How to have a fast labor

by Marcie
new mom happy after a fast labor and delivery

Since all of mine were fast I don’t know exactly what made it that way but here are my theories.

First off, I could have just been blessed. For some reason God just granted me the ability to have easy labors so that I would have a large family. And to compensate for other blessings I didn’t have like a supportive husband. I felt very alone during my marriage, but never more so than during pregnancies, labor, and postpartum so I was grateful for the quick labors I was granted.

Blessings aside, here are my other postulations:

1.) I exercised a lot during pregnancy:

  • Rode my exercise bike for 30 minutes a day and walked 2 miles a day.
  • Besides aerobic exercise I stayed active throughout the day. I did leg lifts while filling my water bottle, situps while waiting for my toddler to attempt to dress himself, tricep dips on the chair as we sat at the table and did crafts, and jogging in place while starting the laundry. See my post staying active all day.
  • One last point for exercise, I tried to be fairly flexible. I did gymnastics as a teenager and although I’m not as flexible as I used to be, I still sit in straddles in the evenings while I read, work on my laptop on the floor in front of me. I stretched to each side periodically and pulled forward as far as I could. At other times during the day when I was standing around waiting for a child to put their shoes on, brush their teeth, etc I would bend over and do alternating toe touches. That really helped me stretch my obliques (muscles on my sides.) I also twisted from side to side or reached behind me to touch my toes alternately as I kicked my legs back. All of these simple exercises/stretches helped me stay flexible in my torso area which I believe helped me have quick labors.

2.) I drank a lot of water and stayed hydrated throughout the pregnancy.

3.) I tried to eat healthy.

I didn’t know about real food at the time so I wasn’t as healthy as I am now. I ate low fat products which have extra additives and ingredients that aren’t real food but I also never ate out and didn’t eat a lot of sugar or processed foods. I tried to eat whole wheat grains, fiber rich foods, and meals made from scratch. I almost wish I could be pregnant one more time eating real foods to see the difference between all my other pregnancies. I’m sure real foods would have helped with my morning sickness and energy levels, but that’s another discussion. Anyway, although my diet wasn’t as good as it could have been, it wasn’t terrible either and maybe that helped my labors.

4.) My last postulation is a big one. Labor for me was a mental thing.

As soon as I felt that first contraction, I focused on pushing the baby out. Even when nurses would say “don’t push” I imagined the baby moving down the birth canal while physically trying to push him out even before I felt like it. I breathed deeply with the contractions and worked with my body. I thanked it for doing its job of creating a tiny miracle and for now pushing it out into the world. The picture in my mind of the baby sliding down and out combined with breathing and pushing seemed to do the trick. With most of my babies I only had 5 or 6 contractions before pushing the baby out. I would have one at home, wait for a second to be sure it was labor, and then quickly grab my packed bag and anything I hadn’t packed yet like my toothbrush and camera, then get in the car. I would have 1 or 2 en route to the hospital and with each very intense, painful contraction I braced myself against the door and endured the most pain I’ve ever had, yet told myself it was good, the baby was coming soon. I again thanked my body and told myself I could do it. When I got to the hospital I would have one getting checked in and one after my gown was on and then it was go time from there–pushing the baby out in 1-3 contractions. 

My fastest labor was exactly 30 minutes from first contraction while getting ready for bed (after seriously feeling no labor pains all day and going to bed dejected as he was 9 days late at this point) till the moment he was pushed out 6 minutes after getting to the hospital. Aside from baby #8 which I’ll explain in a minute, my longest labor was 2 hours. With baby #8 I had a lot of false labor where when I was busy getting dinner ready for the kids I’d have a lot of contractions, but not back labor like all of my other babies. Then when I sat down it completely stopped. It was his due date but I knew he’d be born a week late (and I wanted him to–to be born after Halloween and be our first November baby) so I just kept telling my body to stop. I’d lie down and feel better but then get up and get stuff done. Finally at 7pm I looked up false labor and read that some women’s bodies won’t go into full active labor because their body isn’t letting it. I knew this was me. I went into my closet and prayed for strength to mentally accept that I was in labor today when I was planning on next week and wasn’t ready. When I don’t want something, I really don’t want it. So I had a hard time coming to terms with this. But the moment I let go and accepted today as his birthday my body went into active labor–the intense, back labor I’m used to. I told my husband, left the kids in the middle of a family night game, and rushed to the hospital, barely getting there in time. I went into the bathroom to put a gown on and give a urine sample but pushed the baby out instead. It was 7:37pm. (See birth stories to read about all 13 pregnancies.)

That was a big testimony to me how strong my mental power is. And how my thoughts are connected to the rest of my body. When I denied I was in labor my body couldn’t do its job. When I finally gave my body permission to have the baby today, it went straight to work. It was as if my body was like a kid at the top of the slide waiting for permission to go down a tube slide and once given it, it’s only seconds later it emerges at the bottom. I felt my body say, “Thanks!” and after I visualized  the baby sliding down the birth canal, I jumped to my feet, grabbed my bag, went into the living room to tell Nathan and the kids, and ran outside to jump in the car and we barely made it to the hospital. So technically this labor was probably 3.5 hours because I was feeling contractions around 4pm but they always stopped. Once real back labor started it was 30 minutes.

I hope this doesn’t come across as boasting about my quick labors. I know I am indeed blessed and I’ve thought about being a labor and delivery nurse or a doula in hopes that I can help women have easier, faster, and more enjoyable labor experiences. I’m so grateful for all of mine and wish everyone could have it as easy as I do. Sometimes we have bad luck and it just isn’t meant to be but I also believe in doing our part in making things happen and letting God do the rest and grant the blessing. So here are my suggestions again: 

How To Have A Fast Labor

Exercise daily: walk, bike ride, treadmill, anything.

Stay active during the day: do squats while you pump gas or do laundry, do leg lifts while you comb a child’s hair or fill your water bottle, jog in place while you answer the phone or wait for the TV to come on, and run tiptoeing along the curb to get your mail (yes, I did this one in Utah and wondered what the neighbors thought. I went as fast as I could in my bare feet, sometimes in the snow, but it was fun!)

Maintain flexibility: bend forward and back, twist side to side, sit in straddles while watching tv or scrolling through social media.

Drink a lot of water.

Eat real foods at least 80% of the time: Fruits, veggies, raw milk and cheeses, nuts, beans, grass-fed meats and all whole grain breads, pastas, cereals, and rices. Cook from scratch as much as you can and avoid eating out and packaged foods.

Mentally let your body do its thing and visualize the baby coming down and out. Thank your body for its hard work, cheer it on, and sweet talk yourself: “Good job, you can do it, you’re amazing, the baby’s coming out.”

Good luck! If you’re reading this you’re probably pregnant so congratulations! I’m so excited for you! I absolutely loved labor and delivery. It felt like Christmas for me but whereas I’ll probably have 80 Christmases in my life, I’ll only have 10 labors and deliveries (not counting my stillborn.) It was a day I looked forward to for 9 months and couldn’t wait to see what my labor story would be like. It was almost sad when it was over and I couldn’t look forward to it anymore, much like the feeling when Christmas is over. I wrote each story down in my journal and re-lived it in my head for months after each baby was born. Each delivery is a treasure; a special time where I worked with God to bring His precious child into the world. Each one was amazing and miraculous and a day I hold dear to my heart. I hope your upcoming delivery day will be as wonderful as you imagine! Let me know how it goes. I absolutely love hearing labor stories!

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