Our Best Labor Support Tips for Dads and Partners

The Curtis Method has a private facebook group for couples who have taken our classes, where they can ask questions, get support, read articles, share birth stories, and learn from one another. It’s a phenomenal group and it’s one of the greatest resources our expecting moms have access to as they prepare for birth.

We recently asked the following question to our group members, and we got so many fantastic responses that we just had to create a blog post for everyone to enjoy! We teach a full Daddy/Partner Doula Training as part of our Curtis Method classes, so that each couple is fully prepared to participate in a positive birth experience.

Partners, are you ready for real world advice about how to be a rockstar birth companion?

What is the most helpful thing your partner did to support you in labor? Counter pressure? Affirmations? Breathing? Massage? Just staying present and holding space? Let’s get some ideas going!

I thought my husband would ignore me the whole labor because he refused to go to classes and he was totally uninterested in my pregnancy. My good friend was pregnant at the same time as me and her hubby was so sweet with her. He would go on ice cream runs and rub her feet. I was slightly jealous. I actually remember being 9 months pregnant and bursting into tears because his brother was rubbing his,non pregnant, wife’s feet. I watched and thought my husband just didn’t care about me or my hard pregnancy. Then I made him go to the Curtis Method and it was seriously the biggest difference. He was suddenly on board with everything. He would talk about how much he liked dancing and being close to me and the baby. She literally taught him how to be there for me. I don’t think he knew how to be there until Lauralyn showed him. He was so great during the labor and I’m so glad he was the only one there for me. I think it made him feel like I trusted him to be there for me. I was also so happy when my baby finally came, because it was just our little family. Me, him, and our new baby. It brought us so much closer together. It actually bothered me that my extended family came so quickly. I just wanted him and I to bond with our baby. Anyways it’s different for everybody, but he may just not understand how to be there for you. Make him be. It’s a new experience for both of you.

Counter pressure with our doula was obviously amazing and being there for me to just dance with and hold me up through expansions! He was going through every step with me, every single expansion and I loved it!! I needed it!

My husband was amazing at helping me get comfortable, diffusing oils. I had every nurse mention how amazing my room smelled. He was amazing at getting the music meditations set up when I was in need of focus.

All I wanted during my whole 10 hour active labour was to hug and dance with my hubby! He was a trooper. And he used the shoulder anchor when I would get out of control and massage my jaw when I would tense up. He let me stare into his right pupil, which apparently was freaking him out, but that turned out to be my focus point so he just let me do it! Lol! Then he did counter pressure in my knees and hips while I was pushing. BEST DADDY DOULA EVER!

Listening to me. Talking with me. I was very chatty during labor with my second. With my first, I labored in bed with him breathing deeply next to me. He was present. I guess I’m relatively weird because I just want him there and to do what I say.

Being my voice at the hospital when I couldn’t for myself.He would stand up for my preferences and desires because he knew them, even though I wasn’t in a space to talk for myself.

Oh my goodness. My hubby is the best. He always knows how to make me laugh and he kept it up all the way through transition with our second. I was happy and relaxed and we even sang along to a cute little country song that came on while I was breathing through the contractions in the tub. The midwives were all amazed by it. It was the coolest thing and he made me feel so loved. It was the perfect birth experience. Each time I started to get a little overwhelmed he did or said something he knew I would think was funny or he would give me a kiss or do light touch massage to instantly melt me back into relaxation. You taught him that in your class, Lauralyn!

My husband knew our birth plan and preferences so well. He would speak up for me about things he knew I wanted because I was so in the zone and didn’t want to talk to anyone. On particularly difficult expansions, I would tap him on the arm which was my signal to him that I wanted him to do the shoulder anchor. He was essentially my doula since I didn’t hire one and he was absolutely essential to a successful birth I think.

Holding space, being quiet and patient, putting a straw in my mouth and saying “drink” or making sure I took a bite of food every so often to keep up my energy, telling me how awesome I am and how proud he is, soft touch, letting me make decisions and not answering for me. Counter pressure was huge! He was sore afterwards but it made a huge difference in managing back labor.

Holding my hand, slow dancing, staying with me constantly even to use the bathroom, and kissing me (I have the cutest picture of him kissing my lower back while doing counter pressure on my hips). The two big ones for me: counter pressure and positive comments especially chiming in if any hospital staff said something that I might take negatively (i.e. “This is going to burn/hurt.”) He and my doula would chime in right away that I could do it, that I was strong, etc. Their reassuring words gave me something positive to focus on.

