Pregnancy "Support" 101

Support bras, support socks, support tops, support belts…

Once you become pregnant it’s like you get sucked into this huge market of support goods that everyone is telling you you’ll need, and it can get almost as overwhelming and pricey as planning a wedding, ALMOST. Yet, here I am advocating for pregnancy + labor support.

What exactly does that even mean and why do you need it? Let’s start with the top 3 very basics that are MOST important.

  1. I worked in facility that I felt was very supportive to the birth I envisioned. I trusted my coworkers and above all felt safe. When I delivered my second, my husband worked there, I researched the hospital and (again) felt SAFE. Can you say the same about your hospital? Will you be delivering at a facility with a low primary cesarean rate, a place that will support your wishes and put you first? If you answered “no” to this, maybe you can take the time to reconsider.

    As evidence becomes more available to the public, it is no wonder more women are wanting to have more laboring and birthing options.

    But unfortunately it takes 15-20 years for evidence to come into practice in a hospital.

    If your hoping to labor in a birthing tub, but the labor and delivery unit does not even have one, or maybe the hospital you are delivering at has a high primary cesarean rate and low breastfeeding rate… that may be something to reconsider. Spend that extra time and do research. If you are in California, check out, or If you find your hospital isn’t what you thought it would be, call your insurance and switch! If you can’t switch, for whatever reason, know that you can still get an awesome birthing experience by having other “support” systems in place, for example, a great provider.

  2. As a woman, a mama, and a nurse, finding the “perfect” provider is a solid must. As a labor and delivery nurse I was able to indirectly audit, interview, and precisely choose a provider that I knew, trusted, loved, and who felt the same about me.

    How do you feel about YOUR provider?

    Do you find yourself completely comfortable with him/her? Are you able to ask questions without them shutting you down or making you feel silly? Do you completely trust them? If you answered “yes”, AWESOME- that is one of the biggest components of labor support. If you answered “no”… sistah, lets chat.

    In every profession, you will have those people (providers) that just blow you away with their amazingness, and how they put their heart into everything. If you find them, hold them tight, DON’T EVER GO!!

    BUT, there are also those who… well, those who don’t. There were moments I wanted to tell my laboring patients that the provider they chose was not one to honor the birth plan they spent hours preparing, would routinely perform an episiotomy, scoffed at doulas, or that they probably had the highest primary cesarean rate around… but couldn’t or I’d lose my job, the only thing I could do was involve the expecting parents in their care and encourage that family to use their voice and advocate for themselves.

    If you find yourself in a position where you don’t like your provider, you can call your insurance company and get a list of providers, ask other mamas for recommendations, or even look on yelp. Then meet with them until you find THE one.

    You have every right to change providers if you don’t trust or feel comfortable in their care.

    “OK, but Jessica, what if you think you like your physician at first but the closer you get to your due date you find that you are just not happy?” SWITCH.

  3. Have you considered who will be at the hospital or in your room while you are in labor?

    True Story, us Labor and Delivery nurses are never afraid to be the “mean nurse” to guests in the interest of our patients. Labor is an exciting thing, BUT, it doesn’t warrant a party with 15 people sitting around you as you labor, passing a box of pizza back and forth, speaking above each other, and shows like Maury (THE WORST) playing in the background. It is  amazing how much resetting the environment, asking everyone to leave, cleaning the room, turning off the TV and bright lights, actually helps contractions to get back on track and resume labor progression.

    Another question I get asked a lot is about having a birth doulas for labor or having another person available to provide continuous labor support in addition to your partner. A doula’s role is to provide physical support, emotional support, informational support, and advocacy to his/her clients. Evidence shows that women who have had some sort of continuous support show: (Evidence Based Birth®)

    • 25% decrease in the risk of Cesarean; the largest effect was seen with a doula (39% decrease)*

    • 8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; the largest effect was seen with a doula (15% increase)*

    • 10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief; the type of person providing continuous support did not make a difference

    • Shorter labors by 41 minutes on average; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference

    • 38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference

    • 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience; mothers’ risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience was reduced with continuous support provided by a doula or someone in their social network (family or friend), but not hospital staff

While you don’t have complete control of how your pregnancy and childbirth unfold, you can control how you nest your mind and your heart for this momentous day. As a nurse and a wife to a pediatrician, we feel most comfortable delivering in a hospital setting. Knowing our options, asking questions, advocating for ourselves, and choosing a provider and a hospital that we know will support us gives us that certainty and that trust. Take the time you need and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ve got this!!

Big hugs and belly rubs from this mama to you.