Slow & Steady Wins: Why Rushing Labor Could Make Birth Harder

Childbirth is a natural occurrence that happens differently for every person. For some, labor is fast and furious, giving them barely enough time to register that their baby is in their arms. Other times, it is more of a marathon lasting from hours to days. It is often somewhere in the middle of these two ends of this spectrum. However long or short birth is, it is my opinion that we should do our best to trust the process and how it unfolds. There are occasionally specific circumstances where it makes sense to speed up labor. Still, these reasons are few and far between and should be used as a tool, when necessary, rather than a universal process.

The Cervix Is Not A Crystal Ball

At most hospitals, the care providers want to see about 1cm dilation per hour and will want to speed up labor if they are not seeing this amount of progress. For those of us who work in the community, we know that dilation can happen faster or slower and that the cervix is not a crystal ball. Rather than treating birth like a machine that should work the same for every individual, we need to treat birth as a unique experience that differs for each person and each birth experience.

If there are no medical indications that birth needs to happen quickly, then why not let things continue in their way? Might there be a reason that each birth takes the length it needs and no less or no more? Birth has been a natural process since the beginning of time, and although we have gone to a more medicalized way of bringing babies into the world, trusting birth more is something that would be beneficial for all of us to go back to.

Sponsored By: Similac
Join Similac Today for Up to $400* in Exclusive Benefits and Support

Pitocin, Breaking Waters, & Other Interventions

In many cases where care providers want to speed labor up, it can be more impactful to slow things down and allow for rest, especially because many ways that speed up labor can cause more stress and exhaustion to the birthing parent and baby. Often, when we are speeding labor up, we are ultimately heading closers to a cesarean section rather than to a faster vaginal birth. This is essential information to consider when your care provider gives the option of Pitocin, breaking of waters, and other interventions so that you can make the most informed decision for both you and your baby.

As I was writing this, I tried to think of reasons why it might be beneficial to speed up labor, and I continued to come back to the same thing repeatedly. Whether the baby is stressed, the birthing parent is tired, or we are trying to avoid infection, most of the ways to speed up labor will cause more stress, more exhaustion, and a higher chance of infection. Could it be that the best way to allow birth to unfold naturally is to sit on our hands and watch rather than intervene continuously?

Time Is A Gift

Time can be a gift to get a baby into a better position, allow the tissues to stretch rather than tear, and provide time for the mind to catch up with all the work that the body is doing. Most of my clients who have fast precipitous births describe it as too much and too intense, stating that they would have much preferred a few more hours in their experience. Perhaps if we can reframe the way we think about birth timing from long being negative and short being positive, then maybe we will be able to allow birth to be on its own timing and trust the process, whatever direction it takes.


If you enjoyed reading this content why not share it with others!
Articles shown are a mixture of informative pieces, anecdotal accounts and professional advice from our panel of Bloggers, Writers and Experts. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official view of this site.