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15 Things Women Do During Labor That Makes It Harder Than It Needs To Be (And 5 Ways To Make It Easier)

Every woman's labor is different, and there's no way to know what kind of experience a woman will have until it's her turn to give birth. However, there are some universal truths about labor that can help guide women through the birthing experience.

Even though it may not feel like it, women have a certain amount of control in most birthing situations, and they can use this to make the experience easier or more difficult. How a woman labors and how she handles worry, pain, and the unknown can all have an effect on how easy or hard it is for her to give birth.

There are definitely times when mom does everything possible and birth is still very difficult, but there are other times when women go into labor without knowing what choices are best for an easier birthing experience. This list will help women understand what makes labor harder and some steps that can be taken for a smoother experience.

Doctors, midwives, hospitals, and birthing centers should be on board with plans that make labor easier. If they are not, mom can present the research to explain why she is making the choices she is so everyone helping her birth will be able to help her find the easiest route.

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20 Makes it Harder: Delivering on Her Back

Via: bundoo.com

Almost every movie that shows a woman in labor shows her on her back with her legs in the medical stirrups. While this is a routine way to give birth, it's not the only way. In fact, it may be the least helpful because of how it actually fights against gravity and keeps mom immobile.

Women who receive epidurals can't walk around, but if a woman doesn't opt for medication, trying different birthing positions may shorten labor and help alleviate pain. Even if mom wants an epidural, she should try different positions for as long as possible before the medication is administered.

19 Makes it Harder: Not Knowing Her Needs

Via: bundoo.com

Labor is not the time for mom to try to figure out how she handles pain. She needs to know beforehand what she wants when stressed or hurting, as well as if she wants people around to help or if she prefers the least amount of interaction possible. Trying to figure this out after contractions start may slow down labor since it will add stress to an already difficult process.

While pregnant, mom should look back on times she's been in pain or had to endure mentally strenuous challenges. What helps? What doesn't? She needs to communicate this with her partner or doula so there is a plan of action before labor begins.

18 Makes it Harder: Letting Worry Take Over

Via: bundoo.com

It's normal to be scared at the thought of labor, but it's not helpful to let this feeling take control of the experienced. Labor is a painful, but still natural, process that works best when mom can lean into the experience and let her worries go. It's okay to acknowledge concerns, but when they take over, mom may find her body stalling because of stress.

Mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises can help mom be in the moment, acknowledging the myriad of emotions she's feeling without letting them take control of how she responds. Practice these techniques before labor starts to be ready when the panic tries to rise.

17 Makes it Easier: Stay Mobile

Via: bundoo.com

As much as it's possible, stay mobile. Walk, stand, or find ways to move around. This will help alleviate pain, move the baby further down the birth canal, and speed up labor. One of the first things doctors do when women go into premature labor is put them on bed rest, so why would a woman who actually wants to be in labor do the same thing a woman who wants to stop labor is told to do? It doesn't make sense.

Make sure the OB is okay with movement during labor so he or she won't try to derail the plan to stay mobile.

16 Makes it Harder: Allowing People at the Birth She Doesn't Want There

Via: bundoo.com

The birthing room is not meant to be a congregation area. The only people in the room need to be the ones mom has approved, and they need to leave promptly if she asks them to.

While immediate and extended family usually can be around during the labor process, many women don't want them to be. It's hard to labor unselfconsciously if there are tons of people staring or trying to make polite conversation. Mom needs to let everyone know who is in and who is out before the big day, and the hospital or birthing center staff can help make sure no one comes in who isn't supposed to be there.

15 Makes it Harder: Not Moving

Via: bundoo.com

Unless absolutely necessary, it's not a good idea to become immobile when labor starts. Walking, squatting, or dancing can help move the baby down the birth canal, and that can hasten the birth. Being strapped to a fetal heart rate monitor and on her back most of labor will likely make mom's labor slow down. If it slows to a crawl, interventions may be required.

