Café Recap: 4th Annual Girlfriend's Guide to Birth

Welcome to a new series here on the blog, the Café Recap. After each Café Monday, we will post a summary of the information discussed on the panel. We hope to better include and inform those who are unable to attend the Café, and to serve as a resource for those who were present but can't quite remember all the details (hello, cute and distracting little babies, we're looking at you!) Please note that the article below is not professional advice. The Motherhood Collective does not claim responsibility or ownership of any of the ideas found below. Please consult with your Care Provider regarding any changes to lifestyle or habits. At The Motherhood Collective we encourage you to take a salad bar approach regarding this and all material. Take what you like. Leave the rest.

Its that time of year again! The 4th Annual Girlfriends' Guide to Birth, will have you laughing until there are tears in your eyes. Sometimes birth books just don't cover everything. If you are pregnant, come and join us for a candid morning filled with stories about birth from mamas you know. If you're not pregnant, join us and share something you wish someone would have told you. Whatever season you are in, the Annual Girlfriends Guide is sure to make you smile.

Our wonderful panelists: Lora Cartrett, Amanda Boywer, Erin Baird, Alisha Meador and our moderator, Lauren Barnes.

We see the movies; gushes of water, rushing to the hospital, followed by screams of pain and then a baby bursting forth. So what’s it really.... like? Lora's was just like the movies. Some didn't break until pushing.

Erin has had every behavior during labor- singing, screaming, bossing others around. Amanda, who is normally a quiet person, was a screamer and just didn't care who could hear or what they thought. With her second she nearly gave birth in the car, and the experience was so quick she found her self still in shock afterwords.

Husbands, wonderful as they are, are often less helpful than we'd hope during labor. Lora's big, burly husband turned into a crying mess, while Alisha's husband (a therapist) was almost too calm. Many husbands offer "advice" that is more or less helpful. A husband telling you how to push, or reminding you that women have been doing this for thousands of years, is not what a laboring woman wants to hear. Some husbands surprise us by being amazingly helpful and involved; moaning along with their wives, massaging, and offering support when needed.

Pushing positions: Stirrups are the "traditional" pushing position. For some this is helpful, when grabbing your legs is an impossible acrobatic feat. Some find that squatting or hand and knees is a more comfortable position for others.

Did you try to speed up your labor? Alisha found the shower to be soothing, as well as chanting and a glass of wine to keep her comfortable. Lora's blood pressure kept her in the bed for her first delivery, but with her second she moved and swayed to stay calm. A "peanut" ball is a comfort to some mothers who need to be in bed due to an epidural or other factors.

Pain coping mechanisms employed by our panelists include screaming into a blanket, negotiating with yourself internally, counting through contractions, chanting and listening to the sound of your own voice, and listening to a friend talk aimlessly. Amanda says that being mentally prepared and calm before getting to the hospital helps her.

What does pushing feel like? Our panelists said, "It's kind of like the biggest poop of your life." "You can't push with your legs, you have to push like a poop." "Something's happening, I'm not doing this. It's like the best/worst feeling ever. A painful feel good." "Pushing naturally felt good...with an epidural it's like psychic pushing." "Like reverse vomiting." "Something terrible is happening." Others don't feel the need to push, and feel that it is a much less involuntary process.

Poop during labor is something that many women are terrified about, but by show of hands actually pooping during labor is not especially traumatic. Some are not even aware of the fact, since there is so much going on during labor. Nurses are often excited by a labor poop, as it is generally caused by the head coming through the canal and is a sign of progress.

Did you know where to push? Or did you need direction from your labor team?Alisha and Amanda felt that they knew how to push when they were ready. Trying to push too early, though, does not feel natural. The placenta delivery also requires pushing sometimes. Others hardly notice the placenta delivery, while some find it to be painful to their already-sore bodies.

Our panelists would like to remind soon-to-be new mothers that your first labor does not have to be indicative of your second labor. If things didn't go as planned the first time, the next time it may! Use your previous knowledge and use each birth as a learning experience. It doesn't matter how you became a mom, even though sometimes external pressures make us feel inadequate. Motherhood is more than your birthing experience, and going from pregnancy to motherhood is an amazing accomplishment. Prepare as much as you can, but remember that when it comes down to it birth is out of your control.

We are so thankful to our great panelists and our audience for their participation. This was such a fun cafe, full of hilarious labor jokes and stories!