I’m going to jump in with a different perspective! My hubby is so uncomfortable with birth and hospitals– the best thing he did for me (and it took 2 births for us to figure this out) was to take care of himself, identify what he wanted to do to feel involved and useful and then hire the doula I dreamed of so I could be supported in every moment when he needed to take care of HIM. Find what works for you as a couple!! You can both have a magical time and feel supported if you can make space in your expectations for your experience to fit YOUR couple dynamic.

It helped that he knew when to just leave me alone!! Everyone tried all sorts of techniques but I just did better on my own.

When I would start to spin out in my head or feel out of control I would look at Ben and his eyes were so proud and so sure of what I was doing that I could instantly get back to my calm space and keep going. Everything about him was strong, proud, sure and unwavering. That’s what helped me…is having someone who knew I could do it, as much if not more so than myself. I had to commit or make a new plan…and I remember feeling the panic rise…but then I looked up and it all made sense again…ben didn’t even say words…I just knew.

For me, it is him telling me I can do this, telling me I’m doing amazing, telling me to trust myself, to “ride it out”, and at the point when I thought I was a crazy woman for going unmedicated, “this is what you want” which grounded me right away. reminding me to keep my noises low was HUGE at the end, getting me water, and doing counter pressure. After this last baby he says he wished he’d been working out his forearms because he was TIRED and sore after doing so much counter pressure with me saying “harder! harder!”

Being able to make decisions and hove my voice when I am not able to. He spoke up when he knew I wanted something but couldn’t think of the words.

Counter pressure, telling the annoying nurse to shut up, telling me to ignore the temp doc who was telling one of the nurses behind me that if I didn’t give birth in 5 minutes he would have to do a C-section, rubbing my back, giving me gatorade when I asked for it.

My husband brought the laptop and played Nacho Libre to make me laugh. I loved that, it really helped me feel relaxed. Haha. He also did counter pressure and reminded me to relax when I got too tense. When I had the feeling that I wasn’t sure if I could keep going, he was there to encourage and uplift. He held my hand. He told me multiple times that I was doing a great job. He also put music on while I was at the end stages of labor to kick my energy up. I’m so glad he was as supportive as he was!

During labor I just want him there but to mostly just let me do my thing. When it comes to the point I get to about 9cm through pushing (I’m typically hands and knees in tub) I want him right in front of me being a focus and encouraging me and just having a hand on me. It makes all the difference.

Mine made a playlist of songs including ones I like and he doesn’t and paced them according to the different stages of labor.

Positive affirmations from your class, massages and getting me to relax. He got me so relaxed I fell asleep!
Sara T.

Sweet words, eye contact and his strength to pull against as I pushed.

Saying my affirmations as if he were me. Also talking to the baby when the baby was stressed.

Just supporting me 100% in all of my decisions. Knowing beforehand that I’ve had his support had made me feel like I’m the one in control, that I have someone behind me supporting me no matter what. Giving me a voice in a time where I might not always have one. So I can focus on what I’m doing and not worry if someone might try to do something against my wishes.

Holding space 100%. He had been trying to load up the car and I got so pissed. I made him stay with me so we could smooch. Our doula took care of all the fine details like loading the car, giving my mom directions, etc. worth every single penny.

Honestly, smiling at me! He just looked so happy, and present, and excited, and it gave me energy and courage. I knew he was with me 100%.

Being quiet and present with me. Reminding me why I was doing it this way and reminding me I am completely capable. And counter pressure … basically a 9 hour massage.

Definitely staying present and holding space!! I would get anxious when I could not see or touch him. Dani

For me it was him being my focal point while breathing, and just being close by, I was doing fine on my own, but when I needed an extra boost of support I knew he was close by. Knowing that he was there for me as soon as I needed him to hold me, be my support when I couldn’t stand in my own, him telling me how well I was doing and that he was proud of me.

He kept encouraging me to keep going and that I could do it. I was strong enough. He kept me strong. He was also great to be the in between person between me and Dr.s/nurses. He understands my huffs and grunts and can understand when I’m talking under my breath, unlike they can. He was also calm. That helped loads!!

