Take It Easy

I have encountered a lot of these types of labors lately, and every woman chooses to either heed advise or go their own way. Both are perfectly acceptable and I will support either way of laboring, but it should be taken into consideration the ramifications of these choices... What types of labors? What types of choices?

Let's look at a tale of two women:

Kendra called me to let me know she was woken with contractions every 10 minutes. They were dull and crampy. I recommended that, since it was 2 a.m., she try to rest. If rest was hard to come by, I gave her suggestions to help her rest. I also left instructions that, if anything changed, to call me. 12 hours later, 2 p.m., a very exhausted sounding husband called to let me know that they were now 8 minutes apart and still crampy. Kendra, on the other hand, was exhausted. It seems that, after we hung up, they decided to get things going and went for a walk, did some nipple stimulation in the shower, and were rewarded with stronger cramps... stronger cramps that quickly went back to mild cramps as soon as she laid down to rest. 

Since she was well hydrated and had just eaten a small meal, I again recommended that she rest, after trying some positioning techniques, even if it meant in the tub. She got in the tub, where they slowed down to 12 minutes apart. Worried, she only let herself stay in there for an hour before hopping up and trying parsley and red raspberry leaf shakes, orgasm, and curb walking. 

We went in this pattern for 3 days...

By the time that labor actually started working her (instead of the other way around) - she was wanting the contractions to slow down and give her a break like they had been doing in the days earlier. 24 hours after that, she had a beautiful little one in her arms.

Jenny called me to let me know that she had woke at 4 a.m. to find she was feeling cramps and heaviness in her pelvis. I recommended that she go back to bed and try to rest. If rest was hard to come by, I gave her suggestions to help her rest. I also left instructions that, if anything changed, to call me. She called me again at 9 a.m. to let me know that she could no longer sleep, but that she was able to get about 4 hours of on-again, off-again sleep after we hung up. Per my recommendations, they attempted some positioning techniques, took a bath, at breakfast, and went to work with the intent of calling it a 1/2 day if things were still happening. 

She called me again at dinner to let me know that her contractions were about 4 minutes apart and still mild/crampy. She felt good, and hadn't left work because the distraction was good. Hubby and she were planning on going to bed early 'just in case'. 

We did this for another 24 hours... 

Her husband called me around 11pm that next night to tell me her water had broke and that they were going back to bed, even though contractions were now 3 minutes apart. Still mild and crampy. 

Her husband called me at 5am to tell me that she had been in the tub for an hour and finally woke him 10 minutes ago. She had been up since that time (4am) as her contractions were much more full of pressure, were now in her back and thighs, and she couldn't sleep. I recommended that, now that her labor was demanding her attention, to start doing some of our labor encouraging techniques if they wanted, otherwise what she was doing was fine as well. 

10pm that night she had a baby in her arms.

Jenny and Kendra - two different women with similar labors who made very different birth choices. One chose to labor one way, while another chose to labor another way. Now, they both had unmedicated, vaginal births - but one woman arrived at her baby's birth exhausted, while the other arrived tired, but refreshed.
"If you lay down, the baby will never come out!" - Native American saying
Although this is generally great advise, it applies to a part of labor. Oftentimes, and especially with posterior babies, early labor can go on for hours or even days. These days are preparation, softening the cervix, massaging baby into the pelvis and potentially into a perfect position for birth... and this early labor is not what this quote is talking about.
“Little by little one walks far” - Peruvian Proverb
I prefer this saying... BECAUSE....

On the other hand, active labor is when your labor requires your body be active. Until your labor demands your bodies attention, you should generally go about your days and nights as much as possibly normal - from a seasoned doula who has seen both choices in action.

Be kind to your body, conserve your energy, and be patient with the process. Take it easy!


sarah T said...

I think that sometimes women are so anxious to "get this show on the road" and are very excited that they prefer to stay active and alert. Of course this is especially relevant in a situation where the mom is about to be induced or sectioned. That's completely understandable, but when mom feels the need for an epidural because she hasn't slept in three days it's certainly cause for concern. Sleep, rest, relax as much as possible in the beginning, you never hear of a runner staying up three days in a row jogging before running a marathon. Of course, some of us didn't have a choice. LOL prodromal labor is a pain!

Farmgirl said...

Thanks for this great post. I was more of a "Kendra" during my first labor, and got all stressed out when my cx slowed down, whenever I tried to relax. I tried everything to get them to speed up, instead. 72 hours after things started for me (with ROM, so a bit different, but still), they ended with a c-section, and I was so exhausted. I WISH I had had a doula to advise me during that process! Maybe things would have turned out better.


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