The Transition to Parenthood Podcast offers ten short episodes that summarize the key information you need to know to prepare for the birth of a baby and the early days of parenting. Episodes are 20 minutes long so you can listen during a workout, during your commute, over lunch, while walking around your neighborhood, or soaking in a bath. They are available here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other major podcast providers. Transcripts of all episodes are linked to below. In these ten episodes, you’ll get all the information you’d get in a childbirth preparation class for free in an easily accessible format.
Host Janelle Durham, co-author of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn is a mom, doula, parent educator, and Lamaze childbirth educator. She brings together research-based information with realistic recommendations from her experience working with thousands of families.
Episode 1: Your Toolbox for Coping with Labor Pain
The most common question from pregnant people and support people preparing for labor is ‘how will we handle the pain’? This episode provides an overview of all the tools in your Toolbox for Coping with Labor Pain. (Also check out the Guide to Labor Support – a 2 page summary of comfort techniques.) It introduces both non-drug comfort techniques and pain medications, explores how the choice of pain coping techniques influences the whole experience of labor, and discusses how the Pain Medication Preferences of the laboring person guides the support person’s role. [Transcript of episode.]
Understanding Labor Pain
I discuss the physiology of pain and ways that parents describe how contractions felt. Given all the physical changes and challenges of labor, it’s not surprising it is painful for many people. However, the acronym P.A.I.N. can remind us that labor pain is Purposeful, Anticipated, Intermittent, and Normal. Understanding what factors make that pain worse than it has to be helps us learn how to reduce it. We’ll talk about how to shift from the Fear Tension Pain Triangle to the Confidence Relaxation Comfort Triangle. [Transcript of episode.]
Stages of Labor and the 3R’s
An overview of the stages of labor, plus comfort techniques. In early labor (0 to 5 cm dilation), the focus is on Relaxation, using techniques like slow deep breathing, visualization, massage and baths. In active labor (6 – 8 cm), the focus is on Rhythm, so rhythmic breathing helps, as does movement such as walking, slow dancing, or rocking on a birth ball. In transition (8 – 10 cm), contractions are coming hard and fast and can be overwhelming. The focus is Ritual – finding something that works to reduce pain, and doing it on every contraction can help you feel like there’s some control over the process. [Transcript of podcast episode 3 at: https://transitiontoparenthood.wordpress.com/for-parents/labor-and-birth/]
Episode 4 –
Comfort Techniques for Labor
Learn comfort techniques for labor pain, plus learn how and why they work. Cognitive strategies include education to help you understand what’s happening, visualization, affirmations, and reframing pain as a sign of progress. Gate Control techniques work by focusing your attention on something pleasant (like music, a beautiful view or aromatherapy). This blocks pain signals from reaching the brain, so you’ll experience less pain. Counter-irritants include things like biting your lip – a pain you control – to help the pain you can’t control feel more manageable. Body mechanics involves using position, movement and massage to encourage baby to move into the best position to help labor progress. [Transcript of episode 4.]
Episode 5: Labor Support
Continuous labor support, which can be provided by a partner or spouse, other family or friends, a professional doula or by medical caregivers has been shown to reduce interventions, improve outcomes, and improve satisfaction with the birth. We’ll discuss how to provide effective labor support: by learning about birth, learning what best comforts the laboring person, creating an environment where she is comfortable and doesn’t feel judged, watching for the 3 R’s and reinforcing those, and – most importantly – helping her to feel safe, loved and protected. When someone feels safe, oxytocin and endorphins flow, and labor progresses faster and hurts less. [Transcript of episode.]
Episode 6: Pain Medication for Labor
An overview of medications for labor pain and childbirth – nitrous oxide, IV opioids, and epidural analgesia. For each it covers how it’s administered, the benefits – how it helps with labor pain, and the possible side effects. There is also a detailed discussion of labor support for a person using epidural analgesia. [Transcript of episode.]
Episode 7: Birth and Baby’s First Hour
This episode covers second stage labor – the birth of a baby, third stage – the delivery of the placenta, and the first hour of baby’s life. Addresses when to push, how to push, and positions to aid labor progress. Talks about “the Golden Hour” of bonding with a new baby. [Transcript of episode.]
Episode 8: Maternity Care Choices
Choosing the best caregiver, birthplace, and labor support for you depends on your personal goals and priorities. If you need to make choices about interventions including induction and cesarean, you can ask your care providers key questions about benefits, risks, and alternatives. [Transcript of episode.]
Episode 9 – Caring for Your Newborn
Offers a brief overview of key information about caring for a new infant – how to figure out what baby needs by observing their cues, how to meet those needs with feeding, diapering, dressing, and bathing, calming crying, and helping your baby to sleep well. Includes an intro to breastfeeding. [Here’s a transcript of this episode with additional information and links to resources.]
Episode 10: Life with Baby
Adapting to life with a new baby presents many joys and challenges. Learn about the importance of self-care, relationship skills, tips for managing daily tasks and returning to work. [transcript of this episode.]
In this podcast, I cover almost all the information you would learn in a full childbirth and parenting preparation series for free. But I still recommend that you take an interactive online childbirth class (e.g. on Zoom), or in-person birth classes, because being able to interact with a teacher and your classmates, ask questions, see demonstrations of techniques and get feedback as you practice them are all things I can’t duplicate here.
Note: This podcast series was recorded before coronavirus. For information on impact of the pandemic, see the COVID FAQ from American College of Obstetricians and this Consumer Reports, and check with your caregiver for the most current local practices.