15 Weeks: Labor Of Love

March 18, 2012

Please tell me that quick births run in families!?

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I visited my grandmother this week and my mom was there as well. Gram told me a little about her birth stories, although given that they were over 50 years old [sorry mom!] I didn’t get too many details.

She said with both of her children she felt zero pain from the contractions. She just knew the babies were coming. My grandfather took her to the hospital and she told the nurses she was in labor. They told her to go home since this was her first there was no way she was in active labor. She told them the baby’s head was coming out, and sure enough when the nurse checked her my Uncle Chris was crowning! When she delivered my mom years later, she said her labor was 2 hours from start to finish and she never felt a thing. My grandfather apparently was still parking the car when my mom was born.

I know grandparents can embellish stories a bit, but I believe she’s telling the truth! But I also wonder if she has just forgotten about the pain all these years later!?

I asked my mom about her births too.

With me, she was in labor for 14 hours from water breaking to birth. She had one kind of drug to take the edge off and remembers the contractions being pretty painful, but I think the fact that I came out not breathing was worse!

With Larbs, her labor was only SIX hours. I don’t think she had any drugs for pain that time [remember this was the 80s] and she said the pain was worse. She did have pitocin – during a 6 hour labor! I can’t imagine what for, but my guess is that’s why it was worse.

Read more about my birth story in this guest post my mom did for my birthday!

My greatest fear about birth isn’t the pain or the intensity – it’s the length. I watched (from the internet : ) ) Emily labor for 50+ hours and have had other friends go on longer than a day. I know you can’t predict or control a thing, but I can hope + wish, right!?

Other 15 week posts:

The Mouse, The Fish + The Rhino

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ashlynn March 18, 2012 at 9:08 am

“I don’t think she had any drugs for pain that time [remember this was the 80s] and she said the pain was worse.” I don’t know what you mean by “remember this was the 80′s” in reference to not having any drugs. Do you mean they weren’t around, or it wasn’t something people practiced at the time? Because my aunt had an epidural with her son. He was born in the 80′s. My sister and I were too, and my mother had demerol.

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2 KERF March 18, 2012 at 9:23 am

She told me only labors with complications got epidurals at her hospital (Boston) and she wasn’t offered one

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3 Elisabeth March 18, 2012 at 11:56 am

I was a baby of the 80′s (as well as my mom’s sister’s kids), and neither of them had epidurals available either. My mom said they just didn’t offer them to ‘normal’ births.

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4 Mom March 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I think the epidurals were used for times when the pain was really severe, not a standard birth, and I think it varied from hospital to hospital. Yes, I think demerol was pretty common. Mine was nicentol (sp?), pretty similar I imagine. When I had Laura three years later and in a different state, they didn’t use either of those, but a milder drug, which wasn’t nearly as good. I remember being annoyed at the doctor!

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5 ashlynn March 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm

My Aunt was in Atlanta. It was 1987…so maybe epidurals were more common by then. My mom was offered it and said no in 1985. Same hospital. My mom’s labor was 18 hours, so maybe that’s why she was offered it. But, I think my aunt’s was pretty swift. I’m sure it depended upon hospital and doctor like your mom said.

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6 Mom March 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Yes I think for the harder labors and also what they used to call “back labor.” I had a few friends who had them. They used to say they caused headaches, but that may not be true anymore. (Techniques may be better.)

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7 ES March 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

Yeahhhh…. I had hoped the same thing. My mom had a four hour birth with her first. Two pushes, no drugs. Could be me right?

Nope… 36 hours, two hours of pushing, and a c-section. I think you’re right to fear the length. I definitely felt many times that this wouldn’t seem so bad if I wasn’t SO TIRED. But there is really nothing you can do!

One thing that helped me through was thinking how it would be just one or two days and then it would be OVER. It didn’t seem so intimidating then.

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8 KERF March 18, 2012 at 9:22 am

I wonder how much nurture is involved…things like yoga, chiropractic, stretching, fitness too. Although my guess is you are in better shape than your mom was, so perhaps it’s just all luck of the draw

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9 ES March 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

Well it definitely couldn’t hurt to be in shape. It is definitely a physically-draining activity. There are just so many factors involved. Will you go into labor naturally? Or need to be induced? Will the baby tolerate labor well? Will you go into labor at midnight or noon? Will labor make you nauseous? Will the baby have dropped or will it take a lot of time to descend? Will your water break on its own? Will you have Strep B? Will you be two weeks overdue? Will the baby pass a bowel movement inside? Will the baby be breech? ETC ETC

I know there’s no use telling a first-time mom this and believe me, I get it, I was one of them… but it’s so out of your control. My only advice would be get as much sleep as you can in the weeks leading up to labor (take a tylenol PM if you have to, it’s perfectly fine) and relax as much as possible. The rest is pretty out of your hands.