He held me and let me lean on him for a really long time. We greeted our little one early, and were not quite as prepared for our homebirth as we would have liked. He was such a great partner that I had no idea there was a ton of business around me. He took care of things so I could just labor and love. I will say though, taking on the responsibility of all that so I could labor without a care left him with some birth trauma of his own. The idea I’d like to offer birth partners is to NEVER be afraid to ask for help. Caring for the mother doesn’t mean being the one to care for everything. delegate some details in whatever capacity to alleviate your stress so you can be there for hers.

Two game changers: 1. Saying the word “Sloooow” 2. Counter pressure on the knees. I was totally able to ride the waves and both hubs and the midwife thought I was sleeping between the waves. I wasn’t, but that’s how relaxed I was.

Taking your class! My husband still talks about to his friends. Being present was the biggest and most helpful for me!

Absolutely counter pressure! He was like my epidural with that pressure on my lower back and hips. Totally saved me and helped through every contraction after I was in transition. That and just telling me I could do it. Reminding me I was strong.

Counter Pressure and Affirmations with my spouse were heaven sent. Belly lifts (which we learned in class) were also amazing.

He composed music for me! It was beautiful.

The Shoulder Anchor and whispering in my ear about how strong I was etc.

I labored standing because the pressure of sitting even on the ball hurt so he was literally my support! I would lean on his chest/shoulder and rock/breathe through my contractions! He was quietly supportive occasionally telling me how amazing I was and that I could/was doing it! It was just what I needed!
Heather S.

We had a long labor (36 hours)…I stayed dilated at a 6 for 14 hours and my husband just kept telling me “She’s almost here, not much longer now” helped a ton for like 5 hours. Once we got to pushing, I’ll never forget with each push he’d say, “All the air in the room.” It felt like we were the only ones there and helped me focus and relax. Pushing only felt like 30 minutes but was about 1.5 hours. He also would make the letter T on my forehead during contractions which symbolized to me more of a cross for religious beliefs and that made me feel safe and protected (he picked this up from our doula).

Breathing with me was way helpful and counter pressure. He did it every contraction for 22 hours I don’t know how I would have survived without it.

He helped with counter pressure, massage, and just always by my side. He never left my side because he wanted to stay with me, even when he was tired. With our first, I had been in labor for over 24 hours and 4 1/2 was active labor and pushing. I was so exhausted and so was he. I was on the bed by this point snoozing in between contractions and he was right there laying beside me, holding my hand the whole time and would help brace me during each contraction.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your class. Giving birth is the most vulnerable and intimate experiences. My husband being 110% present was the biggest reason I was able to do an unmedicated birth because when I was weak-he was strong and prepared with affirmations and love. Another thing that helped me is that he encouraged me to dig deep to my most primal and intuitive instincts that I was afraid to do. I wanted to birth silently. I was afraid of what the nurses and what my husband might think of me. I have a lot of shame from past experiences and listening to how people viewed birth. I was so afraid but when I was birthing and I hit a wall of panic and started to hyperventilate-my husband encouraged me make low sounds (what we learned in your class) he reminded me that if I relaxed my mouth, throat etc. that it would help and he even did it with me. Oh how it changed my feelings, sensations, and birthing.

When it comes down to it, what matters most is what *you* want and need to feel comfortable and safe and relaxed in your birth environment. Not every couple has a relationship dynamic which is conducive to lots of intimate contact and attention — and that’s OK! Nobody should feel pressured to have certain people present and engaged in their birth experience if it that dynamic causes stress or distraction. And that means not just random friends/relatives, but sometimes even the father himself! There are many, varied ways to support a birthing mother, and not all of them involve close, constant contact. You should feel safe expressing what you want (and don’t want) from those you are inviting to participate in your birth experience. The last thing you want during such a time is to feel resentful or disappointed, so maybe it’s best to allow people the roles that are best suited for them. There are *no rules* about who should be present or what they should be doing. –Israel Curtis

How To Speed Up Early Labor

“I literally thought I would never go into labor on my own. It felt like I was going to be pregnant forever! I had weeks of pre-labor waves that would come and go and stop and start. It gave me a lot of time to practice my relaxation and breathing skills, which I was actually so grateful for. When my active labor began, I already knew exactly how to breathe through my expansions. Oh… and I wasn’t pregnant forever! Babies do come out!”
— Corinne

What is Practice Labor?

This is the longest phase of labor, and can last many days or weeks. Expansions are inconsistent, sporadic and mild, generally lasting well under a minute in length. There is no need to “do” anything about it or try to hurry things along. Your body is wise and it knows exactly what it’s doing! If you have any concerns about what’s going on, discuss them with your care provider. Get plenty of rest, eat nutritiously, and stay hydrated. If expansions are continuous but inconsistent and unproductive, try The Belly Lift.

