10 Must Know Facts About Birth from a Doula

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Image via Mindi Stavish

I have had the amazing experience of giving birth three times. Each birth was very different and incredible. No matter how much I prepared for birth, I always walked away with new information.

As a birth photographer, I continue to learn about birth with each one I attend. I asked doula Shannon Moyer Szemenyei of Sweet Stella's to share must-know facts about birth.



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Image via Mindi Stavish

Just because you feel like you need to poop doesn't mean that you will actually poop. Often, the pressure sensation we feel is the baby moving down through the pelvis and engaging in the birth canal. It also signals that your baby's arrival is pretty imminent, so make sure you tell your birth team that you feel the urge to poop so they can check on what's going on.

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Image via Mindy Stavish

There may come a time during active labor when you say you can't do it anymore. It happens to even the most super of supermoms, and usually, it means that you're hitting a transition phase. I promise you, you can do it!

{ MORE: 5 Great Things About Taking Baby on Vacation }

Image via Mindi Stavish

It's great to have a plan and to have mapped out what options mean the most to you, but it's also important to go with the flow and stay in the moment. Changing your plan, liking a comfort measure you didn't think you would, or wanting to try something that isn't on your plan is perfectly OK.

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Image via Mindi Stavish

A medicated birth is still a birth, as is a c-section. Birth is birth. And how you birth doesn't make you any less or greater of a mom.

{ MORE: You Won’t Believe What This Group Is Saying About C-Section Moms }


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Image via Mindi Stavish

Your partner may not know how to react to seeing you in pain. It's difficult for them to see the woman that they love going through such an emotional and physically exhausting thing. If they seem to be a little out of sorts or quiet, it's just because they're processing what is happening. They may need a moment or two to step back, collect their thoughts, and be present for you.

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Image via Mindi Stavish

What works for that friend of a friend on that pregnancy board you were reading at 3 a.m. won't necessarily work for you. Each body, pregnancy, and baby are different. Take it one step at a time and listen to your body. Trust your instincts!

{ MORE: Study Shows Midwives Bring Many Benefits to Safer Birth Outcomes }

Image via Flickr/ Vanilla and lace

Pain is temporary. The discomfort that you feel during a contraction is often short lived, and there is reprieve between contractions. And, yes, it is possible to get some rest and zen out into a little cat nap between them!

Image via Flickr/ Vanilla and lace

Fueling for labor is crucial. Try to stay hydrated with ginger ale, water, ice, and popsicles, and if you can grab a quick meal of protein and carbs on your way to the hospital (or while you're waiting for your midwife at home), awesome! You can't run a marathon on an empty stomach, so why would you birth that way?

Image via Flickr/ MammaLoves

When your water breaks, it might not be like in the movies. We see these images of the mom's water breaking in this huge gush of fluid and no mention of what happens afterward. That may happen, but it may not. It could be a slow trickle that just keeps coming


Often, your water will be leaking right up until baby is born, so don't be surprised if you feel like you're peeing your pants the entire time.

Image via Flickr/ Amarillo Professional Photographer

While birth and labor may not make sense, and you may have moments when you feel defeated or confused, overwhelmed and emotional, the moment that your baby is born and you hear that cry, feel them on your chest, and look in their eyes, it all makes sense.

Colors are brighter, sounds are sweeter. Your place and their place make sense, and they fit together seamlessly.

{ MORE: 4 Tips for Cutting Your Newborn's Fingernails }

What are some things that you have learned about birth? Tell us in the comments.

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10 Must Know Facts About Birth from a Doula

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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1 comment

  1. Sara says:

    Contractions aren’t always in your stomach. I thought they were. All of my kids contractions have been in my back


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