Welcome back for the third and final part of “Common Labour Mistakes.” We’ve talked a lot about birth plans and choices and we’ll finish with some frequent misconceptions that can negatively impact your labour experience.
Mistake 4: You’re trying to please others during your labour
I’m a believer that the labouring person should be the primary decision maker regarding who attends the labour. If you don’t want someone there, they shouldn’t be there. It doesn’t matter who wants to be there, whether it be your mother, mother in law or other family and friends, you need to be comfortable with your birth team. You should only have people surrounding you that offer support, advocate and fit with the birth environment that you are trying to create. Birth is uncomfortable enough, you don’t want to pair that with worrying about who is in the room. You don’t have to compromise, you choose your birth team.
Mistake 5: Trying to make early labour be active labour
Understandably people get excited when labour starts. Often they want to do whatever they can to feel in control of the process and move things along. Unfortunately, you can’t make early labour turn into active labour. No amount of walking or bouncing on an exercise ball will get your body into active labour before it is ready to do so.
During early labour the best thing you can do is rest, hydrate and nourish your body. If it’s nighttime be sure to rest, even if it’s just between contractions. It could be 24 hrs or longer before active labour starts. Active labour could be another 6-12 hours and pushing can last up to 2 hrs (or longer). It’s a marathon, not a sprint so you don’t want to be exhausted before it begins. Your main focus should be rest, drinking fluids, and eating. Active labour will come, the best preparation you can do is taking care of your mind and body while you wait.
Mistake 6: Thinking your are the exception
A common mistake throughout pregnancy, labour and postpartum is to think you are the exception. Despite being told how long labour can take, many people believe they will be that person who has one contraction and the baby falls out. This is very rare, especially with first babies. You probably won’t be the exception to the typical 6-18 hour labour; however, it is good to talk to your midwife or doctor about this during late pregnancy. That way you can be reassured that you know what to look out for and what to do. This knowledge also allows you to be calm and confident through the stages of your labour. You probably aren’t the exception and thinking that you are can lead to more harm than good.
Although you can’t control many aspects of labour itself, you can prepare and make decisions that help you have the experience you’re hoping for. If you haven’t had a chance to read parts 1 and 2, go back and check them out. Let us know what you’d like us to cover next or contact us with questions. We’re here to inform, empower and support you along your parenthood journey and look forward to bringing you the information you need.
By: Althea Jones, Registered Midwife