Creating Your Birth Cave
Doulas are especially gifted at transforming ordinary places into relaxing and restful retreats. Our Postpartum Doulas work their magic day-in and day-out by creating "chill zones" to boost oxytocin and encourage bonding between new parents & their babies.
But creating a relaxing and peaceful space is a bit more of a challenge for labor, especially for those birthing in a hospital. Challenging, yes... but not impossible! Today, our Birth Doulas are sharing their tips for creating your own birth cave no matter if you're birthing at a hospital, at home or a birth center.
One of my favorite things about going to births is busting out the Christmas lights. Yep, you read that right. I keep a string of Christmas lights in my birth bag. Nurses ooh and aww and rave about what a great idea it is. Hospitals aren't the best at offering solutions for dim lights. Usually it's a trial & error experiment of what lights to turn off or on, but with your own string of Christmas lights you can create soft, peaceful lighting with ease. Not only will the dim lights help you relax and stay in the "zone", the effect on the hospital staff is always a positive one. I mean, who doesn't love Christmas lights?!
Music is a source of comfort and strength for many and has the ability to transport us. According to Dr. Jacques Mortiz via a Huffington Post article on labor playlists “Music strongly influences our central nervous system’s limbic system which manages our memories, emotions, and how we deal with fear and pain." He adds "that a good playlist can distract mothers in labor from their pain and fear and help drown out sometimes 'disconcerting' hospital noises." A mix of soft instrumental with no lyrics, and motivating energetic songs is a good start!
The goal of this birth cave is to help make you feel more at home. Who wears a backless hospital gown at home? No one I know! The hospital gowns have definitely improved over the years, but nothing beats the comfort of your own clothes. It's best to have soft clothes that still allow for freedom of movement and give the hospital staff access to your belly and your arms. Skirts and tank tops are a favorite for most of our clients. Even if you later decide that a hospital gown is a better choice, it's always nice to have options.
Birth is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. This is why a lot of childbirth education classes recommend affirmations and addressing fears during pregnancy. Printing out birth affirmations, inspirational quotes, or photos that create joy are a few ways to help keep your mind in the game. Tape these up around your hospital room to focus on when you need a motivational boost. Go a step further and read the affirmations or quotes out loud to remind yourself of your strength and ability to birth your baby.
These are just a few simple ways to enhance your birthing environment and lessen the sterile-feeling of the hospital setting. Ask your doula if she has any other suggestions on what to pack to create a cozy, positive birth cave.