People often ask me how to prevent labor dystocia, which is the slowing down, stalling, or stopping of active labor. Dystocia accounts for nearly two-thirds of all c-sections. (And given that our country has a c-section rate of 33%, prevention is definitely worth its weight in gold.) Here are some tips to avoid slowing/stopping labor:
- Eat healthy and exercise during pregnancy.Resist the urge to “eat for two.” Eat enough to nourish yourself and the baby, but focus on lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. (The Brewer Pregnancy Diet is a fantastic guide to follow.) Give yourself a break and splurge now and then, but don’t make processed food and sugar your mainstay. Labor is hard, physical work, and you want to prepare your body for the task!
- Mentally prepare yourself for what is to come.Know what to expect so that when you are in the throes of labor, you can say, “Ok. This is supposed to be happening and I don’t need to be afraid.” If you are overly-stressed or scared, your body will react by tensing up, which can adversely affect labor progress. So, go to childbirth class. Watch live births on YouTube. Read books. If I could recommend only one book, it would be Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Have a plan for the stages of labor.
- Make sure you and your caregiver are on the same page. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you feel like your caregiver isn’t taking the time with you, go to another practice. If you are in a practice that has a rotation of practitioners and there is one that you don’t trust/feel comfortable/click with, it may be a good idea to switch practices. You don’t need the added stress of wondering who’s going to be on call when the time comes. Remember: The rhythm and tempo of your labor is going to be tied to what is going on with you emotionally and mentally.
- Stay at home (or out of the hospital) as long as you can. Here’s an idea: If you are worried about not making it to the hospital on time or you live a bit of a distance away, pick an “on deck” place. Maybe it’s a park nearby the hospital or a mall to walk around in. Then, when you know you’re ready to go, you won’t feel rushed and get there too soon, opening yourself up for possible unnecessary interventions.
- Stay out of that bed!Well, maybe not completely or literally. But the more you change positions, move around, and keep upright, the better your chances are for keeping the pelvis in a nice, open position and using gravity to your advantage. If your hospital/birthing center offers tubs, use them. Warm water can be used as a pain reliever and relaxes the tightened muscles, thus often reducing your time in labor. Sometimes dystocia is caused by a mal-positioning of the baby’s head as he makes way through the pelvis. Upright positions and movements can be a big help in adjusting the baby’s rotations and forward progress.
Thank you Rebecca Nugent from Birth Logic for sharing this great article with us! Rebecca is a birth doula and childbirth instructor. To contact or learn more about Rebecca visit her website at www.seattledoula.com.