Childbirth is tricky. You’ll never really know how it will go unless you’re already lying in the delivery room with your legs propped up. It also doesn’t matter if you’ve given birth before -- each baby's arrival is unique.
Certainly, you’ve heard birth stories that involve 20-plus hours in labor, only to be wheeled into the operating room for a C-section (CS). When you ask your doctor what happened, he’ll probably tell you that your labor didn’t progress as it normally would. You clearly remember the pain brought about by labor contractions and all the efforts you’ve put into pushing your baby out. So what happened? How did your baby get "stuck," so to speak?
1. Your baby's position
Ideally, your baby should be in a cephalic position, which puts the smallest part of the baby's head ready to exit the birth canal. If your baby is not in a cephalic position by the time you go into labor, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to undergo C-section right away. Babies whose feet or butt are headed towards the birth canal first (breech position) can sometimes be born via vaginal delivery successfully. It depends on your doctor's assessment, and, if there's too much risk, then a C-section may be prescribed.
Most babies change positions as he descends towards the pelvic area during labor. Some doctors perform certain procedures to help the baby move into the right position. But you can try the following to help baby settle into the right position as D-day nears or during labor itself, according to BabyCentre:
- Before labor, be on all fours. Adopt this position for at least 10 minutes twice a day with the goal of turning your back's baby to the front of your belly.
- Before labor, vary your positions and daytime activities and be mindful of your posture.
- During labor, try the Optimal Fetal Positioning (OFP). Lean forward and rock your pelvis during contractions. Tilt your pelvis forward, rather than back, when you're sitting.
- During labor, if you're sitting on a birthing ball, make sure your hips are higher than your knees. Sit on a cushion to make sure your bottom is not lower than your knees.
2. Your position during active labor
We've talked about the different labor positions you can do to ease labor pain and these positions do affect how your labor progresses. The ideal labor position is one that lets gravity do the work. BellyBelly.com.au reports that upright positions such as standing or squatting on hands and knees can open the pelvis up to 30 percent. So if you can still endure pain from contractions, get up, walk around, or sway to help your pelvis open up.
Lying down flat on your back or even in a reclining position can restrict a pregnant woman's ability work with her body and her baby during childbirth. If you can't move around much anymore, keep rotating your pelvis while lying down. Lay on your left side and place a pillow between your knees or lift your right knee high up on a stack of pillows. Switch to your right side and then again to your left every after 30 minutes.
3. Your choice of pain medication
If you're getting labor pain relief medication, getting it too early may interfere with your labor. With an epidural, you won't feel the contractions as strongly, and, thus, might have trouble pushing. Contractions signal you to push and aid your baby as he tries to descend down the birth canal.
If your hubby's back massages are not alleviating pain, and you want an epidural already, make sure your doctor, nurse, or doula help you into positions that could help quicken your labor. Epidurals make the lower part of your body numb, restricting your positions and movements during labor and diminishing your ability to push properly.
4. Your baby is just too big
When your baby is too big (macrosomia) or your baby's head is too big to pass through your birth canal (cephalopelvic disproportion), your doctor may want to induce labor earlier than 40 weeks. An induced labor could be a factor in shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the pelvis although it's a rare occurrence. The contractions of an induced labor could be too strong that it prevents the baby to slowly ease himself through the birth canal.
What can you do? Eat healthily, stay hydrated, and try not to gain weight outside the recommended limit, which is 25 to 30 pounds. Going to regular prenatal checkups can help you monitor your weight with the help of your doctor.
5. You have pelvic issues
There are women who have pelvises that are too small for a baby to pass through or offer less room for a baby to pass through because of its shape. But it does not automatically mean you'll need a C-section. These conditions have not stopped women from delivering vaginally without problems.
What can you do? Exercise is also a crucial factor that could help you still deliver your baby via vaginal delivery. Spinning Babies suggests walking, regular stretching or pregnancy yoga helps to align muscles, ensuring that your body could make space for your baby to find the right position to pass through your birth canal.
When labor isn’t progressing, your doctor should closely monitor you and your baby. If your baby is already in distress, his heart beat is weakening due to lack of oxygen. Some instances that could cause fetal distress: the umbilical cord is wrapped around your baby’s neck or your baby’s first poop has been released in the amniotic fluid and he had inhaled it, to name a few. Fetal distress suggests urgency, and it’s likely that you’d need to deliver your baby via assisted birth or C-section.
This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.