Whether you’re a first time mom or not, thinking about labor can be overwhelming–and maybe even a little scary. But at St.Vincent Women’s Hospital like to take a fresh approach to labor. And so we’re going to do everything we can to prepare you for what to expect from labor, and we’re going to make sure you have access to a variety natural ways of easing labor–especially for those moms looking for alternatives to receiving an epidural.
We start by encouraging all of our expecting parents to participate in childbirth education classes. These classes teach–and practice–breathing and relaxation methods, best labor positions and pushing, and they provide you with the tools you’ll need to make the best decisions about your care needs when the big day comes–including how to be supportive partner during the labor for those attending the delivery.
Classes are offered in a traditional setting or as an e-learning or online class complimented by a one-time, live session with a childbirth educator.
Then when the day arrives, we make sure all of our moms have access to the alternative, natural options to aid in the labor process that we offer through St.Vincent Women’s Hospital: aromatherapy, birthing balls and tubs.
Aromatherapy is clinically documented to help a mother during labor, and at St.Vincent Women’s Hospital we keep six essential oils in each room: peppermint, bergamot, lavender, tea tree, mandarin and ginger.
Each essential oil has its own therapeutic effect whether it’s to promote relaxation or ease a headache, nausea or vomiting—and all bedside nurses are trained to administer these oils through inhalation. Some nurses have pursued further education and are able to topically apply these oils through massaging parts of the body such as the hands or the feet.
Birthing balls are available up until receiving an optional epidural and can be used in bed, on the floor or in the shower as long as the mother is able to use her legs.
Rocking or swaying on the ball helps the mom’s body naturally position the baby by aligning with pelvis—and is especially useful if the mom is experiencing significant pain in her lower back.
We’ve been using tubs for about two years at St.Vincent Women’s Hospital and find that the tubs are best used in active or early transitional labor. The water promotes both physical and emotional relaxation, and often moms will dilate and efface more quickly.
Of course, you’ll want to talk about your expectations and desires for labor with your doctor ahead of time. And if you haven’t decided on one yet, let us help find the right doctor for you.