  • Cervix begins to soften and thin (dilation & effacement).
  • Cervix may or may not dilate anywhere from 0–3 cm.
  • Cervix may or may not begin to change position from posterior to anterior.
  • Uterus begins to contract intermittently to “warm-up” for the big day.
  • Cortisol (a stress hormone) levels rise towards the end of pregnancy, which helps prepare the baby’s lungs for life outside the womb, while also playing a role in beginning the hormonal process of labor.
  • As a result of this surge of cortisol, you may begin to feel some emotional stress. You may feel irritable, or impatient for labor to begin. You may feel like you’ve been pregnant forever and you can’t stand it anymore.
  • Some women feel suddenly nervous or unprepared, even if they’ve been practicing faithfully.
  • You may or may not experience frustration with your partner, difficulty concentrating at work, etc. All of these feelings are normal, and are nothing to worry about. You’re getting close to going into labor.
  • Allow the feelings to come… and then let them go. Continue to focus on practicing your relaxation skills. Anchor your feelings of frustration or irritation to a positive mental thought such as: My baby knows when to be born, and my body knows how to give birth. My baby will be born at exactly the right time.

Am I in Labor Yet?

A lot of couples worry that they won’t know when the baby is coming; that they’ll go to the hospital too early… or leave home too late. It’s useful to understand the signs of impending labor, so that you know your body is getting ready for the big day. The number one question I get asked as a doula is “How do I know if I’m in labor” and my best answer is always “It’s like being in love: When it’s the real thing, you’ll just know.” Generally speaking, if you’re still wondering, you probably aren’t in active labor yet.

While the following symptoms are signs of progress, they do not mean that you will go into labor within a few hours or days. They are simply a means of saying that your body is getting ready to give birth. You may want to note the date you experienced any of these signs, or you may take a more relaxed approach and not pay much attention, knowing that labor will begin when you and baby are good and ready!

Signs of Labor may include:

  • A sudden increase of energy, stress, impatience, irritability caused by catecholamines
  • The baby engages in the pelvis
  • An upset stomach
  • Loose stools
  • Bloody show (this may be the cervix beginning to open, or from sex or a vaginal exam)
  • Loss of your mucus plug
  • Slight increase in blood pressure
  • Increase in “practice” expansions (commonly called Braxton Hicks contractions)
  • A persistent crampy feeling, like period cramps
  • Expansions that get longer, stronger and closer together, forming a pattern for at least an hour

Some women notice most or all of these signs, but others don’t experience any; either way is perfectly normal. You shouldn’t worry if you aren’t; that just means your body is preparing in a different manner. The signs of labor may also differ from baby to baby, so what you experienced the first time may not happen the second time.

Release of Membranes (Water Breaking)

This is a definitive sign of labor! In about 2-3 out of 10 births, the membranes release before labor begins. However, most of the time the waters do not release until later in labor, often not until after transition, when mama is getting ready to push. When your water breaks it may be just a constant slow trickle, or a sudden gush. You should notify your care provider when your waters release, and in the event of the following circumstances:

  • Fluid is not clear, but green or brownish
  • Fever
  • If you can see or feel the umbilical cord in the vagina (Get into the knee-chest position and call 911 if this occurs)
  • Do not place anything inside the vagina after waters have released. Avoid intercourse and vaginal exams

Practice Labor or True Labor?

It can be hard to tell if you are experiencing practice labor or “True” labor. Here are some characteristics of each:

Practice LABOR

  • Expansions do not increase in length or intensity over a period of 1-2 hours.
  • Expansions are erratic, coming at random intervals and lasting for varying lengths of time.
  • You can walk and talk, or continue your normal activities during expansions.
  • Expansions diminish or disappear if you change your activity level or position.
  • May be caused by dehydration: Expansions diminish if you hydrate yourself and relax.

True Labor

  • Expansions are getting longer, stronger and closer together.
  • Expansions become rhythmic, forming a predictable pattern which grows.
  • You feel the need to focus and breathe through your expansions, and no longer want to walk or talk through them.
  • Expansions remain consistent regardless of activity or position.
  • Expansions intensify when you hydrate and relax.

