Freebirth Jenga to play/teach with clients (similar to the game played at the HERBAL in-person trainings). Get a Jenga game, write each of the positives on a block in one color. Write the negatives in a different color. When playing the game with your client you will build the Jenga tower starting with the positives, covering one at a time. Once completed, start with the negatives. Each negative you put on the tower, you will remove one positive block to see how long the physiological birth tower can last. Cover and explain each topic in full, allowing room for discussion and questions.
Topics and conversations that will help clients learn and understand the positives and negatives pertaining to freebirth.
(Positives followed by negatives)
Positive Aspects of Physiological Birth
Empowering Birth and Beyond Birth Services
Consent – having a complete say over what happens at your birth. Nothing occurring without your informed consent. No one else governing or demanding.
Support – having those present or otherwise that support your choice.
Melatonin - allows the body to relax into labor, which is why so many women go into labor at night, when melatonin is at its peak. The benefits of Melatonin can be limited by interventions because melatonin is not typically at peak during the day, when doctors usually schedule inductions, especially considering during an induction you are being consistently monitored, in a bright room, with strangers, it is not exactly relaxing or calming.
Oxytocin - is involved in sex, fertility, contractions and breastfeeding. It makes us feel happy, a natural high and causes connections and bonding to happen with our partner and our baby.
Contractions are caused by oxytocin release. A shift from home to hospital or a disturbance in setting, or stress of any kind can cause a disruption of oxytocin release, stalling labor, because of a release of certain catecholamines such as adrenaline.
Oxytocin can be increased naturally by hugging a partner or support person, holding hands with someone, staying upright, avoiding an epidural, or other drugs, and stimulating the nipples or clitoris (only mama or their partner should do this, to learn more, explore the concept known as Orgasmic Birth.)
Beta-endorphins - are present from conception and are also natural pain killer, when the body is in duress, beta-endorphins are released, this is why, for example, when someone is in danger, they are able to run through patches of thorns to get away, without feeling a thing. Beta-endorphins also suppress the immune system to keep your body from attacking your baby during pregnancy up until complete delivery. High levels of beta-endorphins cause oxytocin to slow release, allowing for labor to be at a bearable pace, which is why contraction consistently is not always a good indicator of early/active labor. Beta-endorphins are one of the causes of the “after birth high.” Studies have found a sharp decrease in endorphins when using an epidural. Low endorphins have been linked to post-partum depression and limited or decreased maternal bonding.
Catecholamines - include noradrenaline, which takes part in the fetal ejection reflex in combination with oxytocin. Fetal ejection reflex is the occurrence of strong muscular contractions at the fundus which push the baby out involuntarily. Having an epidural will cause catecholamines to be virtually non-existent because you are no longer under any type of stress, when you cannot feel the process so FER is very unlikely to occur, causing you to need to push for potentially hours.
Prolactin - increases when labor begins spontaneously, but is present during pregnancy. Prolactin is the main chemical involved in breastmilk production and also has been linked to maternal-baby bonding. It helps to form the mammary glands throughout pregnancy!
SRC 1&2 - Hormonal protein released when baby’s lungs are developed and ready for birth. Releases about 24 hours before labor begins; is the labor initiator.
Respect – being respected in the choices you make in your pregnancy/birth.
Cortisol - the body's primary stress hormone, and it plays a role in many bodily functions. Can shut down labor or cause FER to occur.
Hands off – Having no one touching you unnecessarily during your labor/birth. Having unnecessary touch can impede on the birth process.
Comfort – you feeling comfortable is key. If you feel unsafe, your labor can stall out completely until you are able to retreat to a safe location where you can be at peace and comfortable.
Choices – having a choice in how your labor and birth plays out, is important. The mother being in complete control is crucial to outcome.
Intuition – this will be your greatest navigation system in labor. Nothing will hold the answers like your intuition. You will know before anyone else in the room if something would be unwell. Listen to your intuition, and protect it, always.