Talk to the OB or midwife early on and let them know that moving during labor is desired. Doctors who have seen the research often support this approach, and those who have not need to so they can understand the benefits to mom and the baby.

14 Makes it Harder: Not Eating

Via: bundoo.com

Labor is work, and not eating while in labor means mom will likely run out of energy before the baby arrives. Though the recommendation used to be for women to abstain from food during labor, that advice is now outdated. It's unlikely a woman will need to be knocked unconscious due to an emergency, and even if she is the risk of aspirating on food within the body is minimal. Most doctors now agree that the benefits of eating outweigh the risks of not eating.

Unless otherwise instructed, don't skimp on the snacks for some labor fuel because it can make a huge difference.

13 Makes It Easier: Bringing Snacks

Via: bundoo.com

Don't show up with a lasagna straight out of the oven, but do show up with some protein-packed snack foods that will keep mom fueled during the hard work of labor. Having snacks may keep mom from exhaustion, and this can help keep labor on track. When it's finally time to push, having food in her system could help mom do the hard work without tiring out too quickly.

Choose snacks wisely, and make sure they pack plenty of healthy calories instead of just being no benefits fillers. Mom wants this food to be the fuel that keeps her body running.

12 Makes it Harder: Going In Too Early

Via: bundoo.com

It's tempting to call the doctor and head to the hospital the minute contractions start. After waiting for nine months to meet the baby, it's hard to wait another second before rushing in for medical care. However, going to the hospital too early is a mistake. Unless there's a problem or mom has been instructed to come in early, she can have those beginning contractions at home while she walks around and finishes nesting.

When women are admitted to the hospital too early, it's possible that unnecessary interventions will follow. Mom may receive an epidural too quickly or be pumped full of Pitocin, increasing contraction pain for her and the baby.

11 Makes it Harder: Relying Only on Dad as the Birth Partner

Dad does not have to be mom's everything when it comes to birth. While some partners are amazing birth coaches who know just what mom needs to thrive during labor, others are not. That's okay. That's what doulas are for.

If dad is not the best birthing coach or if he is squeamish about the entire birthing process, mom may want to have back up to support her. A friend, a family member, or a trained doula can all step in and offer mom support if dad isn't able. Relying on the wrong person to coach mom through the pain and stress of labor can make the entire experience much more difficult than it needs to be.

10 Makes it Harder: Allowing Pitocin or Other Labor Inducing Meds

Via: soulcycle.com

There are times when Pitocin or other medications to induce labor are warranted. However, there are plenty of times when they are not. If a doctor wants to administer  that meds will induce labor, mom needs to ask why. The risk of introducing these are many.

Pitocin makes contractions harder and can cause stress for the baby. Mom will bein more pain and may tire out faster once labor-inducing medications are in her system. Plus, if a baby is not ready to come out, Pitocin likely won't help. Trying to make a woman labor before she is ready is a recipe for problems, and can make the birthing experience extremely difficult.

9 Makes it Easier: Hiring a Doula

Via: womenswellnessofnj.com

Want shorter labor, less chance of a C-section, and less chance of epidural use? Hire a doula. These birthing assistants specialize in helping mom manage stress and pain naturally, and they serve as the go between for mom so she doesn't have to deal with the medical staff while having contractions. Doulas are a bit like birthing magic, and it's wise to look into having one around for labor.

This is especially important if mom and her partner aren't super compatible when it comes to how to manage stress. If her partner has a problem accommodate her needs, mom will want someone else there to lend a hand while she births.

8 Makes it Harder: Panic

Via: bundoo.com

It seems logical to panic when in an unknown situation in pain. However, it's one of the most detrimental things a mom can do when in labor. Panic, worry, and stress can actually slow labor, sometimes bringing progress to a complete halt.

Face the worries but know how to manage them. Instead of going into panic mode, have focal points to look at, words to repeat that offer comfort, and items in the birthing room that bring peace to the mind. Having a birthing coach who knows how to bring mom out of the panic is also key. Panic can prevent labor, so avoid it.

