Doulas and Childbirth

Creating A Labor Environment - Taste and Smell

Food - You - Although the opportunities may be quite different at a birthing center or in homebirth, many hospitals still don't permit a laboring woman to eat once she is admitted. Most will limit you to ice chips, water and clear liquids. That may actually be all you want during that time, especially if you have eaten before arrival. Keeping well hydrated is important to keep your labor moving and regulate your body temperature. But check in advance. You may also be allowed life savers, lollipops, popsicles, or even a Gatorade-type drink. Your doula can see to storing anything that needs refrigeration or a freezer. Something that provides you with nourishment, even sugar, can help replenish your strength when you need to.

Dry Mouth - Ask your doula to keep you supplied with ice chips or water, or to give you a cold wet cloth for your face or mouth. Consider adding lip balm to your packing list for the hospital.

Vomiting - Everyone doesn't experience vomiting in labor, but it could happen to anyone. Of course it's an unpleasant thing to have to do, but it's absolutely normal, and in some instances it actually helps your progress when your diaphragm muscles press the baby's head onto the cervix! Your doula will help you with the unpleasantness, and then you can freshen your mouth with a toothbrush and mouthwash.

Pillow - If this is important to you, bring a bed pillow (or a robe, etc.) from home that smells like your familiar laundry detergent or fabric softener. Or consider bringing with you a favorite cologne to have nearby.

Aromatherapy - If you use aromatherapy in your everyday life, bring with you cotton balls scented with a few drops of the essential oil that you feel will most benefit you. Your doula can place them around the room or drop them into a cup of hot water to disperse the scent. Lavender is most often suggested but certainly decide this for yourself. It is recommended that you don't bring the bottle with you, as the oil is very concentrated and would cause a major problem if spilled. Remember, though, that your senses will be greatly heightened, and you may choose not to confuse them with strong scents. It's probably best to bring the aroma with you in a form that can easily be removed if it begins to trouble you, such as a lotion you can place on your wrist but can also wash off if necessary.

Food - Others - Other people in the room should absolutely consider the laboring mother's situation. You may be very hungry or may not want to smell food at all. If your partner/guest needs to eat, it should be done outside the room, away from you. This is another situation where your doula stays with you and the others can leave to have a bite to eat.

Childbirth smells - During your labor and delivery you may detect the smell of blood or feces or vomit. Be assured that these are all a normal, common part of labor, There is no need to be embarrassed, and the staff will take care of things quickly, even before you realize it.

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©Karen N. Kilson