Recently, we were asked to take a look at POP: 50 Amazing Secrets to a Successful Labor & Delivery or C-section, by Pamela Peery. We happily obliged, because who doesn't love a good secret?

And, we thought it would be fun to do our own, NaturallyBorn take on this theme. Our mamas are so prolific and generous with their advice that we thought we'd challenge our mamas as follows:

What is the ONE piece of advice, or the juiciest "secret" you could share, about childbirth?

Tell us below in the comments for a chance to win a copy of POP! Even if you are not pregnant now, it makes a great gift for an expecting mom in your life.

I'll even kick things off. See the first comment associated with this post. :-)

Here's a bit more about the book itself...

sarah Clark


How We Calculate Due Dates

The general assumption now is that a woman should have a baby by 40 weeks gestation. This is based on a decades old assumption that is not necessarily based in fact but rather tradition. The method of calculating due dates most commonly used is known as Naegele's Rule and you can read more about it here.

  • If you read the description you will find that: There are some imperfections in it that make it more of a rough estimate than an exact calculator
  • Recent studies have shown that the average gestation is closer to 41 weeks and one day for first time mothers rather than 40 weeks.

What is the big deal about being post dates?

Officially you are not actually overdue until you go past 42 weeks! Yes- read that again- you are not overdue until you go past 42 weeks. Yet currently you will have a hard time finding a care provider that will "let" (I hate that term) you go past 41 weeks. So now, instead of 40 weeks being considered an average, give or a take a few weeks, you pretty much are expected to deliver by 41 weeks or induction is on the horizon.

Here is some information on the risks and benefits of a pitocin induction.

What is going on here? Truthfully there are some risks to going overdue, they are however statistically small for most women. In fact, one article I found stated that:

NaturallyBorn Editor

Right now, all over the world, tens-of-thousands of women are giving birth. Laboring in their own homes, in community birthing facilities (birthing homes & birth centers), and in hospitals, the vast majority of mothers, outside the US, give birth without the use of drugs and with minimal medical technology. They walk around, eat & drink, and actively push their babies out: sitting up, squatting, on their hands & knees, even standing! They remain safe, giving birth to healthy babies.

Caught in the hands of midwives and given immediately to their mothers, babies suckle at the breast and gaze at the faces of their parents, rarely being separated. Having assisted throughout the labor & birth experience, the mothers’ partners share in the joy and work of birthing, often surrounded by other supportive family members and friends.

In the United States, however, birth has become a medical event, separating families from their homes and loved ones. The medical model of obstetric care involves many interventionary procedures and the routine use of technologies, even though they have been proven to cause more problems than they prevent.“Just-in-Case obstetrics has become the modern way of managing birth in U.S. hospitals. The legal ramifications of “not” using such methods, should a complication or problem occur, are too great to risk, in the minds of most OB/Gyn’s today. In the last 80 years, the natural, normal function of birth, in our culture, has been taken out of the home and out of the family’s life experience. More often than not, birth is seen by mainstream American society as an emergency (watch an episode of “Private Practice”,“Trauma” or “Deliver Me”).

The pain and discomfort of labor and birth is considered unacceptable by most medical professionals, having been trained to relieve pain, whenever possible. Women are told not to be “martyrs”... that they should not have to “endure” labor without drugs, as if birth were an excruciatingly, painful event. Many women insist on pain relief, most often through the use of epidurals, “as soon as possible” upon entering the hospital, often before hard, active labor has even commenced. The use of epidural anesthesia is at a record high today.

Women share their birth experiences with other women much like men tell war stories. Using phrases like, “It was the most terrible pain I’ve ever had.” or “It was the worst experience of my life.” or “I don’t ever want to do that again.” When was the last time you heard a women talk about her birth as a “lovely” or “a wonderful, powerfully emotional experience”? It doesn’t happen much.

NaturallyBorn Editor

There was an interesting study done a short time ago confirming a commonly held belief in the childbirth field. This study concluded that the cervix and vocal fold tissue behave similarly when tested.

Many women express a fear of being noisy at birth. I believe it is a byproduct of our culture. Women, as of a few years ago, were taught to be seen and not heard - this belief is still prevalent in some subcultures of Americana. And, more recently, women are 'supposed to be' poised, confident, and in control. Regardless if you are of the 'seen and not heard' camp or the 'poised, confident, and in control' group, there is little room for noisy birthing there.

One of the simplest 'tricks' in my bag is to simply make noise. Women who seem to be doing so well with labor, then suddenly blurt out that they can't go on, they need some help, and they need an epidural - those women I immediately encourage to make some NOISE.

For decades, professionals such as Ina May Gaskin, Robert Bradley, Barbara Harper, and Maria Iorillo have all said the same thing: when a woman's mouth and throat is loose - so is her bottom. And now we have proof of this: when the throat is open, this opening is reflected in the throat of the uterus, the cervix.

Part of this is being completely uninhibited. When women feels safe and secure enough to use whatever means necessary to birth a baby, without fear of seeming silly or embarrassed, they are more apt to use vocal noises - and this release of tension, as a byproduct, allows any tension in their bottoms to release.

Consider the very real phenomena of performance anxiety: some people feel it when trying to use the bathroom in public areas, some feel it when singing... when we feel private, safe, and uninhibited, we are able to open our mouths and bottoms to achieve a goal.

When anxiety sets in, the body reacts by tightening. Fear or anxiety, even the feeling of needing to perform a certain way, creating tension, releases adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone). Adrenaline constricts tissue in the body (think: 'ready to spring into action') and does not allow for softening and relaxing. Imagine when you were really frightened or upset, your vocal register raises, sometimes breaking, sometimes coming out in screeches. These 'upper registers' require your vocal cords to be tight, as your body is when confronted or upset and anxious.

Now, not ANY noise is good noise - it has to be a certain type of noise. It doesn't matter if it is loud or quiet, but it does matter what form it takes. Positive noise includes:

sarah reinhart

Transition in laborTransition.  The movement from one position, stage, state, to another.  Applied to labor, it's the oft talked about time that leaves some women fearful and unsure.   

Have you heard of this stage of labor?  Does it make you shudder?  Should it?

What's the big deal about transition, you may wonder.  How will you mamas-to-be know it's upon you?  

First, before we listen to any scary accounts, before we rile ourselves up, before our eyes get too big with panic--let's define it. Let's learn exactly what it is.  From my own experience, education is great for dispelling myths and reducing fear.  Less fear equals less tension which in the end equals less pain.  And who doesn't want less pain?  A more comfortable labor--yes please!      

Transition is the last part of active labor – when your cervix dilates from 8 to a full 10 centimeters – and marks the shift to the second stage of labor.  During this stage babies will often descend further into their mothers' pelvises.  For these reasons some women feel this time to be the most intense period in their labors.  Understandably.