EPISODE 11 | EMPOWERED BIRTH PT 1 | Labor Positions, Stages & Breath w/ Dawn Herring

Labor Positions, Stages of Labor, and Breathing During Birth with Dawn Herring of the Empowered Birth Series Pt. 1



Today I welcome special guest Dawn Herring, wife and mama of two beautiful babies and Happy Birth Way (HBW) Certified Childbirth Educator. Dawn shares with us how she became a childbirth educator and what inspires her to educate couples on evidence to have the most empowered birth experience possible. We cover three very important lessons that Dawn teaches in her class recording breath and movement, the stages and phases of labor, support techniques, the role of mindfulness, intuition and movement, and some practical tips to be armed with information throughout their journey.


We welcome to the show our special guest, Dawn Herring.

[4:45] Dawn knew when she was pregnant with her first baby and sitting in her HBW (Happy Birth Way) birth education class — and marketing the training — that she wanted to teach. She herself had some healing to do — both of her births were beautiful water births but ended in transfers to the hospital due to complications from a retained placenta. It took her taking her own training to really begin to heal from the self-judgment, doubt, and disappointment that she was carrying with her because things didn’t go quite as planned.

[5:40] Giving women and their partners the education AND open space to have a conversation of compassion, empathy, and understanding is her catalyst and passion.

[10:20] Radical self-acceptance and love is the place to start in the process of an empowered birth. Accept and forgive knowing you did the best you could, and practice mindfulness with being present with your loved ones.

[12:08] Dawn shares what an empowered birth and labor experience looks like. Knowledge is power and the more meaningful dialogue a mom has prior to the labor the more set up they are and the easier to navigate through the process, should things change.

[17:04] The ability to connect with our babies early on in pregnancy helps to foster a sense of trust in the process and to surrender to the perfection in what’s happening.

[18:47] Her first class is “Breath and Movement.” We kick off our series by understanding how important breath and movement are during labor. Breath during labor is so important because how we breathe is directly correlate to how our nervous system and hormonal system respond in labor. Using the breath to cope during labor helps to keep our minds “right” and our body to do what it needs to do to keep labor progressing. 

[25:43] The second class is “The Letting Go of Labor – Stages and Phases and Labor Support Techniques.” 

This includes how knowing what’s happening in your body during labor, and what your baby is doing, is key to setting yourself up for an empowered experience. In this class, the focus is on what’s happening during Stage

1 labor — early, active and transition. In this class, Moms will learn how to use movement to bring awareness to what you and your baby need during labor. This also empowers labor partners to give practical tips on how to help the mom.

[35:02] Attending birth classes is a very important part of men being empowered, because this is new to them, too. Giving them as much info as possible can help set them up and make them feel comfortable with what lies ahead.

[40:22] “Learning Labor Positions.” The third class is practicing some labor positions in an environment that simulates the intensity of a contraction that can help moms and dads practice their breath along with movement and get some of the “awkwardness” out so that they can remember it when the time comes.

[49:40] For any of Dawn’s students where interventions became part of the equation, they have ALL said that they felt in charge of those choices, informed, empowered and less scared about them. We can also tell you that where you labor makes a huge difference vs. birth center, home, etc.

[56:57] We don’t want to be in fear or defensive, and the more we can dialogue — the earlier possible — the better. It’s a good idea to get everyone involved with the birth on board before the actual labor begins.

[66:30] We give information on Dawn’s classes and how you can take them if you are currently in the Tampa area. 

Links to take you further

To Reach out to Dawn for private sessions


Link to register for Dec 7th Class - if  you don't have a mindbody account, it will take a brief minute to create one. 


Links on induction - I will preface this with that these are for women who enjoy reading statistics and lots of detailed info. I find them fascinating but also get taken out sometimes with all the dates, etc.  But for the most part, Evidence Based Birth does a great job of compiling data and getting to a bottom line:



Maternal Age:



Understanding the role physical therapy can have in treating infertility.

Today I am here with Mary Ellen Kramp, Physical Therapy Specialist as well as a technician in craniosacral therapy, lymphatic drainage, and visceral manipulation. We have a lively and in-depth talk on the importance of structural integration when you are trying to get pregnant, as well as during pregnancy, and then my favorite part of this topic, what you can do for yourself postpartum. Mary Ellen’s gentle approach has helped many women with issues both during pregnancy and postpartum. It’s rare that women get referred for physical therapy related to fertility issues, but Mary Ellen works hard to change any stigma, open up a dialogue, and be an advocate for the benefits and health-related gains of seeing either her or a practitioner with a similar approach. Finally, we talk with her about self-care being one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your partner, and your baby, along with her advice for those trying to have a baby.


[2:15] Mary Ellen gives the background of her becoming a physical therapist. Both she and I are nerds at heart with a love for the human body and healing! She ended up getting a reputation as the person to see when no one could figure out what was going on with them.

[5:20] The normal fertility rate is 57% of couples trying by 3 months will become pregnant, and her results were bringing people up to the average.

[9:27] Mary Ellen raised therapy guide dogs and now there are puppies at her office!

[11:49] Mary Ellen takes a very gentle, yet effective, approach to physical therapy for infertility. She looks for trigger points, muscular and structural issues, and acts as a catalyst to get the body to release what it does not need.

[16:21] Mary Ellen looks at both the pelvic muscles to see if there is anything to be released and then next the lymphatic system. The lymph system and fascia are both two crucial elements often overlooked when it comes to fertility and women’s health.

[20:43] She often treats women during pregnancy around week 36 to help prevent birth trauma. Some need just one appointment, and some need more frequent treatment.

[24:05] Postpartum work is super important to help a plethora of issues that women may think they are stuck with for the rest of their life.

[34:46] Women in France take a few weeks after giving birth to get physical therapy for their pelvic floor walls.

[37:29] Mary Ellen and I both stress the importance of self-care after giving birth.

[39:36] Her one piece of advice for women trying to get pregnant: there is so much more than just Western Medicine. You have to do what you need to become pregnant, but keep an open mind to the body/mind connection and “alternative” treatments.

[42:10] With some women who have abuse and trauma in their past, their pelvic floor holds a lot of tension. Usually, it helps to deal with the emotional portion first, and then it will help to unblock the head and the heart. Then a physical worker can help clear some of the trauma.

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Special thanks to Dr. Frank Netter for spending his life creating such amazing anatomy drawings for geeks like me!


Continue Your Journey:


American Herbalist Guild 

Atlas of Human Anatomy