5 Tips To Improve Your Labor and Delivery
Hi friends! We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows where someone is screaming in agony, sweating, and miserable while laboring and getting ready to deliver their new baby. Did you know it doesn’t always have to be like this? While labor and delivery will not be a totally pain-free experience, there are so many ways to make it better. This week we’ll give you five tips to make your labor and delivery process easier.
#1 Perform Perineal Massage Perineal massage is recommended to help prevent perineal trauma (mainly by episiotomies) and to help reduce the amount of perineal pain you have postpartum. This massage is done 1-2 times per week starting at 35 weeks gestation. It can be very helpful to use lubricants with perineal massage, but not all lubricants are equal. Some of our favorites include coconut oil and Good Clean Love. This short YouTube video will show you how to perform a perineal massage.
Join our webinar on July 27th, 2023 at 8pm EST How Can I Prevent Severe Birth Tears? With Jeanice Mitchell, PT, MPT, WCS, BCB-PMD. Hurry and sign up now! This course is free for July only (regular price $49).
You can also check out our free handout on perineal massage during delivery. Download the PDF below.
#2 Train Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
One of the difficulties with pelvic floor muscle training is being unable to isolate and control those muscles. Many times, individuals cannot isolate and squeeze the pelvic floor muscles and instead use other muscles like the inner thighs, abdominals, and glutes. We want to train these muscles to work WITH other muscles, but we also want to have good coordination and a good mind-body connection to use these muscles properly.
Studies have shown that performing PFMT during first time pregnancies has been shown to shorten the first and second stages of labor (from the start of contractions to pushing). (Du, 2015) Why does this happen? PFMT can help you become more aware of your pelvic floor muscles and help you to relax AND strengthen them.
Tip: If you’re having trouble isolating or contracting the pelvic floor muscles, see a pelvic floor therapist! Ask your provider for a referral to one near you, or find one at www.mypfm.com/find-a-pt.
#3 Keep Moving While You Labor The first stage of labor is when you’re contractions begin and your cervix is still dilating, but you aren’t ready to push yet. It’s important to stay moving as much as possible during this first stage. Restricting movement can be linked to more pain and anxiety during labor (Calik, 2018).
Movement restrictions in the first stage of labor, along with some other medical interventions, have been shown to increase the need for more for medical intervention in the pushing phase (Akyildiz, 2018). However, this does not mean that you can never sit down or lay down to take a break while laboring, just try not to spend prolonged periods of time stationary.
#4 Stay Upright While Laboring and While Delivering (Berta, 2019)
There are many good reasons to stay in an upright position (sitting up, standing, kneeling, etc). When the laboring mom is in an upright position, this gives her many benefits including:
Better blood supply to the baby (from decreased risk of compressing mom’s aorta)
Helps the uterus contract more strongly and efficiently
Helps baby get into a better position
#5 Pick a Position That Allows the Sacrum to Be Flexible (Berta, 2019)
The sacrum is the bone on the backside of our pelvis. If it is able to freely move, it can open the pelvic outlet (the opening in the bones that the baby needs to pass through. A larger pelvic outlet means more space for baby and decreases the risk of issues like shoulder dystocia while also decreasing the average time of pushing. Positions that allow the sacrum to move can include kneeling, on all fours, sitting on a birth seat, and laying on the side.
Labor and delivery can be an overwhelming time, but information is power! myPFM has many resources to help. You can find many free resources at www.mypfm.com as well as several courses:
To learn more about your pelvic floor muscles, check out these great resources:
Watch our YouTube playlist on Pregnancy and Your Pelvic Floor
Watch Netflix for Your Pelvic Floor at Pelvic Flicks
Learn more about your pelvic floor on our Instagram
Visit our Amazon store for our favorite pelvic health products
Sign up for our email newsletter
For providers, join our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!
A Partnership: Baby’s Role in Birth with Chantal Traub, CD (DONA), CCCE, LCCE
Postpartum Posture: Treatment and Prevention with Dr. Leah Fuller, PT, DPT
Do Severe OASIS Tears Increase Prolapse Risk? with Jeanice Mitchell, PT, MPT, WCS, BCB-PMD
The Big Event—Empowered Pushing with Chantal Traub, CD (DONA), CCCE, LCCE
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT
Akyildiz D, Coban A, Uslu FG, Taspinar A. Effects of obstetric interventions during labor on birth process and newborn health. Florence Nighingale J Nurse. 2021;29(1):9-21.
Berta M et al. Effect of maternal birth positions on duration of second stage of labor: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Pregnanncy and Childbirth. 2019;19(1):466.
Calik KY, Karabulutlu O, Yavuz C. First do no harm—interventions during labor and maternal satisfaction: a descriptive cross-sectional study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2018;18(1):415
Du Y, Xu L, Ding L, Wang Y, Wang Z. The effect of antenatal pelvic floor muscle training on labor and delivery outcomes: a systematic review and meta-anaylsis. Int Urogynecol J 26, 1415–1427 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-015-2654-4