Read this article if you are hoping for a smooth, progressing labor and want to do some activities early in labor to be reassured. Or, if labor doesn’t start or progress as you expect.
The surges of the womb, commonly called contractions, help position the baby by rotating and flexing baby’s head — if the muscles and ligaments don’t interfere by some significant tightness (or looseness).
- Sifting with the woven Rebozo (Mexican scarf) between contractions.
- Do a forward-leaning inversion during 1-3 contractions (Three if you are in a long labor pattern; one if you have given birth before or aren’t sure you need help to progress, but just want to do something).
- Do a sidelying release (pelvic floor release) on both sides.
Sisters have girlfriends; here are some more effective balance activities:
Supporting balance for women who are lying down is easy with a diaphragmatic release (aka, abdominal release). This is a myofascial technique that a birth partner can learn quickly.
Women who are standing can have a similar myofascial release with the standing sacral release, or standing release.
Another technique for balance is Dip the Hip.
When a poorly-positioned baby is too low in a tight pelvis to rotate to a better position, we can soften the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis to give the pelvis more flexibility. This may allow baby to come down.
Here’s an example of the importance of balance when it comes time to push:
I wanted to share with you an experience at a birth. VBAC mom whose first birth had gone to c-section after 3 hours of pushing. She seems to be in good physical shape so I was curious about the real ‘why’…. As she was in early labor I … noticed that she had a distinct s- shape at the crease of her buttocks. I also began to observe as she moved around that she possibly had an android pelvis. Of course, I was not there to diagnosis her so I just did what I do, I am a doula so just supporting. She had no back labor at all but when the time came for pushing she immediately put my hand on her sacrum and asked me to apply pressure. She pushed mostly in the side-lying position (did not want to try the side lying release at that point although we had done it before) and each time she had the urge to push she would move my hand to a place on her sacrum and occasionally lower lumbar.
Baby was born vaginally. Later the Doctor made a point to say to me on several occasions, “What you were doing was REALLY helpful”,
I am so thankful for your class allowing me to become observant of more of the structural physiology of birth and I really think that the doctor saw something in her pelvis but didn’t want to say it directly. – Allison, Doula, 2014
Gravity, its not just a good idea, it’s the law.
Gravity and Movement does help and will be enough for some women. Other women will need help to overcome a tight muscle or short ligament to achieve a natural labor.
You can rest using gravity, too, you don’t have to stand all the time! Read Rest Smart to find how to rest in ways that actually help labor to continue and not stall out.
How about sitting on a birthing ball or a birth stool? Don’t have a birth stool? Oh, yes you do! Every home and hospital room has a porcelain birthing stool. Sit for three contractions and then stand for one. This keeps swelling in your tender places to a minimum .
When you are up, make sure you’re standing with knees soft (not locked) and leaning over a friend, a counter-top, etc., for support.
Movement helps reduce pain and can help baby go lower.
When you do feel the need to move, get up! Move around. Be vertical. It’s surprising how often women find being up and moving makes labor more manageable than lying on their hips or their back in bed.
You’ve released some constriction by bringing your body into better balance. You are being mindful about gravity-friendly positions. Now you may need to move your pelvis to help your baby move down.
- Do circles on a birth ball.
- Put some music on. Put some meaning into those circles!
- Grab your doula and dance the hula!
- Do some belly dancer moves!
If movement doesn’t work, see if baby is truly engaged. Do those techniques.
Then, return to balancing activities. See the article on long labors in the “What to do when….” article on how to overcome a stall in labor. Better yet, possibly prevent a long labor using the resources in Professional Help.