How Long Does Birth Take & Should I Try to Speed it Up?

How long does birth take and should I speed it up?

Lesley is our My Expert Midwife midwife, and here she gives us her thoughts on labour and birth and questions why we want to speed up the process:

I've always been intrigued by our need to speed up labour; clary sage, reflexology, walking etc etc...the list seems endless! I've always practised in a much more primitive way. Whenever I'm faced with a dilemma around the process of birth I ask myself 'what would a woman have done 200,000 years ago' and 'what is nature's plan'? Both questions have served me well.

Take for example the issue of poo in labour: midwives and obstetricians will fastidiously cover the anus with an 'anal pad' in fact as a student we were trained on exactly how to and where to hold this wadded swab. I quickly began to question this 'design flaw' of nature. 'What if nature didn't get this wrong?, what if nature intended baby's face to be covered in mum's poo? What if that enables baby's sterile gut to be colonised by mums lovely friendly bacteria? Nowadays we accept that poo is an integral part of birth, so much so that we now ask the question of waterbirth; what if the poo is being too diluted (it isn't, don't worry!!) but how times change.

Another example is speeding up labour, walking, clary sage etc etc. Many babies, especially those back to back need much longer to adapt their head position and to modify their skull bones in labour. By trying to speed up this process we may, inadvertently, cause more problems than we're trying to solve.

If your labour is stopping and starting ask yourself 'why? Is there a problem I need to sort with walking? Or...is my body doing what it was designed to do? Rest, eat and drink!! That's all you need to do in labour, your body will do the rest, trust it. Xx

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