Chelsea Bootsman

Birth Doula, Birth Photographer,

Family Photographer, Videographer



Serving Red Deer and Central Alberta

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©2019 Chelsea Bootsman Doula.Photo.Film

May 1, 2018

Factors for a shorter, easier labour


Edited: May 1, 2018



There are many ways to prepare your body for labour, including chiropractor adjustments, massages, drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating healthy, attending prenatal exercise classes, etc. However, how many of us know exactly why we should be doing these activities? Yes it all sounds good, and we’ve been told that it’s important for something....but what?

Our bodies are very intricate systems, both physically and mentally, and developing a baby inside our womb’s are a very intricate process. Some of the ways our bodies prepare for labour, are by toning our pelvic muscles and uterus, while gently turning baby into the most ideal position for labour (left occiput anterior), and allowing baby to descend down into our pelvis. In most cases, our bodies don’t need much help making these changes, but occasionally, they need a little assistance.

Aside from the physical, we also need to take care of our emotional state about labour, because if we don’t, we can subconsciously put up mental blocks that either keep our bodies from progressing, or add tension and morepain.

The four main factors that lend to an easier labour, are fetal positioning, pelvic muscles and ligaments, psychologically, and the hormone oxytocin.


Fetal positioning:

The way our pelvises are designed, either makes an easy passage for babies to get through, or a less than ideal passage for babies.



Muscles and ligaments:




It’s important to have stretched, toned, and balanced muscles and ligaments for labour. Imbalanced muscles and ligaments can shift baby into poor positioning, and tight muscles and ligaments, may not allow your pelvis to shift and move the way it needs, for baby to properly engage.






Mental blocks or fears, can make for a longer, tougher labour, so it’s good to work through these fears.

If you’ve ever heard of the fear - tension - pain cycle, it means that fear can lead to tension (not being able to relax during or between contractions), which leads to more pain, which then leads back to fear.


Oxytocin: Oxytocin is the natural “love” hormone. This hormone is produced throughout labour, and helps keep contraction coming steadily. Even more of this hormone is produced after the baby is birthed, and it aids in the delivery of the placenta, the contraction of the postpartum uterus, the production of breastmilk, and more!

Sometimes, our emotional state or fears can

inhibit the production of oxytocin, which can lead to a longer, more painful labour. Ways to encourage the production of more oxytocin in labour; Be intimate with your partner. Laughter and dancing Getting rid of distractions, and staying as relaxed as possible. Labouring with dim lights and soft music. If you are neither a relinquishing mother or a surrogate, it may also help to visualize holding your baby.



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  • Admin
    May 1, 2018

    Fetal positioning plays a very important role to the duration, intensity, and overall success of vaginal deliveries, and so mapping out where your baby is lying, will help you have a good idea of whether or not you need to do more activities to get baby into an ideal position. You may hear that your baby is head down, transverse, or breech. Head down is the most ideal position to birth a baby, and if your baby happens to still be in a transverse (sideways) or breech (head up) position past approximately the 33 week mark, it’s good to try extra activities and exercises to try to turn your baby into a head down position (there are some fantastic resources out there, on how to turn your baby). Your care provider may be able to tell you whether your baby is head down, transverse, or breech, just by feeling the outside of your tummy, or sending you for an ultrasound, however, they most likely won’t be able to tell you which direction your baby is facing, which can play another big roll during labour. So this is where belly mapping can come in. Belly mapping is best done around or after the 35 week mark, because before then, babies may still be floating around, before settling into the pelvis. When baby is head down, how the head is positioned in the pelvis, is defined as LOA, OP, ROP, etc. The most ideal position for birth is LOA ((left occiput anterior) - this is the best way for baby to fit into the pelvis), but if a baby starts out in a different position, they will often rotate on their own before the head engages into the pelvis. Sometimes, the head might get a bit “stuck” in one position before entering the pelvis, and interventions may be needed - this is often because pelvic muscles are too tight or imbalanced. L, R - The first letter will be defined as Left, Right, this tells us which side the occiput is located - the left side or your pelvis or right side. No beginning letter means that the occiput is either directly in front or directly to the back. O - The second letter is Occiput, which is essentially the crown of baby’s head. Doctors and midwives can determine what position the baby is in during labour, by feeling the fontanelles,  if baby is low enough, and there is enough dilation. A, P, T - The third letter defines where the baby is facing;                                                                    Posterior (“sunny side up”) - when the baby is facing toward your belly. Anterior - when baby is facing toward your back. Transverse - when baby is facing to the side. OA - Occiput Antertior LOA - Left Occiput Anterior LOT - Left Occiput Transverse ROA - Right Occiput Anterior OP - Occiput Posterior LOP - Left Occiput Posterior ROP - Right Occiput Posterior ROT - Right Occiput Transverse
  • Admin
    May 1, 2018

    You don't have to do all of these, they are simply suggestions of stretches you may try, that can possibly help you to have an easier birthing experience. These stretches and activities are meant to help loosen up muscles and ligaments (particularly in your pelvis), while encouraging baby to engage into an ideal position for birth.  Do these activities  at your own risk, and discuss some of them with your care provider, based on your health and limitations. If you would like to know more about how or why to do these, you can research them for yourself. Lots of walking - Every day. Works baby into a good position and stretches tight pelvic muscles. Sleeping on your side, with a pillow between your knees (this may also help to alleviate some hip pain). Chiropractic adjustments - Helps get everything aligned, sooth pains, and increase blood circulation. Prenatal massage - Helps loosen up tight muscles, sooth aches and pains, release stress, and increase blood circulation. Acupressure, Acupuncture, Reflexology - Can help stimulate organ function, release stress, increase blood flow, and relieve aches and pains. Magnesium/epsom salt baths - Relaxes and sooths achy muscles. Magnesium is also good for energy, and relieving nausea, but is best absorbed transdermally (through the skin). Forward leaning inversion - Please do not do this without being shown properly. We will go over this at your prenatal. Psoas release (legs up wall) - We go over this at your prenatal Hands and knees/cat stretches - Every day. Helps loosen tight ligaments, and takes some weight off your back/sacrum. Lunges and squats - Every day. Loosens up tight pelvic muscles and ligaments. Hip rotations on a birth ball - Every day. Do wide rotations in both directions, or figure 8 movements. Side lying release - We will go over this at your prenatal. Rebozo sifting - If you have an anterior placenta, this will need to be done very carefully.