What are birth muffins?

I once had a long and intense conversation with my husband about the right way to eat a muffin.

(Bottom, then top, if you’re wondering. Save the best for last.)

But this discussion involved so much more than just muffins. It involved a conversation about what we value in our food, beauty, what it means to savor something, and our approaches to consumable delights.

This experience stuck with me, so much so that now I use the concept “birth muffins” to describe things that fully engage you: activities that are perfect for the onset of labor.

Early labor involves on and off contractions, or contractions that are regular but very far apart. It can last for a while, and it can be anything from annoying to really annoying. So I often advise in childbirth education classes or doula prenatals that families preparing for labor make a list of activities for this stage that will demand their full attention.

I think the best birth muffins are:

  • meaningful activities,
  • useful activities, or
  • activities that promote oxytocin.

Meaningful activities: what are things that are important to you? A meaningful conversation with a spouse is one example of an activity that might align with your values. Consider what helps you find joy and purpose in life. These are often spiritual or relational activities, and many of them can be adapted to work with the occasional contraction.

Useful activities: what are things that will prepare you and those around you for both and postpartum? Sometimes “nesting activities” can be a great thing to save for early labor, or even your simple to-do list might suffice if it’s engaging enough.

Activities that promote oxytocin: what sorts of things will give you that love hormone? Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that helps labor move faster and stronger. Things that increase the presence of that hormone in your bloodstream can possibly make early labor quicker but will definitely make it more pleasant.

You might hear that early labor is a time to *get through* or to *make it*, to grin and bear until you get to active labor (the more intense stuff). I want to challenge that narrative. I think early labor can be a beautiful time! But, in order to make that happen, I do think it’s helpful to have a game plan of what’s going to engage you, amuse you, make you feel love: a list of birth muffins.

(Pssssst: want a free list of birth muffin ideas? Drop your email address here and I’ll send one to you!)

3 thoughts on “What are birth muffins?”

  1. […] Even more specifically, keep in mind that epidurals are usually placed after someone enters active labor. Sometimes getting through early labor can be a bear, and as you wait for that epidural, your doula can help you figure out how to spend early labor (I work with my clients to help them spend it beautifully, meaningfully, and / or usefully; see this post for more info). […]


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