Labor induction is becoming more and more routine in many hospitals it seems, and I wanted to take the chance to partner with the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices to share my labor stories. Labor does begin on its own, and when it does, childbirth is easier with fewer risks of complications. Here are my stories.
Steady Labor After False Labor
With my first-born son, I had a round of “false labor.” The “is this it?” turned into an all-day festival of me eagerly walking, trying to force something to happen. Thankfully my health-care provider was very patient and reminded me that I was still a week and a half from my estimated due date and that first-time mothers typically have longer gestation periods.
While there is some debate about whether 40 weeks is the true average for pregnant women, what is not debatable is the fact that first-time mothers average 41 weeks and 1 day* in their pregnancies. For this reason, I wasn’t willing to induce because I knew my baby was still growing and needed that extra time to be ready for the world.
Evan’s labor begin in earnest exactly one week later and this time labor contractions did not slow down and stop. They progressed in an undeniable pattern, picking up in strength and intensity, until he was born 16 hours later. A great, average first-time birth. A normal birth.
Rapid Onset Labor
Sometimes labor begins very quickly, almost seeming to skip the entire early stage. The easy part. This is what happened for me during Brianna’s birth. Her labor began with several days of non-progressive contractions because she was in a posterior position.
Sometimes regular contractions that are not true labor (causing cervical changes and ending in the birth of the baby) are simply God’s way of getting that baby into a good birthing position. Had I forced things, my labor would have been not only much more painful for me, but also more stressful for the baby. Posterior births can certainly be done, but it’s generally agreed that they are more likely to cause back labor and need assisted delivery options. It’s better for mom and baby both when the baby is in an optimal position and sometimes it just takes time to make that happen.
Brianna’s labor began in earnest very rapidly. I woke Thursday morning, kissed my husband goodbye, sent him off to work and settled down for another day of mild contractions. But an hour later I was calling my husband on the phone. Come. Home. Now. He hurried home, we called the midwife and Brianna was in our arms less than three hours later. Another normal birth.
Labor Sometimes Begins Past the Due Date
With my third baby, I assumed my labor would begin a couple of days before the ultrasound due date, as all my other births had done. You know what happens when you assume, right? Just when you think you have it all figured out, God throws you a curve ball. My third labor did not begin until one week past the estimate due date. I couldn’t believe it!
When Micah arrived after an amazing and perfect 10-hour labor, we had him checked for any signs of post-maturity (being “overdue”) and there were none. His skin still had vernix on it, the cheese-like substance that coats their skin to protect it from the amniotic fluid. His feet and ears all indicated he was a perfect term baby boy. If I had induced even one week before my estimated due date he would have been far too early for what his growth curve was and what he needed. Another normal, though totally different, labor.
For more information about the onset of labor, labor induction and how it can impact a healthy birthing process, check out the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #1.
*Mittendorf, R., Williams, M.A., Berkey, C.S., & Cotter, P.F. The length of uncomplicated human gestation. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1990 June, 75 (6): 929-932.
Resource – One of my favorite resources for checking out the scientific support (or lack thereof) behind the policies, procedures and medical interventions is “The Thinking Woman’s Guide” by Henci Goer. I consider it a must-read for pregnant women.
**This article shares the personal story of one pregnant women and is not intended to provide medical advice. Women are encouraged to work with their medical health care professionals during their pregnancy, labor and birthing experience.**