Practice labor is a vital part of the birth process! Don’t try to force it into becoming active labor. Your body knows best. Your cervix is softening, your hormones are changing, and your baby is rotating into the best position for birth. Here are some strategies that may help you make the best of your practice labor. It’s a great way to manage early labor, as well. If you’re not sure if it’s real labor or warm-up labor, try the following sequence:

  1. Drink some water, red raspberry leaf tea or coconut water. Dehydration can cause uterine cramping. Just drink to thirst; you don’t need to over-hydrate.
  2. Empty your bladder.
  3. Take a warm, relaxing bath for about 30 minutes. A bit of Epsom Salt can help relax tense muscles. You should be comfortably warm, and not so hot that you begin to sweat a lot.
  4. Drink some more clear fluids, and empty your bladder again.
  5. Lay down on your left side (which optimizes blood flow to your uterus and baby).
  6. Turn on your affirmations or a relaxation track.
  7. Allow yourself to fall asleep and nap as long as you like.

If it’s practice labor, this sequence will probably relax your muscles enough to cause it to slow down or stop. If it’s real labor, it will relax your muscles enough to help labor progress! Either way, you’ve just gotten into a state of deep relaxation, rested your birthing muscles, and replenished your fluids and electrolytes, and that’s always good for a pregnant and birthing mama.

Early Labor

“Almost as soon as I got up I started to have this crampy feeling that I’d not yet experienced. It would start, then go away, then start again. This happened a number of times, at consistent intervals. I tried to distract myself with a movie but it wasn’t happening. The expansions (our word for contractions) were steady so I decided to time them. They were 3-4 minutes apart lasting about 30-45 seconds. I walked, bounced on my birthing ball, did some yoga stretches until I decided to wake my husband. ‘Hey baby…I think I’m in labor. — what, REALLY?’ So we go on doing the things I had procrastinated, such as: packing a hospital bag, packing a diaper bag, packing the daddy doula kit, installing the car seat… You know, just the important stuff. A little after 8 AM I contacted my Doula. We were supposed to have our last pre-natal Doula visit that evening. I guess our dress rehearsal was going to be the real thing.”  — Holly

Early labor may stop and start again over a period of several hours, up to a day or two. A very long early labor is nothing to worry about medically, however, it can be tempting to try to hurry things along. Lots of rest and quiet time is best. When your expansions begin they will be very mild and won’t last very long. You may not even know what’s going on at first, and that’s ok. Your body will tell you when you’re in active labor, and when you need to get to your birth location. Don’t time your expansions in early labor. Just get in tune with your body, relax and breathe, and listen to your relaxation recordings and music. Drink clear fluids, eat lightly, take a warm bath, and then take a nap. Don’t announce early labor to family or friends, or even post about it on social media. Go about your business and do activities that create calm, peaceful, positive feelings for you. This is the best approach to helping early labor progress most quickly and effectively into active labor. The more you worry about and focus on what’s going on, the more you’ll chase it away. The more you relax and focus on other things, the more quickly this time will pass.

  • Cervix further softens and thins. You may dilate anywhere from 0 – 5 or 6 cm.
  • Expansions get longer, stronger and closer together, but are mild enough to talk and walk through.
  • An increase in prostaglandins may cause a warm, heavy feeling low in your uterus.
  • Most women feel excited and happy in early labor. You may feel a surge of adrenaline and energy.
  • You’ll probably feel energetic and positive. Your expansions are easy to work through.
  • If you feel any nervousness, concentrate on taking deep, slow breaths and you’ll find that it settles quickly.

How to help early labor progress more quickly:

You’ve been practicing for weeks for this moment! You’ll know exactly what to do if you breathe, relax your muscles, and follow your instincts.

  • Don’t time expansions or make a big deal of early labor: a watched pot never boils. Nothing inhibits oxytocin and slows labor more than being “on the clock”.
  • If you can still carry on a conversation during your expansions, it’s still early labor. Early labor is shy, and it shuts down easily when you feel observed or pressured.
  • Take a break from social media. Social media is, by nature, a form of social exposure and pressure, and social pressure can greatly slow or even stop labor.
  • Mute your phone. Don’t accept calls or texts for a while. Constant queries of “have you had that baby yet?” will keep you from having that baby.
  • When you begin to have expansions, do your best to ignore them as long as you possibly can. Go about your daily activities, but stay close to home and get lots of rest.
  • Dim the lights, or find a nice dark space to relax. Dim lighting increases your sensitivity to the birth hormones.
  • Have some private time. Your birthing hormones will kick in more effectively if you go within and allow it to happen on its own. Keep to yourself for a few hours and have “quiet time” with your unborn baby.
  • When you do have expansions, try the Belly Lift (from unit 4) to help increase pressure on the cervix and speed dilation.

