When you’re in labour, and you’ve been pushing and pushing for what seems like an eternity, it can be really hard to feel like you’re making any progress at all. If anything, it’s likely to leave you exhausted, wondering if you should have opted for that elected C-section after all! Moms who’ve had a natural birth say part of the problem is that, besdes your birth support team saying you’re doing “just great”, you can’t see what’s happening!
This, ladies, is where the vagina mirror comes in. It might sound a bit weird (and even a bit gross) to want to look at what’s happening down there, but a birth mirror is sometimes used by midwives and doulas as motivation to help you keep going the distance. Especially towards the end of your labour.
What exactly does a vagina mirror look like?
Don’t worry, a birthing mirror isn’t anything odd or particularly special. If you’re having your baby at home, you can use any mirror really that your birth partner or doula can hold and tilt at the correct angle so you can have a look down there.
In a hospital or birthing centre, your midwife or nurse may have access to a free-standing, adjustable mirror mounted on wheels that can be pushed into the labour room so you can see what’s going on.
Why should you use a birth mirror?
According to midwife Christine Klynhans, the idea of using a birthing mirror is for you to see your baby’s head crowning from the perineum as he pushes himself out the birth canal into the world. In practice, it’s used during a typical, low-risk labour, but you might find you need to ask for one to be organised ahead of time if the idea interests you.
Generally, however, a midwife or doula might recommend using a mirror for these 3 reasons:
- If you’re having a water birth and you want to see what’s going on down there
- If you’re struggling with pushing your maybe you need inspiration
- If you want an extraordinary visual memory of the birth, which for many women is an intensely empowering experience.
But what about the epidural?
According to experts, a birth mirror is a particularly useful tool if you’ve had an epidural. The reason is that it’s difficult to tell if you’re making any progress because you don’t have any sensation in the lower half of your body where all the action is going on. With a birth mirror, however, you can see what’s happening when you push a certain way. This, Christine says, will give you more confidence that you’re pushing in the right way and that you’re on the home stretch.
It’s not very sexy – but it works!
Besides the worry that you might see yourself poop, which can happen in labour (one of those things no one tells you), you might also be worried that by seeing your baby come out of your vagina, it will change the way you feel about this part of your body when it comes to sex later on. But birth practitioners urge you not to rule it out as part of your birth plan, praising its effectiveness when you really need to pull out all the stops.
More about the expert:
Christine Klynhans is a nursing sister and South African Certified Lactation Consultant (SACLC). She currently works at Parentwood Baby and Family Wellness Centre in Pretoria as a well-baby clinic sister and antenatal teacher. She also has a breastfeeding practice and a Breast Pump Demo Centre. Learn more about Christine Klynhans here.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.