There Is More To Labor Than Just Pushing The Baby Out

Labor may be perceived as the time when your baby is ready to come out or is descending down int0 the birth canal to move out into the world. It is seen as tough, painful, and unpredictable. However, most labors follow a pattern of cardinal movements—which is when the baby rotates as it moves out of the pelvis.

Cardinal Movements Of Labor

When the mother is in labor, the baby is expected to twist and turn its way out such that its head and shoulders pass through the widest part of the pelvis. The uterus contracts, pushing the baby forward into the pelvis.
At the moment when the baby enters the pelvis, the head faces sideways. When the time to push arrives, your baby has descended further into the pelvis and is already positioned with their head towards your belly and face towards your back.


After the head comes out, the head moves sideways and you can expect your baby to look at your thigh now—this way the shoulders will pass through the pelvic bone with ease.

There are different types of labor depending upon the position of the baby and the time it takes from labor to birth.


1. Labor That Begins Before Time: Preterm Labor-Begins

When the labor begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy period it is termed as preterm. The baby’s development is not completed before the 37th week due to which they are unable to survive independently. Newborns are therefore kept under neonatal intensive care unit.

The doctors always try to delay a preterm labor by advising the mother complete bed rest and recommending medication—you may even have to stay at the hospital for a brief period.


2. Prolonged Labor

A labor is considered prolonged if it lasts for more than 24 hours. What makes this labor tough is fighting the fatigue. You could try various techniques to speed up the things—walking around, stimulating the nipple to release oxytocin, which strengthens the contractions, laboring in a tub of warm water.

Your partner or a doula could encourage and support you while you are coping with the contractions. You don’t necessarily need to keep pushing even when you are tired and worn out. Take breaks in between and conserve your energy. Consider an epidural or medication if the pain and the contractions are beyond the threshold—you don’t have to drain yourself out.


A prolonged labor could ban outcome of many factors like posterior position, breech baby, malnutrition during pregnancy, early administration of epidural, large baby, or small pelvis.

3. The Uncomfortable Back Labor

Back labor could be extremely painful and uncomfortable for the mother. It happens when the baby is in the posterior position or when the back of baby’s head is against the mother’s back. It can also occur when the baby is in breech position.


Here is how you can manage through back labor when the going gets tough.

1. Try to maintain a position that doesn’t put pressure on your spine—avoid sitting or lying in any such position, prefer staying upright.


2. Stand and sway your hips slowly in a dancing movement. Walk around between the contractions. Sit on a birthing ball or try kneeling positions like a pelvic rock by being on all fours. Kneel against the bed or a support of pillows. Change position to side-lying and again back to side-lying—stay in each position for at least 15 minutes.
Try squat position with your partner to hold you or by squatting on a birthing ball.

3. Ask your partner to gently apply pressure using the heel of his hands on your back where you feel most pain and discomfort.


4. Applying warm or cold compress on the back can also provide some relief from the pain. PLace ice pack or hot bottle wrapped in a towel before applying it on the skin.

4. The Shorter Duration Of Precipitate Labor

Precipitate labor is like running a 100-meter race—even though it finishes quickly, it is tougher to undergo. A precipitate labor lasts up to 3 hours, and your baby is out. Though it may seem as the best out of all, the contractions could become extremely painful and intense during that time. Your body may feel beyond control as you feel the urge to push with every strong contraction. In such a case, there should always be someone with the mother to assist and support her during the labor.

Your body may feel beyond control as you feel the urge to push with every strong contraction. In such a case, there should always be someone with the mother to assist and support her during the labor.

Sometimes, precipitate labor may be misunderstood as the second stage of labor. A mother must undergo a vaginal examination to check the progress of labor.

Above all, the woman must trust her own body’s capability. Practice breathing techniques, which you may have learned at prenatal yoga classes. Try to calm yourself even though it may seem difficult when the moment actually arrives. However, before you know it, your baby will be born.