How do I choose the right birth care provider?

Five steps to hiring the right care provider for your birth

1. Decide how and where you want to give birth

If you don’t know, start doing some serious research. You have lots of options: Natural or medicated? Hospital or home? Water or dry land? OB or midwife? Do you want to be actively involved in all decisions and choices or will you allow your care provider to take control? If you’ve had a previous cesarean, are you interested in a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)? Will you have a doula? What interventions / medications / procedures will you accept or refuse? A good, comprehensive childbirth education course will help you navigate these decisions confidently, without imposing a dogmatic bias about what type of birth is best. The best birth is the one that is safe, healthy and joyful for you and your baby. Don’t necessarily allow yourself to be swayed by what your best friend or your mom or your college roommate thinks is right.

Here is a simple meditation and journaling exercise you can practice with your partner or a friend to help you decide what you want. Sit down in a quiet space, turn off all technology and close your eyes. Have your partner read the following questions to you, giving you lots of time to think through each one. If you like, you can have a journal and pen on hand to record your responses:

  • Take a few deep breaths and begin to visualize yourself giving birth, safely and joyfully. What does that look like and feel like to you? Your joyful birth story is completely unique to you.
  • Imagine how you would like to feel on your birthing day, emotionally and physically.
  • What is the lighting like in the room?
  • Is there music playing, or some other sounds in the background?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere in the room? Calm? Celebratory? Social? Intimate?
  • What level of routine medical intervention do you prefer? Some women feel safer with more intervention, others prefer less. (If you don’t know, find a comprehensive childbirth education class which will help you explore all of your birth options.)
  • Who is with you? How involved is your partner? Is there another support person or doula there?
  • What is the energy and personality of your ideal care provider? Are they upbeat or mellow? Calming or energizing? Quiet or assertive?

2. Get recommendations from local Doulas, and talk to other moms in your area who had the type of birth you are hoping for

If you are planning an unmedicated VBAC, find moms who have had unmedicated VBACs. If you know you want an epidural, find moms who had great epidural births. I have found Facebook birth-related groups to be most helpful in this task. When bringing up this topic with friends, you can say something like “I am looking for a care provider who will support my ________ [natural/hospital/home/birth center/VBAC/surgical/medicated/water] birth. Any suggestions?”

Doulas are really your secret weapon when it comes to finding the right maternity care provider. An experienced doula has seen many different care providers in action, and they can tell you who’s great and who isn’t. Look up local doulas and pick their brains. Most of them will be happy to talk to you and point you in the right direction on your search. Even better? Hire a doula as your own personal birth-guide.

You wouldn’t ascend Everest without a Sherpa who knows the way and has been to the summit many times: Doulas are Birth Sherpas! Experienced Doulas have worked with care providers to support a great variety of birth scenarios, and they are really good at facilitating cooperation and communication between mom and her provider.

3. Create a birth plan

Now that you know what kind of birth you want, you can begin putting those preferences down on paper. Again, a good childbirth class will be a great resource for you. Our class session #5 is Birth Choices night, and will give you all the tools you need to begin creating your birth plan. Read books, ask questions, talk to your doula and listen to your intuition. Two books I recommend that couples read as they create their birth plans:

  • Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering — Sarah J. Buckley, MD
  • The Birth Partner — Penny Simpkin

Two downloadable resources that will help make this whole process much easier:

4. Interview the recommended care providers

Once you’ve got your list of recommendations, contact each care provider and set up an interview. Just to be clear: YOU are interviewing THEM. You are the CEO and your job is to hire the employee you like best. Bring your birth preferences sheet with you to the interview, and go through it point by point. If the care provider is a good fit, this process will be so smooth and easy. You’re gut will tell you if it’s a good fit or a big mistake. Throughout the interview, you should feel listened to, understood and supported. If you feel like you have to defend or “fight for” your choices during the interview, can you imagine how you’ll feel on your birthing day? You, as CEO of this birth, have the right to find an employee who will provide you with the level of service and performance you require. Keep interviewing until you find that employee.