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10 Allison k March 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

This is a great comment. I am a ftm and what I am working on is remembering that I can only prepare my mind and body so much…at the end of the day there are “nature” things that no amount of “nurture” can change or prepare me for.

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11 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) March 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Great comment! Like Kath, I am fearing more the length of labor rather than being in physical pain. For some reason I just get nervous thinking “Will I be strong enough to push her out?” or “What if it takes 3 days?” etc etc. But you are so right… totally out of our control and so many factors are involved in how a labor and delivery plays out in the end. I guess the best we can do is try to prepare ourselves but also be open to alternatives if things are not going as we would hope during the process. Thanks for the reminder!

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12 Eileen March 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Here’s what I think about nature vs. nurture. My mom was a smoking, drinking 1970s mom, and she professes to be like your grandma, pushing us out in a matter of minutes with no significant pain.

I was a crunchy, marathoning, super-healthy eater with a midwife. First pregnancy: C-section. Second, with a traditional OB: a VBAC, which rocked, but it was after 17 hours of labor during which I wailed like a banshee at points. I had NO IDEA what the pain would feel like. Third: another VBAC, this time after just 6 hours of labor, which I think is pretty freaking amazing, but it still involved wailing like a banshee.

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13 KERF March 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Do you think they just don’t remember it right!?

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14 S March 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

Be careful what you wish for. A shorter labor can result in more tears or even pain. I had one tiny stitch and I think it’s because I labored for so long, at least that’s what the docs told me.

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15 KERF March 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

Tru!

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16 Julia March 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm

This is so true! My mom only had “real” labor for about an hour and I came out in one push — so fast the doctor called all of the residents in to see my mom after birth because he had never seen anything like it before — and my mom ended up with 84 stitches. She said it didn’t hurt at all when she was pushing but the tearing hurt for weeks afterwards.

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17 Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family March 18, 2012 at 9:12 am

I will say this … My mom had my sister in 4 hours and me
In 5. My water broke on its own at just about 39 weeks and I had my daughter 6.5 hours later. I totally feel like there was something in my genes! My OB couldn’t believe it was that fast for my 1st. I think you can totally hope and I’ll crossy fingers for you :)

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18 KERF March 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

Cool!

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19 emilie March 18, 2012 at 9:14 am

My mom had short labours with all 3 of her children….I was induced with my daughter who is now 10 weeks old, and the Dr. kept telling me because she was my first we’d be there for a long time. 5 hours later she was born! I’m not going to say it wasn’t painful because it was, and I didnt have any drugs, but because it was so fast the pain was over quickly. My suggestion is that if you are having a fast labour, try to avoid drugs because after the baby comes out, you feel GREAT! I was able to get up and walk to the bathroom 15 minutes after she was born and my recovery was a breeze.
I think if I would have had a long labour I would have gone with some medication though.

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20 amanda March 18, 2012 at 9:45 am

My grandmother had my uncle at home … as she told it, she was brushing her teeth when she felt pressure, so she went upstairs to lie down and out he came!

My mom, two LONG labours, then one planned c-section.

Let’s hope the easy labour skips a generation!

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21 Mom March 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Love the story of your grandma!

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22 Michelle M March 18, 2012 at 10:07 am

With my first, when I knew labor was starting, we went to the hospital and got checked. I was 3 centimeters at the time. They recommended I go home and walk a lot to get things moving and thought it would be quite awhile before they saw me again. We drove back to the house (7 minutes from the hospital) and by the time we got there, I couldn’t even stand from the intensity of the contractions, so we turned right back around. When we got the hospital, my water broke in the parking lot and by the time I got back up to the maternity ward and they checked, I was fully dilated. YIKES! They didn’t have time to get an IV or anything going on me. He was on his way out. My doctor made it to the hospital in time for my final push about 7:19pm. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced for sure.
With my second pregnancy (twin girls) it went about the same, but when we went up to be checked, they said it was on and I didn’t have to leave. I did get an epidural with them, in case an emergency C-section was required, which my doctor thought was highly likely. Ha! I ended up popping them out at 7:14pm and 7:26pm.
My mom’s labors with both me and my sister were a little more instense and longer. She told me if I ever get pregnant again to make sure not to sneeze too much towards the end or I might end up having the baby in the middle of the living room.
Fingers crossed for a quick and easy labor.

