Every labor is different. While there is no way to know in advance if yours will be easy or more difficult, or if you will require interventions or not; there are many things you can do to increase your chances of a simple, uncomplicated, “easy” labor.
Often when labors are more difficult, longer, or require interventions like cesarean; it is due to what doctors would call a “ malposition of the fetus”. This simply means that your baby is having a hard time aligning and fitting through your pelvis. Just like trying to put a square peg in a square hole, baby’s head must be properly aligned to easily slips through the opening of your pelvis. While most babies find their way through the pelvis, turning as they descend, some (about 13%) do not, and result in either a longer more difficult delivery, or require interventions like cesarean.
‘Optimal Fetal Positioning’ (OFP) is a theory developed by a midwife, Jean Sutton, and Pauline Scott, an antenatal teacher, who found that the mother’s position and movement could influence the way her baby lay in the womb in the final weeks of pregnancy.
Optimal Fetal Position is based on three factors. Balance, Gravity and Movement. The goal is to have a baby with a tucked chin, presenting the smallest part of the head toward the front and facing the mothers back for delivery.
is achieved through relaxation and release of the pelvic muscles and ligaments so that they are symmetrical. Discomfort is a sign of imbalance, and is very common in women who carry a heavy purse or a toddler on one hip, or perhaps have an old athletic injury that they compensate for. The best way to maintain uterine balance is to get regular chiropractic care. Yoga and belly dancing also offer an opportunity to release chronic tension and tone imbalances. Take a moment first thing each morning to asses your body and relax any muscle spasms or support loose muscles.
is affecting your baby’s position at all times. Be conscious of how your posture is affecting the way gravity acts on your baby. Your baby’s head is the heaviest part of its body and the upper back (shoulder blades) are the second. With that in mind, you should avoid slouching or semi-reclining too often. Standing, sitting straight and tall (just like your mother told you to) or slightly forward, or hands and knees are all positions that enable gravity to move or keep your baby in a good position. This is not to say that you should never lie down or slouch, just keep active and don’t be a couch potato!
is vital to keep your four pelvic joints flexible for labor. Movement also helps gravity work. (ever thrust a bottle of ketchup to get the last bit?) Keep active in postures that encourage optimal fetal positioning. Swimming (belly down!), yoga, dance, walking and doing circles or figure eights while sitting on a birth ball are all great ways to keep moving and flexible while in a good posture. Try to get on your hands and knees at least once a day and do “cat/cow” or pelvic rocking. Imagine your baby in the hammock of your belly as you rock it to sleep.
Doing these things is no guarantee of an easy labor, but they certainly can help! And if you do find yourself facing a long or difficult labor – keep these same three factors in mind….
2. Use gravity to your advantage – get off you back! Try hands and knees, squatting, or sitting on a birth ball.
3. Move! Walk, slow dance, rock in a rocking chair, get on hands and knees, change position often.
Remember, your body was made to birth. Trust the design of your body and do what comes naturally. Your baby’s birthday will be one of the very best days of your life.
About the Author:
Amy Peterson, CD-DONA, CLC of Hound Hill Doula
About Healing Hands Chiropractic:
Healing Hands is a family wellness center that offers family chiropractic care, acupuncture, cognitive-behavioral therapy, reiki & aromatherapy, massage therapy, La Leche League breastfeeding groups and pregnancy & birth classes. To learn more about Dr. Jessica Caruso and Healing Hands Chiropractic please visit www.HealingHandsNH.com or call (603)434-3456.