Forty weeks is a long time, but you may feel like your little soul inside is happy to stay warm. If you begin to experience some signs of nearing labor like a dilating cervix, occasional contractions, but the labor does not occur – you need to try ways to speed up the labor process. Speeding up the labor means trying to push the delivery process gently and safely. Though some methods do not work, unless your body is ready, but you can still try to make the process safer. Read our post and learn all about speeding up labor here.
When Does Labor Officially Begin?
Your labor starts when you experience:
- Painful and regular contractions
- A dilating cervix
You will notice the above signs when you begin the first phase of the labor. Though it may surprise you, you may have painful tightenings before reaching the point of labor. You may stay awake all the night because of the pains if the labor is on the way. It is quite common in your first pregnancy.
How Long Is A Normal Labor
The average length of the active first phase of the labor for first pregnancy is 8 hours. It can be shorter or longer. But it will not be longer than 18 hours.
If this is not your first pregnancy, it will be quicker than the first one. On an average, the active phase lasts for 5 hours. It will not last beyond 12 hours.
The active second phase, i.e pushing phase of labor will not take more than 3 hours, or it will account for 2 hours if it is not your first pregnancy.
Remember, quick labor is not at all good for both you and your baby. Quick labors can cause both physical and emotional complications. Also, a slow labor can exhaust you and your baby.
What Is A Slow Labor?
An active labor may be an hour or so of little progress, followed immediately by bleeding or faster progress. What really matters is how the labor progresses for several hours.
Your midwife will examine the progression of labor every 4 hours. She will also conduct an internal examination to check for the dilation of the cervix. She will also listen to the heartbeat of the baby using a Pinard Sthetoscope or a handheld Doppler.
The 4 hour examination offers a complete picture of how the labor is progressing and may reduce the chances of undergoing a caesarean. Frequent assessments may not help your midwife detect your labor.
If you had any previous concerns with your pregnancy, then you may require a continuous assessment. It is also recommended to get continuous assessments if you had complications with your first pregnancy like meconium (baby’s poo) in the waters.
They will place 2 electronic sensors on the bump to measure contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. They are left on the bump throughout the labor process. Your midwife will still examine the cervix every four hours. If the cervix is not dilating at a rate it should usually dilate, i.e. 0.2 inches an hour, then the chance of speeding up the labor increases. The process is called augmentation of labor.
What Might Be The Reasons Behind A Slow Labor?
There is no particular reason behind slow labors. But, your labor may be slow if:
- The baby’s position is not ideal
- You are exhausted or dehydrated
- The contractions are not strong and are infrequent
- You get anxious or scared, and these emotions interfere with the labor hormones.
- You have android pelvis (tall and narrow pelvis) that causes the baby to settle in a posterior position. One out of five women will complain an android pelvis.
How To Speed Up Labor?
Some of these ways should help your labor go little faster than normal.
If labor doesn’t start at the right expected time, your midwife may then suggest breaking your water to speed the labor. However, it is not recommended at the beginning phase of the labor since the risk of infections is high. If the active phase of the labor starts, then breaking the waters will help the delivery be smooth. It will also cut short the labor time by an hour.
Breaking the waters is also known as an amniotomy. During the procedure, you are made to lie on the bed. Your midwife or the doctor will use an amniohook to prick the end of the amniotic membrane. By tearing the membrane, the amniotic fluid begins to leak out. It spills out a lot of water wile specials towels are lid to collect the waters. The waters continue to leak in small amounts until the labor completes.
Once the waters are broken, you will notice slight contractions. Now is the time you should work hard on relaxation and breathing exercises.
If breaking your waters procedure will not work to speed up your labor, a hormone drip method is suggestible. It contains an artificial labor hormone, Syntocinon (similar to oxytocin) which causes effective contractions. Typically, the midwife will place electronic sensors on the tummy to check on the baby’s heartbeat. Your doctor or midwife may also attach a fetal scalp electrode (small clip) over the baby’s head. It provides a more accurate reading of the heartbeat than the sensor.
Your midwife monitors you continuously because the hormone can over stimulate the womb. It could cause frequent and strong contractions, therefore distressing your baby. You may also require pain-relieving medications to cope up with the contractions. To overcome the severe pain, your doctor may administer an epidural before giving the hormonal drip.
Self Help Measures To Speed Up Your Labor:
You can also consider some self help options when the contractions are slow since it is best to leave things happen by themselves. You can try some natural techniques for speeding up the labor, which include:
- Do not just lie on the bed and stay idle. Move around and be upright as it may strengthen contractions.
- Do not keep your bladder full. Not a problem, go to the toilet frequently. A heavy bladder will slow down the labor process.
- Take a warm bath to abate the need for epidural.
- Make some love with your partner, have a cuddle and go for a breast massage. These actions will stimulate the body to release oxytocin hormone that will cause contractions.
- If the scan determines the baby is lying on back to back position, then your midwife may suggest you to lie on the side. It rotates the baby to a better labor position.
- Hypnosis and acupuncture also helps to speed up the labor.
Make sure you check with your doctor before you initiate to do any of the above ways. In fact, they will be the best source to speed up the labor depending on your situation.
Coping With A Long Labor:
It would be tiresome if your labor goes slowly. You need to help yourself by following some measures in order to relax with a long labor.
- Practice relaxation and breathing techniques to stay calm and focused.
- Get a back massage and foot massage from your partner.
- Try listening to your favorite music.
- Do not keep your stomach empty. Try to eat something light like toast or drink isotonic fluids to remain hydrated.
- Keep changing your positions or else late in the labor, you will not feel like walking much.
- Rock your pelvis forward during contractions so that your baby is firmly pushed down to the cervix.
- Try to calm down and get the control of your labor. Then you can feel more relaxed and less anxious, and you may have an easy labor.
What are your ways of speeding up the labor? Have you tried any or do you know any other tricks? Moms, do share your experience with us in the below comment section. Let the first time mothers get some inspiration from you.