labor and delivery

Most common labor mistakes #2


“Do these 3 things and you won’t feel a thing!” “Don’t do this and you’ll be done in exactly X hours!”

Most of us women would be happy to try almost anything that promised to make birth easier or at least shorten the process. But as nature has it, every one of us is as unique as the children we grow in our bodies and bring to earth with our unconditional love and courage.

Is there a right way and wrong way to birth? If only it was that clear…

For this reason, we decided that instead of the word ‘mistakes’, the words ‘misjudgements’ or ‘miscalculations’ are more compassionate. Let’s face it, labor is no joke.

Early labor may be bearable enough for some to continue with light daily activities. We discussed why this is recommended, along with other suggestions in the article on Common Mistakes: Early Labor. But at some point, the intensity of those sensations changes.

You might be in Active labor when... your contractions feel stronger and harder to bear.

So, unlike before, the distractions may not be working as well anymore. You are finding that you have to stop what you’re doing each time. These are major cues that your body and baby are getting really serious about this birth thing.

How exciting!

Now what, dear Doula?

That’s your cue!

Start timing the contractions again. (Wondering about WHEN, WHY and HOW to time contractions?)

What you are looking for is length and duration.
Longer, Closer, Stronger



Assuming you had told your OB/ Midwife when you went into labor and depending on whether you chose to have your Doula join you in early labor, let your birthing team know about this new development.

The onset of Active labor is when a woman feels the strong need to do something about the contractions. This in a natural urge designed by our bodies to help baby along. 

So let’s talk about some tempting misjudgements that might go against the natural progression of labor.





Doing nothing

This is a go-to whenever we are are in pain or discomfort. Sitting still in a way that feels more comfortable or the good old fashioned bed-rest.  Even though this offers a sense of relief, it could contribute to a longer labor and increase back pain due to pressure on the spine.

If for some reason the mother chooses to or has to stay in bed, it is encouraged to change positions or to lay side to side. Even the smallest change for just a few contractions is helpful.

Moving in rhythm with contractions and changing positions also makes it easier for the baby to navigate the pelvis.

Gravity is a laboring woman’s best friend.
(After a Doula, that is.)

If you would rather hang out in your room for privacy or other reasons, a Doula has got a mind full of positions to ease discomfort and aid the progression. We also bring a ‘bag of tricks’ full of labor equipment you can use.

If you feel up to it, grab your partner or a family member and take a slow walk down the hall. Feel free to pace back and forth in the room. If you are having a home birth, stroll around your house. You are likely to find that you have to stop at each contraction. Having someone by your side is priceless as you can use them for physical support. You are going to appreciate all the encouragement you can get. Enjoy the company of someone willing to walk the walk with you.


Doing Everything

Ah, you can’t win can you? Yes you can, I promise!

There is the complete opposite staying in one place: trying every single position and comfort measure you learned because that is what you are ‘supposed to do’.

It’s great to change positions and techniques during labor, but how do you know when to do what?

The amazing thing about our bodies is that, if you are focused enough, you can pick up on the natural cues on what to do.

Try positions and techniques in response to cues from your body; not just "try everything." Once you find a good position or technique, continue through several contractions until you feel your body needs a change.

One of the most humbling lessons as a Doula is to learn to ‘lead by following’. This is one way we honor a woman’s innate wisdom. We may make suggestions and help along the way, but above all we trust that women are capable. Forcing changes during labor can be distracting and can pull mental and physical energy away.

*Wait, I thought distractions were good for labor?

Stick around dear mom, there is a time for everything.



We established that distractions are great in Early labor. Focusing too much on bodily sensations too soon can cause unnecessary stress and get the mother tired way before she needs all her energy. Active labor is a whole different ball game though...

Active labor feels more intense physically and so it takes a lot of mental energy to go through. At this point, too many distractions can cause the mother to lose her focus.

Having someone beside you to talk to during labor can be calming and reassuring. The down side of this is that, the mother might feel obliged to respond and be an active part of conversation in the room.

It is not easy to be there for someone and give them space at the same time.
This is a balancing act that a good Doula practices.

There is a lot of benefit in being mentally present at the labor. It is easy to miss out on your body’s cues or become irritated or anxious based on what is happening in your environment. This can trigger stress hormones, which do not interact well with birth hormones, leading to a stalled or longer labor.

Relaxation at this stage of labor is a priority. Calming or inspiring music is one way to set the mood for the mother.

