As I started talking with her and her partner in our initial consult, I explained the fear, tension, pain cycle, and how we can actually decrease pain in labor by breaking that cycle. I shared with Heather and her partner how I like to join my clients in their home if possible before going to the hospital so she could let early labor blossom in the comfort of her own nest. I described how birth is a lot like getting a cork out of a bottle--you and baby both have to wiggle back and forth, so moving during the contractions can be a helpful coping technique. It was like a lightbulb went off in Heather's head as she realized how different things could be this time around. They hired me on the spot, and we began to prepare for the birth three months later.
When the day rolled around, Heather contacted me in the evening and let me know that contractions were 8 to 13 minutes apart. I suggested she get in a warm bath and see if contractions continued (a good way to tell if this is labor day or if it will peter out). They continued, so I headed out and arrived at their home at 9 p.m. to see her sitting on the edge of her bed with contractions coming much closer together. She looked at me with fear and disappointment in her eyes and said, "I'm just falling right back into the same tension habits! It's going to be the same as last time!"
"Oh no it's not," I encouraged her, "we just need to help you find your rhythm." I jumped right in, coaching her to let every muscle relax into the next contraction. That made it feel more manageable, as did standing, leaning into the wall and swaying her hips. She remarked on the noticeable difference.
Breathing through a contraction on the way to the car...
We were able to establish a good coping rhythm by laboring at home first, so once at Mercy Regional Medical Center, we fell right back into that rhythm. Checking in at 8 cm. dilated was perfect for staying in the zone. My client was oblivious to the monitors; she was totally focused on staying relaxed, and connected with her baby. You can see dad doing the hip counter pressure here that helped relieve intensity. And notice mom's relaxed hand here compared to last time when she gripped the rail with clenched jaw.