Safety – feeling safe is incredibly important to keep labor occurring. If you feel unsafe, your labor can shut down, and refuse to restart until you feel safe and relaxed.
Movement – being able to move about during labor is crucial to get baby down into the pelvis, and engaged. Being confined to a bed is not physiological.
Self Belief – your mentality in your ability to birth hold huge impact on outcome. If you hold doubt, that doubt will likely come out to play on birthing day. Address all self-doubt before birthing day.
Confidence – both the birthing woman, and her entire support team must be confident in her ability to birth. If anyone in the room feels doubtful, or projects doubt, this can cause complication in her labor/birth. Everyone present should be on the same page.
Determination – if home birth is an option, something that you “might” end up doing, but have the hospital in the back of your mind as an option as well, you will likely not birth at home.
Rest - having adequate rest is crucial in labor. Sleep when you can! Instead of counting/monitoring contractions, take a nap. You never know how long your marathon labor might last; it is important to rest as much as possible.
Hydration – staying hydrated in labor is important for a healthy and safe birth. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated throughout all states of labor, and postpartum.
Physiological Birth Process – understanding the physiological birth process is important when choosing unassisted birth. Understanding exactly what is happening in the body helps to stay calm, connected, and in tune with labor as it rolls in.
Delayed Cord Clamping – this allows baby to obtain all of their blood after birth. Baby is only born with 2/3 of their blood. The rest is still inside of the placenta/cord at birth. It is crucial to leave baby attached to the cord until it is white and limp.
Physiological 4th stage – allowing the placenta to expel in its own time can help in hemorrhage prevention. Pulling on the placenta, or forcing removal can result in retainment, which can lead to infection.
Negative Aspects that Impede on Physiological Birth
Fear - any fear or concerns you might have stored in your mind will come out to play in labor. All fears should be addressed prior to labor, no matter how big or small. Fear can most often be replaced with acquired knowledge. Whatever you fear, you likely only need more information on! We can fix that!
Doubt – if you, your partner, or anyone present relay doubt, complication is likely. It is important to feel confident in the days leading up to, and during labor. If you feel any kind of doubt, reach out, let’s address it.
Provider’s Opinion – freebirth is based on following your intuition, following your baby and body’s lead, and Mother led. Asking for provider opinion in labor/ during prenatal care, can be harmful, and open the door to self-doubt. Once we allow a provider's opinion to bring us comfort, or lead us to fear, we are no longer fully relying on our intuition. We have someone else’s opinion that may sway our intuition.
Projection – Others sharing their horror stories or disproval of your choice can be harmful to your mental space. Do not allow those to speak negativity towards you in pregnancy, shut their chatter down immediately to protect your energy and mental space. Be wary who you share your birth plans with, to limit this complication.
AROM – Artificial Rupturing of Membranes; breaking the waters artificially (manually) can present risk of infection, cord prolapse, or knick a blood vessel (you then have 7 minutes to get baby out). There is significant risk that can present when performing AROM. There are instances where it may be beneficial, but for the most part, should be avoided.
Coached Pushing – being told when to push can lead to tearing, complication, or more painful labor. The woman knows when she needs to push, in physiological birth. Her body will tell her when it is time to start bearing down. Sometimes, the body will do it involuntarily.
Domestic Violence – DV in pregnancy and birth space can cause birth complication, as well as mental blockage. If DV is something you struggle with, please reach out knowing that I am a safe place, with resources to help.
Toxic Persons Present – anyone present who is fearful, doubtful, afraid, all knowing, or unsure can be harmful. Anyone with negative energy will impede on the birthing space, and could potentially be a distraction/blockage for the birthing woman. Be wary who you invite into your space.
Outside Advice - receiving outside advice or suggestion in pregnancy/labor can impede on intuition. Not only this, it can cloud your head space and influence choices you make going forward.
Unsupportive Spouse - A spouse is one of the woman’s most sturdy foundations. It is optimal for them to be 100% supportive and on board, without fear. If her strong foundation is weak, fearful, and unsure, what does she have to rely on?
