Childbirth is one of the most important events in life. (More important, I dare say, than a wedding.) Your birth experience-whether empowering, traumatic, or somewhere in between- will have a lasting effect on your future, your baby’s future, and the future of your partnership. People tend to spend a great deal of time (not to mention money) on preparations for their wedding day. I urge you to dedicate as many resources, if not more, to prepare for your birth.
How? Do research and look for the right professionals to assist you. You want a supportive, caring, and knowledgeable team at your side. Choose your place of birth carefully. Speak to other people and ask for recommendations. Read books about birth, lactation, and baby care. Watch videos that present different approaches. Get a doula. Really, this is your best investment. Don’t skip the doula! Lastly, take childbirth classes (yes, classes, in plural). This is critical for you to make informed choices.
One unique approach to childbirth education you may want to consider is the Paula Method. Here are five ways this method will support you on your path to a gentle, natural birth:
1. You’ll connect to your body
Many women are told that their bodies will simply take over during birth, and if they surrender to them, birth will happen on its own. This could be the case if we were truly connected to our bodies. However, we live in a society that rarely allows us to let our bodies express themselves fully. From early childhood we are told to control our bodies, our facial expressions, and our voices. The ability to freely express movement is very important during birth. Most of us do not know how to allow this movement to occur or are self-conscious about other people seeing us do so. The Paula Method teaches people how to connect with their bodies’ cues and respond to them effectively to enhance progress. Our students become experts at letting their bodies run the show during childbirth. They know what they want to do because they have done extensive practice in our classes. Women who learn the Paula Method during their pregnancies, don’t need anyone to tell them what to do during birth. This is empowerment at its very best.
Graceful Ease students say:
“This method is very effective. It's like unlocking your body's innate wisdom!”
“The Paula Method helped me in many ways. First, to relax, which helped me be more present during labor and birth. Second, to promote a fast, safe, and healthy birth. Third, the method taught me to trust my body and to be mindful about the signs it gives me”.
“What I learned was very helpful. I’m so glad I took this course”
2. You’ll work with your body
The general advice from mainstream childbirth educators is to relax (with self-hypnosis, visualizations, massage, relaxing music, dimmed lights, essential oils, etc.) and to move around (walk, climb stairs, rock from side to side etc.) to speed up birth. While relaxation and movement are both important and necessary for an effective birth, there is another component that is usually overlooked. The most profound sensation during birth is the contraction of the uterus. Without efficient contractions, birth will not progress. The Paula Method is the only approach that teaches women to actively assist the uterus with its contractions. Usually, women are told to surrender to the waves of contractions. Our approach is to activate other parts of the body in a way that strengthens the contractions of the uterus. Think this technique promotes pain? Think again! The body lovingly accepts this assistance and speeds up the process. One of the midwives that witnessed a Paula birth said she had never seen a woman work so efficiently with her body during birth. She even used the term “lioness” to describe that mom. We need to acknowledge that for some women, relaxation feels too passive. The Paula Method gives these women the tools to be proactive during birth and remain true to their individual personalities.
Graceful Ease students say:
“My birth was easy and quick!”
“The Paula Method is a great technique and extremely helpful for coping and making labor progress quickly - but not too quickly!”
“The Paula Method was incredibly helpful throughout my labor, especially during contractions and during pushing. It also worked wonders with my newborn!”
“The drastic change during active labor when my body (surprisingly) chose an exercise I didn't particularly connect with during the lessons, was amazing. It completely changed my labor productivity.”
3. You’ll personalize your birth experience
We don’t have a one-size-fits-all program. We provide our students with a variety of exercises and techniques to choose from and guide them in making decisions for themselves. We teach movement exercises, breathing exercises, relaxation exercises and visualizations. We teach exercises that are useful during pregnancy, both mentally and physically. We teach exercises for efficient contractions and exercises that help produce the right combination of hormones in the brain. We teach how to assist the body in delivering the baby, and we even teach effective exercises to help deliver the placenta. 95% of our students say the Paula Method is extremely useful to prepare them for birth. 95% find it to be extremely useful as a gentle physical activity during pregnancy. 100% find it extremely useful during the first and longest stage of birth. Our greatest achievement, however, is that our students find that their bodies simply direct them during birth; and they feel confident to trust them. During our lessons, we teach women how to sense and follow what their bodies need. On the day they give birth, our students are experts in following their bodies’ spontaneous movements and are in tune with themselves. We teach women how to connect to the endless wisdom of their bodies and have the utmost confidence that each of them possesses the ability to connect this way on a deep level.