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23 Allison k March 18, 2012 at 10:14 am

I just read last night that there is no scientific proof about related women having similar labors. Also…how do people measure labor hours? From their first contraction? Or from when they actually start active labor? Also regarding the 80′s and pain meds… I think that is when non-medicated labor was coming back, after years of routine interventions like enemas and pubic shaving And mothers being highly drugged as hospital procedures.

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24 Lydia March 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

Whatever your labor is like, the end result will be wonderful, of course. The thing with labor/delivery is that you can think about it so much during your pregnancy, but you never know what is going to happen. I ended up with a c-section, though I always envisioned a very natural birth. Just wasn’t meant to be, I guess. Sometimes I still lament that I wasn’t able to do things more “naturally,” and my husband reminds me that the end result is all that matters…healthy baby (babies, for me) and a healthy mama.

Lydia :)
http://happyorganicfamily.blogspot.com/

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25 Emily Malone March 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

My sister and I both had absurdly long labors, but who knows. I will say that in hindsight, I actually kind of liked having a longer labor. It was such an intense experience, and I can’t imagine if it had all flashed by in just a few hours.

I have heard that babies that come quickly can cause more tearing, which does make sense. But I don’t think there’s really a science to that either – after four hours of pushing I was left with 15 stitches. Ouch.

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26 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) March 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I remember reading your birth story…. 4 hours of pushing….. wow…. you are a ROCK!

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27 bethany March 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

My mom said with both my brother and I, she was in labor for about 4-5 hrs. I sure as hell hope it runs in the family!!!! I’m not prego or even thinking about it yet, but that sure would be nice :)

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28 Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) March 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

I also hope that quick births run in the family, because my mom was only in labor for 3-4 hours with my oldest sister and maybe TWO with me?! She also didn’t have any drugs, besides the most basic painkillers like Advil. Although I’m not sure if I’m as tough as my mom!! Haha

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29 Cate March 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I think it just depends! (I got so tired of hearing “it just depends” from my midwife during my last pregnancy. ;-) )

My mom was in labor for 52 hours with me AFTER her water broke, and had been having contractions for several days before that. She ended up with an emergency C-section partway through pushing. With my sister, she was in labor for about a day and also had an emergency C-section.

With my first child, I was induced (Cytotec–no pitocin) and in labor for less than six hours. I pushed for 2 minutes and had 2 tiny stitches. With my second, I was in labor for less than four hours, pushed for about 30 minutes, and had no stitches.

My mom also had no morning sickness during her pregnancies, whereas I had hyperemesis.

So…it just depends! Definitely hoping you get a quick and easy, natural labor though!

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30 Averie @ Averie Cooks March 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm

That’s great that you asked them about their birth stories. My grandmas were not living when I was pregnant so couldn’t get that history directly from them, although my mom relayed what she knew and could recall.

Here’s to a smooth, easy, wonderful birth for you…in 25 weeks or so!

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31 Rachelle March 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm

How your mother delivered (or siblings) can actually be a pretty good predictor of how your labor might go (but only if they went into labor naturally as opposed to being induced). But you never know. Each baby and each woman is different ;-)
One of the things that can vastly affect labor length is baby’s position & if they are engaged appropriately (when you hear of the dreaded back labor, this is something that is happening). I’d explain more, but ** spinningbabies.com ** explains it WAY better than I ever could.

With my son, I started contractions at 10am (just barely different than my braxton hicks). Had my first “PAY ATTENTION” contraction at 4pm (during my OB visit)…. started hard labor about 7pm. I lost track of time at about 10pm. Went to the hospital at 1am, had my water broken at 5am b/c I had stalled at 9cm (bad idea btw b/c it was painful) & had a shot of narcotic about 5:45, which “wore off” about 7am where I still had a “lip” left to dilate. I pushed from 8-10am and he was born. All in all, it was ~24hours from when I first noticed early light labor and about 14 from when hard labor set in. Transition felt like forever to me (transition is where you think you just can’t stand it anymore!)– I thought it was supposed to be like 30min or less and mine felt like 4 hours.
From what I’ve been told from an L&D midwife/ nurse I know, my labor was TEXTBOOK for a first time mom. I thought it was on the long side, but I guess not. They say all bets are off with the 2nd.

