TRIMESTERS Massage Therapy Education

The Power of Birth

This article originally appeared in Massage Therapy Canada, Summer 2003 issue.

Reproduced with permission.

by Cindy McNeely, M.T., co-founder of Trimesters

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When the family requests labour support care, a contract is usually drawn up between the family and the M.T. This essentially outlines the responsibilites and commitments of the M.T. Items such as specific dates that one is available to be on call for the birth, at what point the doula will come to hospital or home to attend the labour, what her tasks can include and what they do not (many people think that the role of the doula and the midwife are synonymous, while it must be made extremely clear that the doula does not take part in any of the obstetrical tasks involved in the pregnancy or actual birthing of the baby, but instead provide support with the physical and emotional apects of breathing, relaxation, massage, position changes, and hydrotherapy provision), phone numbers, and how long she will remain with the family after the birth occurs. Many doula’s go to home or hospital when contractions are consistently 5 minutes apart, and leave the new family approximately one to two hours after the baby has been born.

In the days leading up to the due date (EDD = expected date of delivery), the LSP is often in daily contact to check in on any changes in the progress toward labour, and to provide reassuring support at this time of high expectation. The LSP asks to be informed of any signs indicating a shift toward labour. These signs may be of a minor nature such as low back achiness similar to the onset of a menstrual period, or an increase in the intensity or frequency of the preparatory contractions known as Braxton Hicks. It could also be indicated through an increased desire to perform household tasks such as cleaning closets and washing floors and walls which can occur in the final stages of pregnancy (not in all impending birthing women however!!!) and which has become known as the ‘nesting urge’.

More indicative indications of the upcoming onset of labour would be the physiological changes the woman undergoes such as discharge of the mucus plug or a ‘bloody show’ although there can still be days which will pass. Rupture of the membranes (ROM), and/or contractions that become ‘longer, stronger, and closer together’ are signals that the birthing process is becoming more active. page