5. Know that you can switch care providers at any time, even late in your pregnancy.

You can change your mind and “fire” your care provider if you feel you need to. The latest I’ve ever heard of a mom firing her doctor was (believe it or not) at six centimeters dilation! She was tired of how she was being treated during labor, so she signed herself out of the hospital, contacted a local midwife, drove to a birth center, and had a victorious VBAC in the water, no tearing, not trauma, no complications. AND her baby weighed 11 and a half pounds…

It’s best to choose your ideal care provider much earlier than that, of course. It’s incredibly beneficial for an expecting mom to have a relationship of trust with her doctor or midwife that she can call upon whenever she needs support or reassurance. So don’t put this off, get it done! Do your childbirth classes, read your books, ask your questions, hire your doula, get some recommendations, and start your search for the best provider for your birth journey.

How to induce labor naturally: Learn the ROPEs

There are many hormones that govern the process of labor and birth. In this article we are going to focus on four of the main hormones:

Relaxin, Oxytocin, Prostaglandins, and Endorphins.

We want to encourage mom’s body to produce these hormones in order to help labor begin naturally, making birth as easy and safe as possible.


  • During pregnancy, relaxin is released from the placenta, the membranes which surround the baby, and the lining of the uterus.
  • Softens the ligaments and cartilages of the pelvis so that it can expand and “open up” during labor, facilitating the descent of the baby into the birth path.
  • Helps the cervix become looser and softer so that it can thin and open.
  • Smooths and softens vaginal tissues and perineum, making them more flexible and “stretchy.”
  • Makes the baby’s whole body more flexible and “squishy”, and allows the head to mold.

Maximizing relaxin

  • Relaxin levels increase during the last few weeks of pregnancy, making your pelvis more flexible, and the baby’s head and body squishier and easier to birth.
  • Practicing prenatal yoga and gentle stretches can help maximize the effects of relaxin in helping the pelvic area open and expand for birth.
  • Try squatting. Make sure your care provider approves this exercise.
  • In men, relaxin is secreted from the prostate gland and can be detected in the semen. Intercourse during pregnancy can be helpful in softening the cervix, due to relaxin and prostaglandins in the semen.


  • Stimulates uterine contractions during orgasm and childbirth.
  • Large amounts of oxytocin are released when the cervix is fully opened, triggering the fetal ejection reflex.
  • The Love Hormone: initiates feelings of bonding and closeness in both mom and baby.
  • Works in synergy with your body’s endorphins, creating a state of euphoria.
  • Suppresses the production of stress hormones, which are responsible for the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle.
  • Contracts the uterus strongly after birth in order to deliver the placenta and stop bleeding.
  • During breastfeeding, produces the “Let-Down” reflex.

Maximizing oxytocin

  • When the baby’s brain is finished developing, it signals the mother’s body to release oxytocin.
  • Lovemaking: skin-to-skin contact, kissing, intercourse, and particularly, orgasm.
  • Light Touch Massage, and any other form of massage, or pleasurable physical contact.
  • Nipple Stimulation! This can be done during lovemaking or light touch massage.
  • Prenatal bonding exercises, visualizations and guided meditation.
  • Fear release: Stress hormones can slow the production of oxytocin.
  • Dark Chocolate is known to produce an increase in oxytocin.
  • Keep the lights in your birthing room dim! Melatonin is produced in dim lighting, and melatonin helps make your body more sensitive and responsive to oxytocin.


  • Ripens the cervix and causes it to begin the process of thinning and opening.
  • Stimulates uterine contractions.

Maximizing prostaglandins

  • Semen is a rich source of prostaglandins. Allow the semen to stay in the vagina after intercourse for as long as possible.
  • Fresh pineapple and spicy food may help stimulate prostaglandin release by irritating the digestive tract slightly, triggering prostaglandin release.
  • Walking helps to create pressure on the cervix, which may further increase prostaglandin production and help thin the cervix.


  • Your body’s own natural morphine: much stronger and more effective than any other pain killer.
  • In large amounts, it creates an amnesiac state where you become unaware of the outside world or the passage of time.

Encouraging endorphins

  • Sex. (Are you noticing a pattern here?) Orgasm produces a huge rush of endorphins.
  • Light touch massage: Getting “the chills” means that the endorphins are at work.
  • Laughter and humor.
  • Exercise: all muscle contractions and stretching of the muscles or tissues of the body create endorphins.
  • Hypnosis, guided meditation, warm baths.
  • Acupuncture and acupressure release endorphins and may relax you enough so that labor can kick in on its own.