a doula uses 6 tips, here she calculates a pregnant patient's due dateAs you get ready for your labor and birth, you might be getting nervous. But know that there are some tips and tricks that doulas use to help make the birth experience a little easier. A doula, also known as a birth attendant, offers emotional and physical support before, during, and after childbirth.

Thankfully, an experienced doula who’s helped with a variety of births can help with some of your worries and prepare you.

Here are 6 things that doulas wish you knew about labor:

1. It’s all about the breathing

Our natural reaction to scary situations and pain is to hold our breath. But doing this delays the process, not to mention that it makes every passing second take forever. Try this breathing practice a couple of times a day: breathe in for five counts, then exhale for five counts.

2. It’s not a sprint; it’s more like a marathon

The more work your body does on its own, the better. Help it along by doing things that make you happy, going on daily walks, and drinking raspberry leaf tea on the reg. About three cups of raspberry tea a day will help, but make sure to check with your doctor first. The release of oxytocin (AKA the “happy hormone”) will help naturally advance the early stages of labor.

3. You have the power

If you’d like to try laboring while squatting, go for it! If you want to do a water birth, have at it! It’s important to be specific about your birth preferences and what you’re comfortable with. Speak up if something is happening that you aren’t sure about. This is your birth, your baby, and your body; ask any questions that you need to.

4. Be flexible about your birth plan

Some women like to get super-detailed in their birth plan, and that’s OK. But know that it’s just a plan; it’s not set in stone. At the end of the day, whatever’s safest for you and your baby is generally what’s best. With that said, if there are items in your birth plan that are really important to you such as skin-to-skin contact after birth or cord blood banking, make sure that your care team knows.

5. For back labor, counter-pressure will be your best friend!

Make sure to pack a tennis ball in your hospital bag, in case you experience back labor. Applying counter pressure using the tennis ball will do wonders for pain relief!

6. Expect the unexpected

Everybody’s labor and birth story is different. Just because your sister had to have an episiotomy, doesn’t mean you will. By getting all the information you can and remaining open to every possibility, you’ll be on the road to owning your birthing process!