Unaddressed Trauma – past traumas will come out to play during labor if they are not addressed prior. Talk about your trauma, asses what could have gone differently, accept what occurred, and look forward to obtaining better this time. If you need help processing traumas, big or small, please reach out.
Social Media in Labor - social media in labor can be a distraction that disconnects you from your intuition and process. The energy and words shared from those on social media can also impede on your labor.
Negative Energy – those in your space with fear, doubt, worry, concern, anger, or otherwise will radiate energy that is harmful to your birthing space. In labor, you are more so, open and vulnerable to energy. Allowing this to enter your space can impede on your ability to labor. Labor can stall, complication could arise, whatever the energy is radiating can be manifested. If those in your birth space hold negativity, it may be best to ask them to leave.
Environmental Distractions – these distractions can stall labor, making it longer, and more so drawn out. To avoid this, avoid the distractions discussed.
Lack of Knowledge – this is the primary cause of fear. Being uninformed can lead to fear in the vulnerable moments of labor. Being as educated as possible is suggested!
Compelled Invites - inviting family/friends because you feel compelled or required to do so. Having those in your space that you do not genuinely desire to be present can slow your labor. For each additional person present in labor, you should figure on an additional hour of labor.
Timing Contractions – this can cause our mind to retreat to the one size fits all text box standards. Timing can be defeating, or encouraging, mentally.
Hunger – requesting a person to complete a marathon without nourishment, in hunger, is not rational. Woman must be fed, and be nourished in pregnancy/labor to ensure a safe birth.
Exhaustion – you need energy to get through labor. Exhaustion can turn into a true complication that needs medical attention, if not addressed. Maternal exhaustion is a real thing; something that can usually be avoided with ample rest and nourishment. Again, rest when you can!
Misinformation – anyone in the birth space who is misinformed can be hindering. For example: Many believe that a cord around the neck is an emergency. If they see that when only the head is emerged, this can create a fiasco that needs to be emergently diffused.
Being Watched – women labor greatest in intimate privacy, unwatched, with their partner. When they are watched, some feel a need to try and be reserved (please, if you ever feel this with me, tell me to go outside). This can delay your labor, and interrupt your focus. Staring is unnecessary to see what is going on. I will learn more on where you are at in labor from your vocal response, anyway. You having space, and being unwatched is important.
Constant Monitoring – constant monitoring of fetal tone can be a distraction from intuition. Monitoring should occur when concern is had, or confirmation is needed. It should not be routinely monitored in freebirth. This is not something we want to obsess with in labor.
Chatter – others speaking in the birth space. This can impede on the birth by pissing the woman off, simply put. Keep chatter to a minimum. Questions should be asked at appropriate times (after the contraction), and only when absolutely necessary. Her focus is more important.
Updating Others – Letting others know what is going on with your labor can be counterproductive. Telling Aunt Susan that your water broke can be harmful. She may be indoctrinated, believing that after 24 hours baby is at the hands of imminent death – when this is not the case. She could pester, show up, or call authorities if you do not respond with a further update (I’ve seen this). In freebirth, it is usually safest to keep to your immediate birth team.
Stitches – more often than not, stitches cause more future harm than good. Unless the tear is a 3rd or 4th degree, stitches might not be the best option. Manuka honey, sea weed, witch hazel, and rest with legs together, might be a better option. A natural healed tear is usually less painful, and heals more efficiently.
Induction – evicting baby before their lungs have released the SRC proteins can pose risk, to both the mother and baby. Sometimes, in cases of unmanaged preeclampsia or cholestasis, induction might be the safer option. It is important to know that there are home induction methods that can be tried before resorting to medical care.
Vaginal Checks – this intervention can subject the cervix to bacteria, as well as irritation, which can cause the cervix to swell/regress. The actual dilation of the cervix does not mean anything in regards to how soon labor will be over. However, sometimes women do find comfort in knowing that they are progressing. Vaginal checks can be done by the woman herself, if she so desires. You can also gauge dilation by the woman’s fundal height, or “Purple Line”.