Graceful Ease students say:
“I loved the gentleness of the program. It allows you to really connect with your body and your baby.”
“Believing in your body’s ability to give birth and working with it gave me confidence and the natural birth experience I never expected to have”.
4. You’ll protect your pelvic floor
The pelvic floor is one of the most mistreated parts of the body. When it functions well, it’s easy to forget how important it is to protect it. Pregnancy and birth, however, can bring forth many pelvic floor-related issues that require our attention, from hemorrhoids and incontinence to tears and scar tissue, diastasis rectus abdominis, and pelvic pain. While the Paula Method teaches people how to heal pelvic floor dysfunctions and injuries, the ideal situation is to prevent these issues from occurring in the first place.
Becoming familiar with the pelvic floor while pregnant can help activate pelvic muscles correctly during birth, thereby minimizing unnecessary injuries in advance. The Prenatal Paula Method is the only program that offers thorough pelvic floor education. Pelvic floor health is our expertise! During our prenatal lessons, women learn how to activate their pelvic floors in a pleasant, more efficient way and protect them from unnecessary injuries and complications during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Ineffective pushing during childbirth can lead to pelvic floor injuries and lasting damage. National statistics show that first time moms have a 95% chance of tearing during childbirth. By activating the pelvic floor correctly, 50% of our students do not tear at all during childbirth an additional 30% have minimal tears that may not even require stitches.
If Kegels are not your thing, we hear you! You are invited to discover a whole different approach to pelvic floor health. The gentle Paula Method exercises are holistic and address more than one area of the body at a time. You will soon realize that your body asks for these exercises and enjoys the practice.
Graceful Ease students say:
“Primarily, my problems stem from my first birth where I had third-degree tears. I found it was very helpful to have some guidance in preparing for labor, coping with contractions techniques and help in delivery. The technique and the coaching helped keep me from bearing down too much.”
“The Method really helped my healing after a fast birth that gave me a surprising recovery (different than my 2 previous births).”
“I had a gentle birth, and the Paula method even helped me with some bladder issues I had right after the birth. My midwife wanted to use a catheter, but I tried one of the Paula Method exercises and it worked!”
5. You’ll learn alongside experienced moms
Over 80% of our students are second or third-time moms. This might seem counterintuitive, but there's a good explanation. Although birth is a natural thing, we live in a world where our exposure to births is primarily through movies and television. We are programmed to view birth as a risky, passive and painful event. Some first-time moms naively trust the medical system to take care of their baby’s birth for them. Others can be overly optimistic, hoping to give birth naturally on their own.
A Second or third-time mom, on the other hand, has already experienced birth and is therefore motivated to make her next birth her own success. She already knows the system might not have her best interests at heart and that a natural birth requires more than simply the right intentions. She may have taken various classes and discovered that the tools they offered were not enough for her.
Our surveys show that 100% of our students found the Paula Method to be useful during the second stage of birth (delivery of the baby). 76% of them said that is was extremely useful.
Every mother hopes for a quick and gentle birth with as little damage as possible to the pelvic floor. Training in the Paula Method as a first-time mom provides you with effective tools to give birth naturally. In our group classes, you’ll have the advantage of learning alongside second and third-time moms, who bring their valuable personal experience to share with you.
Graceful Ease students say:
“I wish I knew you for my first birth. Taking your class is the best decision I made. My birthing experience was empowering, and I am proud to have learned all the coping techniques and healing strategies.”
“I am very grateful. Michal taught me the most important things I needed to know to prepare. It really helped me during birth.”
“I found all the exercises I learned to be very effective and helpful throughout labor and delivery.”
Graceful Ease offers Prenatal Paula Method lessons in both small group classes and private sessions. In addition to in-studio lessons in West Orange, we offer at-home sessions for pregnant students on bed rest.
Our first group session for 2019 begins next week, on Sunday January 19th. We hope you’ll join us!