28 May, 2019

One of the biggest reasons for intervention during childbirth is this awfully phrased ‘failure to progress’ or to put it more kindly, your labour has slowed down. That word ‘failure’. It makes it sound like YOU have done something to put yourself in this position. It is more likely that you have failed to be supported effectively and rarely, there is an unavoidable physical reason that things just aren’t moving in the way you may have hoped.

Once you understand how your body and mind work, you will be able to reduce the chance of these 5 simple things affecting your labour. In next week’s post, I will give you 5 tips to get things back on track!

So, the wonderful love and happy hormone, oxytocin, is what you need to have surges (contractions). It is only produced when you feel safe, secure and calm.

The enemy is adrenaline, produced when you are far from relaxed.

The two can’t work together and adrenaline will STOP you producing oxytocin. Yes, I know what you are now thinking. Won’t surges stop if I am stressed? You are right. This leads me on to reason number 1.

Your environment has changed. A lot of people find that they are labouring well at home and then the time comes to go into hospital or the Midwifery Led Unit. Things just slow when you get in the car and arrive. Or if you are having a homebirth, the midwife arrives and it kinda interrupts your flow. Hospitals or people you do not know can cause stress, so you may find that your labour changes if your environment does.

No one is telling you what is going on. Say you are waiting for your dinner at a restaurant. It has been a while. You don’t have a clue where it is and you are getting a bit impatient. It arrives an hour later and its safe to say you are peeved! Whereas if someone had come over to you, checked in and said “sorry, there is a delay. Can I get you another drink?” you would probably feel a bit more at ease. It is the same with labour and birth – if people are doing things around you and not communicating well, that could bring things to a halt.

You have an invasive procedure. This could be a vaginal examination, a cannula inserted, blood taken, an injection, the list goes on. None of these are particularly ‘normal’ for us to have done and nobody is going to enjoy them either. With someone invading your personal space (even if you have given informed consent) it still may not be pleasant for you.
Your baby is in a pesky position. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, your baby’s head will be chin on chest, making it flexed. Sometimes, they can tilt their heads backwards or to the side. Or This changes the amount of pressure being put on to the cervix, so it may not dilate as quickly as expected. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do about this sort of thing, but changing your position can help. Check out Spinning Babies for more information.

You are tired, dehydrated or hungry. This is a biggy! If you were going to run a marathon, you wouldn’t do it without sleeping well, drinking a tonne of water and having a high carb meal beforehand. Labour uses just as much energy as running does, so why do we expect our bodies to function well without these basic human needs? Have a big bottle of water, high sugar snacks and rest in the early stages of labour if you can. You will need it and thank us for it!

The problem with labour ‘slowing’ is that it can lead to intervention. Many of the reasons labour slows down are easily resolved, but may not be given the chance.

I’ll let you know my top tips for getting back on track next week, so keep an eye out for that!

If you want to know more about how birth works and the ways you can benefit from being relaxed, there is probably a Little Birth Company Instructor near you! They span the entirety of the UK and even some in other countries. Take a look HERE or CONTACT us for more information. Happy Birthing ????

Image: Birth Becomes Her

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