We love to watch you move. Changing your position frequently lessens pain, helps guide the baby down into the birth canal and accelerates pushing. So we'll encourage you to minimize the time you spend in bed, and instead walk, squat, use the rocking chair, birthing ball and Jacuzzi. Sore back? Try labor dancing: Elevate the bed, lean on it with your elbows, stick out your butt and swing slowly; or hug your partner and sway. Stay off your back (even though that's probably what got you into this) to maximize blood circulation to the baby.
We don't have a crystal ball. Will your labor be a sprint or a marathon? We can guesstimate how long it will last by juggling the variables (spontaneous labor or induced, first-timer or old pro) and figure out when to summon your doctor. Timing is important when considering interventions and pain management, but labor's a journey, not a race. Poky or speedy, one thing is guaranteed: Your baby will arrive precisely on his or her birthday.
4 Top Labor Fears
1. Pain We live in the age of Jacuzzis, HypnoBirthing, massage, the epidural and other medications. If one method doesn't cut it, try another. You won't get brownie points for biting the bullet, and we won't think less of you if you need help.
2. Episiotomies and tears Many of both can be avoided with adequate pushing time, as well as by applying hot compresses to the perineum and massaging the area with mineral oil. Most midwives and, in some areas of the country, labor nurses will do this.
3. Needles If you're really freaked out by IVs, blood draws and epidurals, tell your nurse and she'll work with you to minimize anxiety and pain with warm blankets, a local anesthetic to numb the skin before a needle is inserted--and TLC.
4. Cesarean section Sometimes there's time to discuss the decision, but things can go wrong fast in labor, and your medical team may have to work at warp speed. A C-section is quick and almost always easier and less painful than patients think. In the end, what counts most is not how you gave birth, but the fact that both you and your new baby are safe and healthy.