A few days ago, the question came up on Facebook: “What can I do to have a fast birth?” It got me thinking… So here are 10 tips to have a faster birth:
1. Avoid induction. Even so called natural induction, or “encouraging baby to come” or “nudging your body” or whatever euphemism that you use. It’s all the same thing – trying to make it happen. When you try to make baby come before the baby and your body are ready it makes things longer. While there are no absolutes, I think it speaks volumes that as a veteran doula I have never attended a spontaneous birth longer than 24 hours, while I’ve attended dozens of inductions that are in the 30-40 hour (or more) range!
2. Try to eliminate any fears that you have about birth. Or about postpartum. And I definitely do not mean “try not to think about your fears” – listen to those fears, and for the ones you can do something about, do it! If you’re worried about being able to handle the birth process, take a good class, hire a doula and practice skills that will help. (Hmmmm….sounds like a Birth Plan of Action!) Worried about motherhood? Make sure you have people caring for you postpartum who can help you learn and grow as a mother. Being well supported for both birth and postpartum goes a long way toward reducing fears, because you know you don’t have to do it alone.
3. Surround yourself with a birth team you know and trust. If you don’t like your doctor or midwife, CHANGE. Change in *this* pregnancy, don’t think “I’ll go elsewhere next time.” Do not allow any people around you who don’t believe in you. Don’t invite your mother-in-law to your birth if you don’t like her. Do not allow your mom to bully her way into your birth. Hire a support team that is a good fit rather than the cheapest or whoever will work for free. There are studies that show having doula support can make for a shorter labor! On the flip side, I’ve seen many, many labors putter around until a certain person left, then pick right up and soon mom has a baby in her arms!
4. Stay active during pregnancy. A body that is in good shape can work more effectively than a body in poor condition. You don’t have to be on a full regimen, just be moving and active as much as you can.
5. Stay busy and productive as labor approaches. The last thing in the world you want to do is sit on the couch and wait for labor to begin. This can raise your anxiety – and those hormones do nothing to help labor along.
6. Don’t go to your birthplace too soon. Get into a really good rhythm of strong contractions before you move to your birth place. Just the act of picking of and moving can slow or stop your labor. And moving to the hospital certainly won’t make you be at the next level, either!
7. Move around in labor – Moms who stay upright, spend time walking, swaying, sitting on the birth ball, etc. tend to make better progress than moms laying in bed. Listen to your body’s signals and follow them! I’ve seen moms do some very unusual, instinctual things that moved things along nicely. Moms who are completely comfortable with those around them tend to not need any direction, they just do what needs to be done.
8. Relax – tension, bracing yourself, and fighting labor can make labor harder, slower, and more painful. Learn and practice relaxation techniques until you get really good at it. A good quality childbirth class is a great place to learn some techniques, but you’ll still need to practice outside of class all the way up to delivery. Getting close to your partner and getting the warm fuzzy romantic feelings flowing helps you to relax, and as a bonus, helps the labor hormones flow, too.
9. Eat and drink in labor It’s work. That’s why it’s called “labor” – a marathon runner wouldn’t dream of doing all that without replenishing nutrients and fluids. Laboring moms should eat and drink as they feel hunger and thirst to keep their bodies working effectively.
10. Get lucky.
Really, *this* is the biggest factor, and it isn’t one you can control. We don’t always know why some women have speedier labors than others. All you can do is eliminate the things that might slow or impede your labor and see what happens.