What Really Works for Labor? blog post

I keep trying to condense the most useful ideas into bite-size chunks for you.  Since this topic is the heart of childbirth education and labor support, I think about this a lot.  Below, there’s a little blog post.  I also made a one-page guide that covers what I consider to be the most essential things about pregnancy, birth, and parenting.  And my next film / book / website will combine the best research with the voices of moms — I hope it will be super-useful.  You can participate here!

Little blog post about labor:

If you do the little breathing and melting thing (see The Most Useful Thing Ever?) throughout your pregnancy, I promise that your pregnancy will be more fun. And maybe when you actually go into labor your body will say, “Oh, I know about this, I think I’ll melt,” in which case your shoulders won’t steal energy from your uterus, you won’t be so scared, and the pain and hard work of labor will be more tolerable or even welcome.

But in labor, just breathing and melting might not be adequate at all. While focusing on your breath does have a physiological relaxation effect, you’ll probably need several of these:

LOVE from the people around you

WATER like a shower or bath or even just thinking about that 3/4 of your body that is water and can therefore flow however it needs to

RHYTHM like walking, rocking, chanting, counting, bouncing on a physioball

DANCING which is actually great in labor, with a friend, with happy music

MASSAGE on your lower back, your feet, your head and face, your shoulders — tell them what you want!

WORDS you repeat in your head or out loud: “I’m doing it, I’m doing great,” “My body rocks,” “Yeah!” or “Run for the light, baby!”

LAUGHING at anything that strikes you silly

MEDICINES can help, but please make informed decisions about risks and benefits

I asked the world’s expert on labor, my daughter Jasmine, how she gave birth to an 11-pound baby without drugs. “I don’t know, Mom,” she said. “Oh, come on, you must knowsomething,” I persisted. “I don’t know, I just got into my animal place and did my work.” There you have it, from the mammal’s mouth: go feral, go wild, be as calm as your cat and as strong as a mama ox.

It would be cool if we just laid little eggs. It would be cool if we were like kangaroos, with babies less than an inch long that pop out and crawl up all by themselves into the pocket to nurse and finish growing outside their mamas’ bellies. It would even be cool if we were like nonhuman primates, whose pelvic bones don’t have to support walking upright, so their babies slip out more easily. But we’re still animals, and birth is not something we do with our brilliant minds, it’s something we do with our animal muscles and hormones and funny grunting noises. Roar!

See also


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