7 Makes it Harder: Having Dilation Checked Frequently

Via: hr.osu.edu

It's normal to want to know how labor is progressing, and many women think the key to finding out is to track cervical dilation. That's why some women allow doctors or nurses to check them often during labor. However, this can be a mistake. Not only are cervical risks uncomfortable and a way for infection to enter the body, but they don't always tell mom much about how labor is really progressing.

A woman may progress gradually, finally making it to a ten after hours. Another woman may stay stuck at a four for hours and then suddenly jump straight to full dilation and pushing. Every person is different, and mom may worry if her dilation isn't going according to what she thinks is normal when this isn't necessary. Everyone's normal is unique.

6 Makes it Harder: Avoiding Water

Via: littleprettyliz.com

Water births are not always offered to laboring women, but being in water during labor offers major benefits. Mom will feel lighter in the water, and this may offer her renewed energy when she is tired. Water also allows mom to move around and find different birthing positions that might seem too cumbersome outside of the tub.

Water can also help serve as a pain reliever, and some women go as far as to actually deliver the baby in the birthing tub. Even if mom doesn't want to deliver in water, being allowed to move in it freely until pushing starts can make labor easier.

5 Makes It Easier: Taking a Birthing Class

As much as it's possible, stay mobile. Walk, stand, or find ways to move around. This will help alleviate pain, move the baby further down the birth canal, and speed up labor. One of the first things doctors do when women go into premature labor is put them on bed rest, so why would a woman who actually wants to be in labor do the same thing a woman who wants to stop labor is told to do? It doesn't make sense.

Make sure the OB is okay with movement during labor so he or she won't try to derail the plan to stay mobile.

4 Makes it Harder: Epidural Too Early

Via: bundoo.com

It is absolutely fine to ask for help with pain management during labor. Timing, however, is important. If mom receives an epidural too early, she may unintentionally slow down labor, causing her to have to wait even longer to meet her baby.

Once mom has an epidural in place, she can't walk around. Limiting movement can make labor last longer. It's also suspected that epidurals can also slow down labor, though the combination of other factors may also play a role. Waiting until mom is dilated to a certain number or until it's unbearable is the best way to ensure the epidural doesn't throw labor off course. Don't walk into the hospital expecting immediate pain medication unless labor is very far advanced.

3 Makes it Harder: Not Knowing Birthing Positions for Back Labor

Via: bundoo.com

All labor is painful, but back labor presents unique challenges that it's best to be prepared for. The baby's head pressed up against mom's lower back during labor is usually to blame for the intense pain of back labor. Contractions make the pain worse, but some women even have it between contractions when they are trying to prepare for the next round.

There's no way to completely alleviate the pain of back labor, but there are positions that can help mom get through it. Knowing these positions and practicing them is a good idea. Mom won't know if she is going to have back labor pain until labor starts, and by then she needs to know what to do.

2 Makes it Harder: Getting Dehydrated

Via: mindsightclinicperth.com

Dehydration causes exhaustion and discomfort, and these are two issues mom doesn't need to deal with even more during labor. Most women have an IV placed in them while in labor, but some women choose to have it locked so nothing goes in unless there is a need. While this is an acceptable option, mom will need to work hard to avoid dehydration if she doesn't have IV support.

Light eating and plenty of fluids should be allowed during labor since mom will sweat and lose a lot of fluid during the birthing process. This may be enough to keep mom hydrated and energized throughout birth.

1 Makes It Easier: Looking Into a Birthing Center Delivery

Via: fpcn.com

For some women, the hospital is the only place to deliver due to special risks that require a certain type of care. However, if it's possible for a woman to look into a birthing center delivery, it could make labor easier. Delivering at a birthing center may shorten labor and could help mom avoid a C-section.

Birthing centers aren't as prone to intervene as hospitals usually are, and women are free to move around and may even be able use a birthing tub to relax. Some hospitals even have birthing centers within them so a woman can have the best of both worlds.

Sources: Babycenter.com, Americanpregnancy.org, Parents.com

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