Factors that influence the progress of childbirth

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For the majority of healthy women, childbirth progresses spontaneously without complications. There are things that you can do to encourage this. Understanding what can interfere with it is important. You should have this conversation with your Obstetrician in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Factors influencing the progress of childbirth include the following:

Physical factors:

The position of your baby is an important factor in the proper progress of labour. It is easier for babies to navigate in a position in which they are head down and they face your spine. This is called the anterior position.  In the last few weeks of pregnancy avoid lying on your back. When resting or sleeping, lay on your side as far to your stomach as you comfortably can. This can encourage your baby to move into this position.

As contractions begin, choose positions of comfort. Use gravity to promote the downward movement of the baby. If you find it difficult to move during a contraction, relax as much as possible during the contraction, breathe slowly and deeply, and move when it is over.

Emotional Factors

If you are experiencing fear or a lack of support it can release hormones, such as adrenalin, which can slow labor contractions. When you are in labour, you need to let go and release control of labor to your body’s own rhythm. For this, you need to feel safe with your doctor and with those who are there to support you. It is important to discuss any concerns in advance with your doctor, so that you go into labour feeling safe, confident in your own ability and supported.

Research suggests that the presence of a partner or other supportive person can help have a smooth labour and delivery with less dependence on pain relief medication. Human touch with back rub or even acupressure can help promote contractions or ease the pain.

Environment can play a role in the progress of labour. Request for an environment in which you feel comfortable, such as softer lights and music that you enjoy and creates positive emotions.

Water therapy

Your doctor may suggest the use of a warm water tub to cope with labour. Water therapy has been shown to shorten labour if it is used while in active labour. Contractions may become weaker or less frequent with water therapy if it is used before you go into active labour, but if you have had early labour contractions for a long time, water therapy may help give it a break.

 Pain Relief in Labour

You should make the decision to use medications or other interventions during labor carefully and ask questions about this during your antenatal checkups. You must be aware of the options, the benefits, potential risks and what will happen if you waited or did not use the medication.

 There may be factors that are not in your control that can influence the progress of labour such as the size of your baby, a multiple pregnancy, the size of your pelvis or the fact that you may have had a previous Caeserian section. You should discuss this during your antenatal visits with your doctor.

It is important to go into labour with confidence, trusting your obstetrician to be there to give you the best experience.