Monday, August 15, 2011
Hoping for a Fast Labor? Think again!
There is a list I give out in Class 8 titled "Variations of Labor" and we spend the entire class discussing this list. Some of the things listed include Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM), Breech, Failure to Progress, etc. Also on this list is "Fast Labor". I always start out this class by telling everyone they will have something from this list, but you don't get to pick which one it'll be. There's always someone in the room that shouts out, "I get the fast labor!" to which everyone laughs and they fight over who gets that one!
My friend, Janet, who I referred to in last weeks post, had a very fast labor with her 2nd baby -- 3 hours to be exact -- and she received so many comments along the lines of, "Well, if my labor was that fast, I could do it without drugs too!" Comments like that total negate the incredibly hard work she did in those turbulent 3 hours.
Now, if you had a very long labor, I know we aren't getting any sympathy from you! It's great if there is a balance between fast and hard and long and slow. While there are things that will sometimes work to speed things up or slow things down, we still don't get to choose.
I don't know how many times I've heard, "Who cares how the baby gets here as long as they are healthy." We just want labor to be as fast as possible so we can get it over with.
Any time a mom is dilating quickly, contractions are right on top of another. She gets very little break, if any. Now, hindsight is always 20/20. A mom having a fast labor doesn't know she's having a fast labor - especially if her last labor was 30 hours. She's thinking "I can't do this for 28 more hours!"
Some of you have had a fast labor and you know it was out of your control. It was like a roller coaster ride that you couldn't get off of and just had to hang on until the end. When you get off the ride, it's all a blur -- the racing heart, the just wanting it to be over, the nausea, the fear. Generally, when women have a baby super fast, they just can't believe it when it's over, also a blur. Most of them will say that they wish it had been longer and they got to enjoy their labor more, to use some of the techniques they learned in class. They missed out on enjoying the "putsy-putsy" stage, as Dr. Bradley called it, with their spouse. The processing of a fast labor is unique.
It's hard to explain to a woman about to start labor all the reasons not to hope for a fast labor. I've seen women hope for a slower labor, only to have a fast one! Since you don't get to choose the pace of your labor, I don't want to scare anyone, I just am hoping to help some moms to see that maybe a fast labor isn't all that it's chalked up to be. Let's show some respect to those that had super fast labors. They were hard and intense.
A side note about fast labors: Mom is more likely to tear when the labor is fast because she doesn't have as much time to stretch. This is also more common with smaller babies that have a tendency to shoot through the birth canal. Big babies and longer labors ain't so bad after all, my friends.
Some quick tips if you are having a fast labor:
Labor on your hands and knees. This takes the baby's head off your cervix and may help slow things down a bit.
Get in the water. Even if it doesn't slow contractions down, they will at least feel different and more tolerable in water than on land.
If the baby is coming through the birth canal fast, lie on your side. It lessens the tension on the perineum and makes you less likely to tear.
Enjoy that labor. It belongs to you and your baby. You only get to experience it once. Don't wish it away by hoping it goes by super fast.
I have to end this post with the same picture I opened with, simply because it totally makes me laugh. Labor is a roller coaster ride. Embrace the thrill!