See why these women’s birth days went so right—and pick from their tips to help make your own labor less...laborious.
Tune out. "When I delivered my twins, I brought an iPod loaded with my favorite songs, everything from indie rock to Johnny Cash hymns. Best decision ever. It was like bringing my best friends into the delivery room to comfort me like only they knew how."
—Angela Vincent, mom of four, Los Angeles, CA
Take a breather—lots of them. "I took prenatal yoga, and that allowed me to have a very successful delivery. I was skeptical at first but through relaxing and deep breathing I was able to work my way through each contraction without letting the pain make my body too tense to do its job. Using these techniques, I had three labors that were drug- and intervention-free."
—Jackie Kaufenberg, mom of three, Olivia, Minnesota
Cool off quick. "Ask for an ice pack to put in your underwear immediately after delivery to reduce swelling and pain. I didn’t get to use this technique myself because I had a C-section, but I have prescribed it to thousands of patients, and it helps!"
—Dr. Jennifer Gunter, M.D., author of The Preemie Primer
Hit the shower. "I tell everyone I know to take a warm shower during labor. I’ve done it myself through three natural deliveries. It helps you to relax and feels wonderful."
—Katie Bulger, mom of three, Clarksville, Tennessee
Sit up. "After I had an epidural, my nurses adjusted the bed so I was sitting completely upright with my legs down on a little stool. The nurses explained that this would allow gravity to help with the labor. I went from six centimeters to ‘We can see the head’ in about an hour and a half. I guess mom was right when she told me to sit up straight!"
—Mindy Airhart, mom of two, New Orleans, Louisiana
Get to know the team. "The practice I attended made sure to introduce me to everyone on the staff through the course of my pregnancy, down to the nurses. When I arrived for my delivery, the on-call nurse was one that I’d already met. That made it so much easier and more comforting. If your doctor’s office doesn’t do these meet and greets, ask them to."
—Darneisha Calixto, mom of one, Washington D.C.