As a busy Asheville doula, I have been to long births and fast births. I have been to a super speedy, precipitous birth that was over in under an hour, and a long marathon of prodromal labor which lasted 3 days. Most women hope their labors will be on the quicker side of this spectrum. The length of your labor is not something that can be predicted, but there are a few very simple things that you can do that can contribute to faster labors.
Babies who are in the optimal fetal position are typically born with greater ease and with significantly less discomfort to the laboring woman. The optimal position is to have the baby's head down, and the baby's back to the mom's belly. Here are some easy daily and weekly exercises to gently encourage your baby to shift and and stay in the optimal birth position.
Yes! You read that right. A lack of sleep prenatally can contribute to longer labors, according to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Going into labor well rested contributes to a faster labor. Women who slept fewer than six hours a night during their last month of pregnancy labored 11 hours longer, and had cesarean sections 4 times more frequently, than women who slept seven hours or more.
A study from the Jordan University of Science and Technology and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Al-Kuran et al., 2011) found significant effects on birth when women consumed dates for four weeks prior to delivery. When women ate 6 dates a day for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy, there were statistically significant benefits including spontaneous labor occuring in 96% of the women who consumed the dates, compared to only 79% of the women who did not, as well as faster cervical dilation.
Get up and move! Walk, lunge, sway, dance, move your hips on the birth ball, get on all fours. Movement during labor helps baby descend and cervix dilate. Try to change up your position every half hour or so to keep labor going in the most efficient way. Pro-tip: Go to the bathroom in between each position change. Sitting on the toilet is a great way to encourage your body to relax and your cervix to dilate.
Having a doula at your birth has been proven to have a myriad of benefits, including shorter labors with fewer interventions. Hiring a doula means giving yourself the best chance for a positive birth outcome. A doula's job is to stay by your side, supporting you throughout your labor and birth. Women who have the support of a doula are less likely to have pain medication, cesareans, or other interventions, and significantly more likely to have shorter births, babies with higher Apgar scores, greater breastfeeding success and overall greater satisfaction with their birth experience.