Sending you thoughts of happy labor :-) (but don’t take them for another 6 months so!).

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32 Angel7 March 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

My labor and delivery lasted about 21 or 22 hours. It was painful, but I can hardly remember the pain–probably because of the medication. The only pain I remember is the back pain.

Wishing you the best :) You have a great support team!

http://faithfulsolutions.blogspot.com/

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33 Jessica @ The Process of Healing March 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I can’t even IMAGINE being in labor as long as Emily was… here’s to hoping yours is QUICK and painless!

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34 JessicaE March 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I think every baby is different, at least for my mom it was. My older sister took “only” 8 hours. But me? I took over 24 hours, yikes! I am 22 weeks and honestly I am trying to not think about the details or plan too much when it comes to labor/birth. I know I want to be able to walk. I know I want to be able to drink liquids. Other than that I am going to try to trust my body and realize that i cannot predict anything.

Even if I had the most detailed of birth plan, things happen unexpectedly. The last thing I want is more pressure to birth a certain way, or to feel as if I wish things had gone differently. What needs to happen will happen to bring our son into the world :D

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35 Becky March 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

The thing about labor is that you really cannot control what is going to happen. My good friend is in great shape and had a 3 day labor. It’s really all across the board. The thing about really long labors (I had one) is that the pain can be less “intense” for longer then the shorter ones which are hardcore usually from the start. Ya get what ya get! And you’ll deal either way.

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36 Nicole March 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I totally agree that you can’t control labor but one thing you can control is who you choose as your care provider and place of birth! That can make a huge difference in how you are able to handle something like a really long labor. I’ve given birth all different ways (hospital, OB, birth center, home, midwives) and the one thing I realized is that I could handle just about anything as long as I was being truly supported birth physically but more so emotionally :)

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37 Jenn March 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I do think theres something to be said for genes? My mother had 4 straightforward, unmedicated labours and births, and although my first didn’t turn out quite that way, it was still pretty good given the circumstances and I think the expectation which I had grown up with (that birth is normal and not to be afraid of) really helped with my preparation. My 2nd labour was “officially” 4hrs but I only really feel like I was working hard for the last 2. And even right up to the end was able to hold a conversation between surges.

I LOVED reading Ina May Gaskins books – for all the positive birth stories – they really helped!

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38 Erin Motz March 18, 2012 at 9:26 pm

50+ hours?!?! That’s INSANITY! I’m right there with ya – I fear length. With me, my mom was in labor for over 24 hours and had NO medication… my sister was much shorter but she had a c-section there. A friend of mine was in labor for about 45 minutes and said it was relatively painless — now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! ;-)

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39 Chrissy March 18, 2012 at 9:58 pm

My doctor told me there wasn’t much of a correlation of pregnancy/labor between moms and daughters, but there is between sisters. I don’t have a sister, but my pregnancy/labor was nothing like my mother’s (thank goodness). Good luck to you! I do think working out, eating well, etc. is helpful. Any physical activity is easier if you are in good shape and taking care of yourself. It’s not a guarantee for an easy labor, but I think it probably helps!

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40 Lindsay @ Fuel My Family March 19, 2012 at 9:53 am

I do think births are genetic. My moms were 9 hours with her first, then 3 with me. My first was 2 1/2 hours then only 1 1/2 hours (from first little contraction to holding her, barely made it to the hospital!). We both did it completely pain med free. Although my first was with pitocin and it was waaaay more painful but still doable. My pregnancies were also very similar to my moms!
Not so sure about the whole not feeling contractions thing. Since my labors were SO short, they were super intense but I’m with you. It was the duration I worried about. I can handle pain for only 2 hours!

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41 Jessica March 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

My labor was 58 hours long, and my mother’s labor with me was 12 hours. From the research I did while I was pregnant (I was also afraid of long labors and wanted to labor naturally like my mother did) there’s no proof of any correlation for that type of thing, because there are so many variables as other readers have mentioned above.
I also concur that length/ease of labor and the health of the mother aren’t always correlated either. As an example, I’m in okay shape (I did light cardio 3-4 times a week throughout most of my pregnancy as well as prenatal yoga once a week) and I was able to easily manage my 58 hours of intense contractions (with only a few hours of sleep during that time period) without any interventions or pain medication, and I was up and going for walks 5 days after my daughter’s birth.
However, one of my good friends has run multiple Ironman triathlons and is in exceptional health (she was still running 3 miles 4 times a week in her 38th week of pregnancy), and she had an epidural then pitocin after only 5 hours of labor because she couldn’t handle the pain (and she was also trying for a natural birth), and her recovery was rougher. She was also a big fan of acupuncture and chiropractic treatments throughout her pregnancy, for what it’s worth.
So much of labor and delivery is completely out of your control, despite any planning you may do. I found that what worked well for me was just going with the flow, not stressing out or over-planning too much, and not letting the fear of pain get the better of me. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

