All pregnant women dream about a quick, simple labour followed by cuddles with your newborn. According to the Royal College of Midwives in the UK, a relatively short labour also means you need less medical intervention to deliver your baby.
Notes Mervi Jokinen, a midwife at the Royal College of Midwives, "A long labour is not a cause for concern, but it can be distressing and tiring." Plus, the longer you are in labour, the more likely your contractions will accelerate, which can lead to further intervention.
Virginia Beckett, a consultant obstetrician at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK explains that the length of your labour depends on many factors, including the strength of your contractions, the shape of your pelvis and your baby's position. So, can you speed up the delivery process? Here are six ways you can try to help things progress.
1. Sleep in
Getting quality snooze time can be a struggle during pregnancy, but the more shuteye you get, the better. According to University of California scientists, mums- to-be who have more than six hours’ sleep a night tend to have shorter labours.
“Quality rest gives you the energy and stamina you need for labour,” Jokinen points out. Make yourself comfortable by lying on your side with a bolster or pillows between your legs and under your back, keep semi- upright with extra pillows, which will also reduce the chance of heartburn.
2. Keep active
You’ll have an easier time giving birth if you are active during your pregnancy. In fact, a University of Vermont study found that women who exercised two to three times a week had a shorter labour than women who camped out on the sofa. If you’re not used to working out, start by walking for 15 minutes, two to three times a week. “Walk fast, but not so fast that you can’t talk,” advises Elizabeth Kamm, a pre- and postnatal personal trainer. On a scale of one to 10, if one is relaxing and 10 is pushing your body to its limit, aim for six.
3. Support from other mums
You might feel happy just having your man by your side in the delivery suite, but research by the University of Toronto suggests that continuous support from a fellow mum can lessen your labour and reduce the need for medical intervention. Antenatal teacher Barbara Kott points out, “A friend who has had children herself is helpful because she knows what to expect. A caring birth partner can help you stay calm and positive, as well as encourage you to try different positions.”
Page 1 of 2
4. Stay stress-free
While it’s natural to feel nervous about giving birth, these jitters can also prolong labour. “When you're stressed, your body produces adrenaline, which interferes with labour hormones oxytocin and progesterone, slowing down your contractions,” explains Jokinen. The key is to distract yourself during contractions. Counting backwards from 100 is simple but surprisingly effective. Being prepped will also ease your anxiety, so try pregnancy yoga, go to antenatal classes, and write a birth plan.
5. Keep peeing
After spending the past few months making frequent toilet trips, you'd expect this to continue. But when you're in labour, the force of your contractions can actually make it difficult to tell when you need to pee. It’s important to make regular toilet trips, though, as these could actually help things progress. “A full bladder can slow labour down by pressing on the birth canal and obstructing your baby’s descent,” Kott explains. “It can also make your contractions feel more painful.” Remember to empty your bladder regularly — aim to go every two hours. Your birth partner can also remind you to go to the bathroom.”
6. Mobility is key
Many women instinctively move around in labour, and with good reason — being upright and mobile can shorten labour by up to an hour. Indeed, your midwife will also encourage you to stay active because gravity helps bubba's head descend and move into the right position for birth. “When a contraction begins, breathe out, drop your shoulders to release tension, and move your lower body rhythmically as if you're belly dancing, holding onto your hubby for support,” Kott suggests. To help your baby out, you need to be upright, lean forward and keep your legs open.
Page 2 of 2