Variation in Labor - Be Empowered Birth Series


Variation in Labor

Be Empowered Birth Series

As women we spend so much time preparing for labor and delivery of our baby, but sometimes we forget how unpredictable birth can be! Here’s a glimpse into the variations of labor, the pros and cons of each and how to handle every scenario.

Prolonged Labor:

Prolonged labor is when the labor process is very drawn out, we’re talking 2 and 3 days of contractions and pushing. Prolonged labor can happen for many reasons, including but not limited to, maternal stress, birth interventions such as epidural, and baby’s location or size.  

  • Pros: Plenty of labor photos if you have birth photography, time to really work with your body and be in the moment with this experience.

  • Cons: Maternal exhaustion, possible fetal distress, possible loss of intervention free birth plan.

How to prevent: Prolonged labor can be prevented by regular chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy, proper hydration/nutrition, choosing a good care provider, having a birth plan that allows for a disruption/stress free environment, prenatal exercise, and hiring a doula!

Back Labor:

Back Labor is when a birthing mother’s contractions feel less like strong menstrual cramps, and more like very sharp lower back pain. Back Labor also tends to be a constant pain rather than the rhythmic flow of uterine contractions. This can happen for many reasons but usually stems from the baby’s position in the birth canal.

  • Pros: Can be relieved with counter pressure

  • Cons: May need to manipulate baby’s position before delivery.

How to prevent: Since Back labor is usually caused by baby being in a certain position, you can get regular prenatal chiropractic adjustments to help the baby be in optimal condition, and learn labor positions to help your baby move is this does happen. Your doula can help, too!

Prodromal Labor:

Prodromal Labor, or “pre-labor”, is when a laboring mother experiences real contractions that don’t actually progress towards birth. The word Prodromal comes from the Greek word, precursor! These contractions start and stop, and are not to be confused with Braxton Hicks contractions.

  • Pros: A sign that your baby will come in the following days or weeks, serves as labor practice.

  • Cons: Can be frustrating and misleading

How to prevent: Prodromal Labor can be relieved by staying very hydrated and getting plenty of rest. Rest is the best fix up for many things during pregnancy and postpartum!

Fast Labor:

For some birthing mothers, labor is short, sweet and extremely unpredictable. Sometimes birth happens in the car or before the midwife arrives! Fast Labor usually happens during a mother’s third or more birth experience.

  • Pros: Shorter pushing and laboring stages

  • Cons: increased risk for pelvic floor injury and tearing

How to prevent: Fast Labor can be prevented or slowed by staying hydrated and rested.

Induced Labor:

Induced Labor Is a labor experience that requires some type of induction or intervention. This could be Pitocin, breaking of waters, membrane sweeps, even ingesting castor oil and having sex! Labor inducing methods are used for many reasons in the best interest of mom and baby’s safety. For example, if a mom’s water breaks before labor begins, labor may be induced to shorten the labor experience and therefore prevent infection.

  • Pros: Speeds up the laboring process

  • Cons: Interventions can have side effects and can lead to further interventions. Talk to your care provider or doula to receive informed consent of each induction method.

It is important to note that all birth is beautiful, and no variation of labor is right or wrong. Birth is very unpredictable, the best thing you can do is follow its lead and create a support system that supports the environment you desire to labor in.   

During our Be Empowered Childbirth Education you are able to learn about all the elements involved with variations in labor and learn how to prepare!