If you’re wanting a satisfying and empowering birth, but for whatever reason, you can’t get to an independent childbirth education class and you can’t hire and birth and postpartum doula, there are still plenty you can do to prepare for childbirth.
The internet is a treasure-trove of great information with regards to childbirth and parenting – you just need to know where to look. To that end, I’ve compiled my top six FAVOURITE videos to recommend during pregnancy, to help you gain understanding, confidence, and real expectations. This isn’t a ranking, and I’ve included the video length to help you out, but most are pretty short. Also, NONE of these are actual birth videos.
1 The Performance (7 mins 30)
This is an Italian video, with Italian actors, Italian birth statistics and English subtitles. But it’s SO perfect for demonstrating how our current hospital system sabotages women in labour and prevents our perfect orchestration of hormones from doing their best work. Oxytocin is the love hormone – it’s front and centre during sex and also labour. If you wouldn’t be able to have sex in a certain environment, you won’t be able to labour smoothly. Keep that in mind when planning the spaces you’ll labour in, whether that be at home before you go to hospital, as well as once you get there. It’s also a good example of why you should stay at home for as long as you feel comfortable during early labour.
2 The balloon and ping pong ball demo (3 mins 30 seconds)
This one went viral a few years ago, and is a great visual for what happens to your cervix during effacement and dilation. This helps you to understand that labour is more than just the 1-10cm of your cervix. Most women assume internal vaginal exams (VE’s) are just a part of having a baby that they need to submit to. In reality, a hospital or provider that has a policy of doing VE’s every 4 (or any) hours during labour are not practicing evidence-based care. As well as being invasive and uncomfortable, these procedures increase the risk of infection for you and your baby, and don’t actually provide much useful information on the progress of your labour. Your body is doing more than just dilating in labour, and your cervix can be at 9cm and you labour for another four hours, or you can be at 4cm and have your baby in your arms 45 minutes later. An experienced midwife will be able to tell what your cervix is up to just by watching you and your behaviours.
3 The Essence of coping in labour (the first 4 mins 30 seconds)
The video is one of American Childbirth Education/Birth Doula legend Penny Simkin. She’s an author and researcher and has done so much to advance the low intervention childbirth movement over the last 50 years. This is one to watch with your labour support partner/s, as it’s as much for their information as yours. Penny describes the 3 R’s of coping in labour. It’ll be a reassurance for both you and your partner/s that if you’re displaying these three R’s, you’re coping with labour and should be left as undisturbed as possible.
4 90 Second to change the world – TEDx talk (18 minutes 40)
This is the full 18 minutes of allowable time for a TED talk, but I promise it’s worth it. It goes through the simplest and most cost-effective procedure we have available to us today that could improve infant health; optimal (aka delayed) cord clamping.
Now a little explainer. In the 1910’s, as mentioned in the video, immediate cord clamping became a thing. It spread around the world and has been the default procedure at birth in a majority of hospitals in a majority of countries ever since. But why? Because it was thought to prevent or reduce the severity of jaundice. I have heard current, Melbourne based obstetricians advise their clients that they don’t practice Optimal Cord Clamping (OCC) for this very reason, and studies do show that there is a slight increase in jaundice rates in babies receiving OCC. BUT, in our modern medical world, and in full term and otherwise healthy babies, jaundice is a minor, easily treated inconvenience which lasts for a few days or so. The benefits of OCC last the individual a lifetime. When enough babies are born and OCC is practices, the benefits to society are almost unquantifiable.
5 Why it’s so hard to take a shower with a newborn (5 minutes 45)
This one is a bit of fun but will also help you build realistic expectations of the first few weeks with a newborn in the house. You will struggle to get time to take a shower. You will be very tired – potentially exhausted. Even if you have an angel of a baby, it just comes with the territory. It might give you a hint as to why hiring a Postpartum Doula can be so beneficial for your own care as well as your baby’s.
6 The period of P.U.R.P.L.E crying (9 minutes)
Some babies just cry. A lot. This video explains that this can be a normal part of infant development. Frustrating and stressful, but normal. To accompany this video, I strongly recommend you get familiar with the concept called The Fourth Trimester. These articles are very helpful in explaining this season of life, and helping you establish realistic expectations. The top one in particular is a must-read.
9 Strategies for an empowered 4th trimester – MUST READ
Do you have any videos you tell all your pregnant friends about? I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list.
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
Rachel Angelone is the founder of Your Birth Your Baby and is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and Postpartum Doula based in Melbourne. Rachel offers independent childbirth and early parenting education to pregnant families before baby arrives. Once your baby is Earth-side, she offers practical and emotional in-home support as you adjust to your new life as parents. She is also a loving wife and mother to two young girls.