As a birth doula, you will use a lot of tools to help support your clients during birth. What one client finds helpful, another might find unhelpful and distracting. For this reason, it is important to have a lot of comfort tools in your toolbox. Mindfulness for birth is a coping technique many birthers find helpful.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation. With mindfulness, people are in a state of active awareness. This awareness is an intentional focus in the present moment.
General mindfulness, as well as labor specific techniques, can be used to help cope with labor and contractions. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine conducted a study about mindfulness during labor. The research showed this tool could be quite helpful in your professional toolbox.
Mindfulness For Birth – Having a Positive Birth Experience
As doulas, one of our biggest priorities is helping our clients have a positive birth experience. Regardless of specifics, such as use of intervention, specific birth outcomes, etc., we hope our clients feel safe, confident, and supported throughout their birth experience.
Researchers found that study participants who used mindfulness were more likely to report a positive birth experience. For birth doulas, this makes mindfulness an important tool to add to our toolbox.
The researchers created a childbirth education class which included mindfulness. The class was called Mind in Labor (MIL): Working with Pain in Childbirth. It was designed to teach mindfulness skills to cope with labor and address birthers’ fears.
The fear, tension, pain cycle can greatly impact how one feels during labor. Adequate preparation to help birthers understand the birth process is a key component for a positive experience. From there, birthers need tools to help reduce tension and thus better manage pain.
Mindfulness can be an excellent tool for navigating the fear, tension, pain cycle.
What Did Researchers Find?
Researchers did not find a difference in perceived pain during labor, or in epidural use. However, it did find:
- Increased rate of self-confidence during labor and birth
- A lower rate of IV opioid use during labor
- Lower rates of postpartum depression through the follow-up period.
As doulas, we hope our clients report positive birth experience, feel empowered, and have the support they need to reduce their risk of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). The researchers found that mindfulness could be an additional way to help us support our clients.
How Can Doulas Use Mindfulness Techniques in Supporting Clients?
As doulas, part of our role in prenatal support and education. While we are not inherently childbirth educators (some of us are also CBEs), we do provide basic understanding and resources to learn more.
Taking time to research which mindfulness techniques you like, if there are any guided relaxation recordings you prefer, or childbirth classes which incorporate mindfulness can be helpful for providing your clients with resources.
During prenatal visits, you can discuss mindfulness options, techniques, and the benefits. You can also take time to practice some mindfulness techniques, provide a book resource, and find out their specific fears and concerns.
If someone is just generally anxious about labor, the type of mindfulness best for them may vary from someone who is extremely fearful of pain. It is also helpful to remind clients mindfulness can be most helpful when they are familiar with it. Taking time to practice mindfulness before labor can help them use mindfulness more effectively.
It can be helpful to explain they can use mindfulness to cope with pregnancy ailments, anxieties, and even pregnancy insomnia and restlessness.
Will All Clients Like Mindfulness For Birth?
Like every tool we have as doulas, what works for one client may be disliked by another. While anyone can use mindfulness, not everyone will enjoy or find it helpful. As you get to know your client more, and even while seeing how they navigate early labor, you will see if mindfulness might be beneficial for them.
It is helpful to be confident in offering guidance and support around mindfulness. Then, if you have clients interested in it, you can offer it.
Not already a certified birth doula? Be sure to register today and be prepared to support families with mindfulness for birth and other comfort measures during labor.