What can I do in labor that will help it to progress well?
There are four things pregnant women in labor need to remember that can have a profound positive impact on their labors.
- Move into optimal pelvic positions to create more space for your baby to move through your pelvis for birth.
- Keep hands relaxed during all contractions.
- Keep hydrated – drink water and juice.
- Believe in your body wisdom that knows how to give birth.
Here’s what else you can do…
- In the weeks before your due date, scrub the floor on your hands and knees. This is a position that obeys all of the Four Principles of Optimal Pelvic Positioning taught by BirthWorks International.
- Walk up and down steps sideways. This helps the hips to move asymmetrically (unevenly) which increases the space in which the baby can move.
- Breathe in deeply with arms overhead. In the last trimester, this position helps to lift the rib cage up off the fundus of the uterus so the lower lung fields can aerate well and prevent a condition called atelectasis (collapse of alveoli).
- Drop your chest to the floor while on hands and knees and feel the good stretch. This is referred to as the “polar bear” position and helps the fetus find a more optimal position.
- Tie a rope or rebozo in a knot at one end and insert in top of door. Close door. Hang from rope with two hands and feel the stretch of your trunk going up balancing the stretch going down. Then sway side to side. This opens the pelvis making more room for the baby. Make hip circles in figure eights. This helps the pelvis to shift side to side and makes more space for the baby in which to move. Great to do while lunging with one foot up on a low stool.
- In full kneeling over a therapy ball, rock in small circles to the right and then to the left. This position allows the upper body to relax over a birthing ball, stretching the trunk up, and shifting hips side to side opening the pelvis for the baby.
- Slow dancing with hands on hips or around partner’s shoulders. This is a great position to do between contractions, with arms around your partner it offers the stretch on the trunk and moves the pelvis side to side, helping to open it for birth.
- Pelvic tilts on hands and knees or against a wall. On hands and knees, hump your back up like a cat. Hold for five seconds. Then drop your back low, letting it sink down. Hold for five seconds. This shifts the sacrum of the pelvis and opens the pelvis more for the baby to move down. It also stretches the low back muscles which may be tight with the weight of the baby being forward in the last trimester. This can also be done against a wall standing with your back to the wall and heels touching the wall. Place your hands behind your low back and push your back against your hands to the wall. Hold five seconds and then relax.
- Drinking water and juices: Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the most important ways to help your cervix dilate to give birth. Earlier in labor juices work well to give you calories for the hard work of labor. Towards the end of labor, most women just want water. Drinking water/juice also helps a woman in labor to need to sit on the toilet more, a great place for labor where we are already conditioned to let go.
- Develop an affirmation – a positive thought pattern- and say it over and over again, every day. Example “My body knows how to give birth.” Or “I am a strong and capable woman,” or “Strong contractions birth my baby,” or “ I relax into each contraction.”
- Another interesting idea is to decide how long you want to labor. Giving your body this message can influence your labor more than you may realize. This is based on a labor where you can move about into optimal pelvic positions.
And above all, remember:
“There is a secret in our culture,
and it’s not that birth is painful.
It’s that women are strong.”
—Laura Stavoe Harm