Why You Need To Listen To Your Body During Labor

Image via David Swift Photography/Flickr
Image via David Swift Photography/Flickr

Eyeing the fetal heart monitor on my computer screen, I calmly hand my patient another pillow and help her to roll gently onto her side, moving IV and epidural lines out of the way as we go. 

“The baby doesn't look like he's enjoying the side you were laying on too much,” I explain. “So, let's give this side a shot! Are you comfortable?”

The patient nods, but admittedly, she can't feel much due to her epidural. 

And while an epidural can certainly be a beautiful thing, it can dull a woman's sense of feeling and impede her movement during labor.

A woman's feeling and her ability to move freely during labor are definitely two aspects that, as a labor and delivery nurse, I firmly believe in. Women will have varying degrees of numbness and pain control from their epidurals, of course, and I would never advocate against an epidural, but I do want women who choose an epidural to pay attention to how their body is feeling during labor–as they may need to pay attention even more closely than those who go the non-epidural route.

Put simply, as the baby twists and turns and makes his way down the birth canal, often times, the way that baby is positioned in the pelvis will signal a laboring mother to move a certain way–it may be more painful for her to sit, for example, or she will find that her left side hurts more, so she moves to her right. 

And often times, the mother's movement, in coordination with her baby's efforts down that birth canal, can help labor progress more quickly because the mother actually unintentionally helps move her baby descend. Her walk around the room or roll to one side might be all the extra push that her baby needs to get under her pubic bone, for example. 

I often find for women in back labor, especially, paying attention to what their bodies are telling them makes a difference for labor–many women automatically feel the urge to change positions; as nurses we often try having women do the hands and knees position for back labor to try to “flip” the baby around and it's interesting to see how many women instinctively want to labor in that position. 

Women know. And sometimes, their bodies know more. 

Women know. And sometimes, their bodies know more. 

So many times, the instant before I've rushed into a room to fix something the monitor is showing me, a woman will be already calling out with her call light. 

“Something's not right,” she will say. “I can feel it.”

Let me tell you one thing–as a nurse, the instant a mother in labor ever says, “I feel like something's wrong,” I pay attention. I never, ever doubt a woman's instinct during labor. They always know. 

So moms–when you're in labor, remember to listen to your body and trust yourself and your baby. You'll know how. 

What do you think?

Why You Need To Listen To Your Body During Labor

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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  1. Profile photo of Jessica Jessica says:

    See, I’ve always felt that nurses were amazing, then the nurses and midwives at Rose Medical Center disappointed me greatly (it wasn’t lack of attention, it was a lack of dignity). Won’t be ready for another for a couple of years, but I’m currently taking recommendations for midwives and hospitals in the greater Denver area. Never going to Rose again. I want nurses like Chaunie.

  2. Profile photo of Aubrey Aubrey says:

    With all 3 boys, the nurses would always say “you’re not ready!” and withing minutes one of my son’s would be born (in my second labor, he was crowning while the nurses tried to tell me there was no way he was there..) In all 3 deliveries (no drugs, my kids come to quick) I’ve had at least 1 nurse say Oh shit. With the first 2, my doctor didn’t make it in time, with the second, the nurse delivered my son because there wasn’t a dr in the room, and the 3rd it was almost a toss up over if the hubs or the dr caught my son! Listen to your bodies ladies. Flat on your back is not a natural laboring position!

  3. Profile photo of Tahkaney Tahkaney says:

    This kind of made it seem less scary. I know my jitters will come back since I’m only 24 weeks so I have a ways to go, but this soothed me a little.

  4. Profile photo of joanna joanna says:

    its true by u lisening to what ur body tell u when ur in labor u know what to do…

  5. Profile photo of dana dana says:

    I listen to mine…PUSH (GET OUT)

  6. Profile photo of Nat Nat says:

    thank you at 37 weeks, 3cm and 50% effaced I really needed to hear that right now!!


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