply and holding my breath in.

  • Then, take a second deep breath - just fill your chest and abdomen and exhale completely, still without pushing.
  • Take a third deep breath. As you do, lift your legs slowly and gently back to the pushing position.
      The third breath is the one you will hold while you push down because this is the one that should go with the pushing contraction and it is when your uterus is now really hard at work. 

      It's actually quite a matter of timing. Even if in my own experience, I ended up taking only one deep breath instead of two, I found a way to make it work. Just try to gauge how many breaths you will need. You will know it when it's time.

  • You will push as long as you comfortably can. When you can no longer hold your breath, put your head back to open up your throat, exhale completely and take one more deep full breath.
  • Now put your head back down toward your chest and push with this fourth breath as long as you can. Your contraction will now be over. The muscles have stopped to rest and you can too.
      Since this was the first time I gave birth the natural way, this information about pushing and breathing really was all new to me. Even if this guide was really very helpful, I still had to listen well to the coaching of the nurses and my doctor during the pushing stage. It really helped me a lot because there were moments when I would sometimes forget what to do.
      As long as baby is not out, this cycle just repeats itself. The pushing contraction comes in waves so don't worry because you will have some rest time. :)

For the Coach:
      The important thing to remember about the Pushing Stage is NOT to tell her to inhale, exhale, since you cannot know when one breath is done and another is needed, but to ENCOURAGE HER to take the next breath when she is ready.
     If you are a mom to be and giving birth anytime soon, do practice the above tips with your husband or coach (if he is not available during time of birth). It is always best to be prepared and have knowledge about what you are supposed to do especially at this VERY VERY important milestone in your life! :)

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon

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