Long labour…

What is worrying you?  Being in labour for days? Not being sure this is ‘it’?  Whatever your worry it is probably normal.

Sometimes labour takes a while to get started, it could be that your baby needs time to get slowly into a good position for birth, it might be that you are not feeling quite ready and you need a little more time to prepare to welcome your baby earthside, or you might be in a state of warming up your body for a fast active labour.  It can help to think not about the time it is taking, but to concentrate on getting to your physical peak for an easy labour.  Resting and nourishing your body during this time is essential, your body and baby are doing the right things to slowly get ready.  You can really help by acknowledging that even though it might be uncomfortable, you are not yet in the active phase of labour, and that slowing down, resting and relaxing can be as effective (sometimes more) in speeding things up as trying physical activity and gravity, which can sometimes tire you and make labour harder work than it needs to be!  So, switch off your logical head, relax in the bath, take a gentle walk in nature, watch a happy or a belly-laugh film, rest, sleep, eat and most of all indulge in a little loving!

Think warming up, not over-training!

“A proper warm up has three purposes, one is to start the metabolic process, two is to reduce injuries by increasing muscle elasticity and thirdly to protect the heart.”

Adarian Barr

When we exercise, if we want to avoid injury, we warm up, and we wear warm clothing to keep our muscles warm until the very moment we start.  Why?  Because warm muscles have better blood flow so more oxygen and more fuel, because warm muscles are less likely to sieze up or tear, because that increased blood flow removes waste products faster and makes cramp less likely.  When the temperature in the body rises enzyme activity in the cells increases, giving an improved performance after warming up.  Warming up also increases nerve activity, starts your endorphins (your own pain-limiters) and prepares your muscles for work, athletics trainers believe that you can increase your muscle capacity by 10 – 15%.  Wouldn’t that help in labour?

Warming up affects both respiratory and blood circulation, preparing them for hard physical activity. Your pulse-rate goes up and oxygen uptake increases.  You start to sweat, giving faster heat release to protect your baby from overheating.   A lack of warm-up often results in injuries for athletes, it isn’t much different for a woman in the job of labouring!  When the muscles are cool and at rest they are not as flexible as when they are warm and injuries can occur more easily, pain, exhaustion and tissue tearing can all result!
If you want to read what the RCM (Royal College of Midwives) Campaign for Normal Birth has to say on the subject of long labours, .