Monday, December 20, 2010

L is for Laboring Down

I was fortunate to have attended another birth last night. As happy as I was to be there, I am also happy to be taking at least a month off from doula-ing now. Being on call all the time is stressful and I am in serious need of sleep (I should be sleeping now instead of blogging but that's another story!)
Anyway, I won't bore you with all the details of the birth story. It is not my story to tell and I know not everyone loves birth stories as much as I do.
What I do want to write about is the concept of "Laboring Down". Most people think that once you get to 10 centimeters dilated, it's time to push and voila, the baby is here.
But not only does a woman's cervix need to dilate, the baby also needs to move down into the pelvis in order to be born. When a woman starts to feel pressure and an urge to push, we know the baby is moving down into the birth canal. Unfortunately, an epidural can numb the sensations of pressure and also impede the mother's ability to push efficiently.
Which is why I loved what my client's doctor did. Once she determined that my client's cervix was fully dilated, she turned down the epidural and told us to wait until her feeling returns to her legs. She also wanted to wait for the baby to move down into the pelvis on its own, thereby reducing the time she would need to push. This is what is referred to as laboring down. It took almost an hour and a half, and as the epidural wore off and my client started feeling the contractions again, she started to feel a bit anxious to get this over with and begin pushing. We encouraged her to wait till the pressure in her pelvis felt stronger. At 3 40 am, all of a sudden, she felt an overwhelming need to push. The baby was born at 3 57 am. It's amazing for a first time mom to have pushed for such a short time. Part of the reason was that we let her body do the work in its own and have the baby move down without having to exert herself unnecessarily.
Unfortunately not all doctors will give a woman time to let the baby labor down and that is a shame. You can spare a mom the exhaustion of a long pushing phase by being patient and following the body's cues.
Just another example of how a woman's body is designed to give birth and doesn't need our interventions 99 percent of the time!

For more information about Laboring Down and other good tips about the second stage (pushing phase) of labor check out this article.

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