If the TV is on in the birthing room, let it be by the mother’s choice and that she has the say on what should be on. Preferably, something pleasant that she does not have to pay too much attention to or to follow.

Sometimes visitors or other staff in the room get carried away talking about topics not relevant to the mother. It is ok to give a polite reminder to keep such conversations out of the room.

As Doulas, we respect the 'birthing space' as a mother’s own NEST.
We allow the mother to set the tone and the pace.


So, imagine you've made it this far but there is still a way to go... *They say the next stage of labor, Transition, is the hardest and that it is when women are most likely to ask for an epidural. Next time we discuss how true (or false) this is.



Labor Day: weekend VS Labor Day: baby

Summertimes last big event is upon us. Labor day weekend is here and that means one of two things: Party! – or Boooo!

Goodbye sunshine, hello wind with leaves in it... means different things to different people. Adios vacation fun vs long-time-no-see-you Mr. homework…

Ah, but I bet you didn’t think about how similar Labor Day Weekend might be to the other Labor day. We’ll call it Labor Day: Baby.

Well, let’s explore.

Planning a Labor Day: weekend vs planning for Labor Day: baby

1. Is it gonna be Party! or Boooo...? (or even Boo! as in, Halloween is around the corner and who knows what else?)

As a mom myself, and a Doula, I say always go with Party! Could be life without babies is ending for you, and your family or you’re gonna have that one extra tush to clean now. But how about celebrate the arrival of a precious new mini human into your life by actually celebrating on their literal birthday? You, mom, deserve to celebrate yourself for 9 months worth of strength and patience and the incredible milestone of birthing your baby. Dads know babies are to be celebrated but, hey dads, mom’s deserve to be celebrated too!

2. Location, location, location.

Are you going to have a Labor day weekend party at your house, go to a friend’s house or forget houses and getaway? This choice determines a lot of things, a big one being, your budget.

As for Labor Day: baby, the options affect a lot of things! Hospital? Birthing Center? Home? How’s your budget? What’s more comfortable for you? Where do you feel safest? What matters most to you? Luckily for mom’s, babies give us 9 months to figure out where they are going to make their grand entrance. If this decision is making you feel clueless, Doula’s are a great resource on picking a birthing location and provider. At the end of the day, it’s your choice, we’re happy to stand by your side with information as you map it.

3. Invites:

How many people are invited to this party anyway? Are you a full house person or are you more private? Just like having a house party is different than going on a getaway, your birthing location of choice determines the number of faces you will encounter on your big day. Great news is that, you can decide some details of this in your birth plan. Even greater news: DOULAS DO NOT CHANGE SHIFTS! Nurses and Doctors at hospitals and Birthing Centers my change shifts, heck, even family in the room may need a breather. This means that no matter how much the faces change through your day, there is always one constant on your team.

4. Food and beverages:

Let’s admit it, when I say Labor Day weekend, you say food! Labor Day....

How about Labor Day: baby? This is one of the most commonly asked questions about labor. Can I eat? A lot of factors go into this. Your medical provider/ midwife will give the best answer. Most unmedicated birth professional actually encourage the laboring woman to snack and drink to keep up her energy and stay hydrated. Hey, it called labor for a reason. Hospitals have different policies about this and other things factor in, for example your chances of having a C-section. Eating too close to surgery poses a risk of aspiration. If allowed, Doulas always bring easy to consume snacks along for mom and other people in the room because, well, the munchies happen. What a great thing to bring up as you plan your birthing day though! Hey, what about food?

5. Entertainment and decorations:

Why red, white and blue of course! Labor Day: weekend is covered.

Labor Day: baby however is a lot more nuanced than that. Home births and Birthing Center allow a lot more flexibility on you decorating your room to feel special to you. Candles (never real ones), personal bedding and pillows, music (dance party anyone? No? How about relaxation music to set the mood) aromatherapy, birth affirmation cards, you name it. It is your space. Nothing to encourage you to keep going at your labor than your baby’s little first outfit hanging in sight.

A fellow Doula of mine once said to a client, 'we’ll set it up like a spa day in there.' I say a really intense spa day but, yes please! Also, did you know that you do not have to labor in a hospital gown in most hospitals? So go ahead, pack that pretty comfy gown from home.

And why not? It’s your baby’s birthday and your birthing day.

Happy Labor Day weekend to you all!

And to all the mom’s getting ready for Labor Day: baby, I wish you a Happy Birthing Day!