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42 Nicole March 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I have had 3 totally different birth experiences–first in hospital with OB and back labor was 12 hours total but lots of back pain due to him being posterior, second 6 hours total at a birth center and what I would deem “normal” pain, and third was at home with NO pain until I hit 9 1/2 cm and it felt kinda like a train going through my body (he was 10 bs 4 oz) and was born in a deep tub of water. Even though my third was by far my largest (and the same length as my first at 12 hours), it was nearly painless.

The other good thing about long labors is that they are rarely intense the entire time. Usually the longest phase of labor is first stage (0-4cm) and luckily that is when the contractions are the least intense :) I would say the BIGGEST factor in trying to avoid a long labor is to make sure you go into labor on your own (so you’re not forcing your body and baby to give birth before they’re ready) AND to stay home as long as possible in early labor since most women labor more effectively in their own familiar environment.

You’ll do great and just focus on how wonderful it’s likely to be!

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43 Lulu March 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I was in labor for 42 hours with my first. I had been at 3 cm for 3 weeks, nearly fully effaced and once I had that first “real” contraction I started counting the hours until her birth. At hour 41 after I’d been contracting every 5 minutes for days and was still only at 5 cm – my midwife suggested the epidural- she said it would relax me. It did and about 45 minutes after I got it I was pushing and I pushed for about 5 minutes – 2 pushes or so. No tears. My little monkey was sideways (ear first) so painful contractions weren’t really helping the cervix much because her head wasn’t in the right spot. It was long but really a delightful labor and pushing. My recovery was easy and fast.
With #2 (8 years later), I went from 4 centimeters to baby in about 45 minutes. I didn’t tear though. Little guy was born in the sac as I refused to have my water broken (this was a planned home, water-birth).
My second birth mirrored most of my mom’s 5 labors/deliveries. My first, I truly believe, was a result of me being very young and very nervous about the pain. Instead of just embracing it – I tensed against it. Birth is amazing and powerful and I’m delighted with both of my birth stories and feel very empowered and proud of both of them! :) Best of luck to you!

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44 Stephanie March 19, 2012 at 11:26 pm

My grandma, who just turned 90, also says she didn’t feel any contractions either! She always says she could have given birth anytime, anywhere. It was no big deal at all. My labor experience.. verrrry different. But I always wondered if it were true, what she describes!

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45 Christina March 20, 2012 at 6:42 am

If you fear labor, it will likely be longer, as your body will take longer to relax and open up. Many women have something called prodromal labor, which is like a pre-labor. You may have a day or so of irregular contractions, where you can still go about your normal life. If you find yourself in this, it is best to rest as much as you can. During my doula training, the midwife says that the remedy for rest before bed is wine, bath, wine, then go to sleep. This way you can get a good nights sleep before things really get going. Also, a very short labor can be traumatic because it all happens so fast. One book that I really liked reading when I was pregnant with my daughter, was Birth and Breastfeeding by Michel Odent. I found that the info gave me the confidence that women’s bodies are designed to labor and therefore I was not fearful. When you don’t have the fear, you may not look at the contractions as painful, which can make a difference in how you feel.

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46 Amelia March 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Lucky for you, if your mom had a fast-ish labor, you’re more likely to also. And, the reason epidurals were invented was for those looooong labor patients, so however yours turns out there will be options!

If you are armed with knowledge, coping mechanisms, a supportive husband, and a supportive 3rd person/coach (like a doula or mom), you’ll be as ready as you can be to face whatever comes along. I think fear is the biggest barrier for a lot of women….if you don’t fear the pain and you trust your body, the whole process will be easier and better no matter what happens :)

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47 Megan Lee March 27, 2012 at 2:02 am

My first child was born “sunny-side up” and this caused a lot of low back pressure. Thank god it was a water birth! Anyone experiencing a similar labor, I would recommend a hands and knees position. It makes all the difference! Two of my babies were born this way. Good luck, Kath! Trust in yourself!

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