A Method to Shorten Labour
Way to Shorten Labor
Simple Techniques to Improve and Shorten Labor
For the first time in my life I recently helped to deliver a baby. It was in Namibia, and there were several remarkable features about the birth.
1) We used an extraordinarily simple new approach to birthing.
2) This approach claims to radically reduce the length of labour — and it did.
3) The pregnant woman’s previous length of labour had been 45 hours. This labour was 3 hours.
4) The birth was achieved without any professional help.
I am going to outline the approach we used, but will give a little background first.
I will call the woman Jane. It was Jane’s third pregnancy. Her first child, a boy, was a Caesarean birth. Jane says this was because of the pediatrician’s mismanagement of her situation, and because of racial difficulties at the hospital.
The Caesarean birth left Jane feeling an enormous lack of confidence in her ability to naturally deliver her baby. It did not completely deter her from trying again though. So fairly quickly she was pregnant with her second child.
This birth was with a midwife. Jane felt the midwife totally took charge of the situation, not allowing her to make choices about the position and the handling of the baby.
This was the birth that took 45 hours. At the end of that time Jane had no strength left to help with the birth of her daughter, and felt no real contractions. So, much work was needed to be done to help Jane and build enough confidence to face a natural birth. She did this by working hard at understanding just what had been the underlying problems bringing about two difficult births. She also explored the feelings that diminished her confidence as a person and a woman. Also she had searched the Internet and seen mention of the helpful book Back Labor No More. She asked me to get this for her, which I did from the US.
Seeing that the doctors and midwives in her country stick fairly rigidly to rules that she felt were part of the cause of previous difficulties, Jane and her husband Alan decided to have a home delivery without a midwife and asked me to help during the birth. This took a lot of courage, and of course had the risk that if there were real problems there was no attending medical help. .
Prior to the birth we all read the book and practised the procedures it suggests. Also, Alan added some changes to what Back Labor No More!! by Janie McCoy King, suggests in the book. We believe these improved its helpfulness
Although I suggest getting the book, reading it and practising the procedures, the book is not easy to get, and for Jane and Alan, working as missionaries, was more than they could afford. So for those of you in that situation I will outline the simple procedures and exercises.
The main statement in the book is that energy moves in straight lines unless it meets a resistance. When contractions occur the baby’s body is pushed in a certain direction. If you imagine a line running through the baby’s body and head, then the contractions push along that line to the head.
The important point made is that the head is often pressing, not into the birth canal, but into the back of the pelvis, hitting the lower spine. This line of force hitting the lower spine causes intense back pain — thus the title of the book.
The wonderful thing that Janie shows, is how to alter that situation, so the contractions push the baby towards being born, rather than to agonising back pain and extended, and unnecessarily long, labour.
Janie suggests a couple of things to do to experience this difference between the baby’s head pushing against a solid blockage, or pushing into the birth canal.
She describes a game in which the expectant mother is blindfolded and placed just under an arm’s length from a clear wall. The expectant mother then has to push her fist hard forward. Of course she bangs her hand and it is painful. If she is then stood before an open door she can push forward and there is no pain.
Another lesson suggested that helps to understand the force pushing on the baby is to take a large door hinge — actually it is usually easier to find an oblong piece of cardboard about eight inches long folded in half. IA slight knife cut in the middle of cardboard helps it to bend easily. The aim is to hold one end of the hinge and experiment with the pressure on the opposite end. If the hinge is at a fairly flat angle, pressure on one end will flow through to the other end. But if the hinge is bent, the hinge simply folds.
This is to illustrate that if the baby’s body is not into the correct position, its body will simply fold up under the contraction.
So the whole aim of the technique is to correctly align the position of the baby so it’s head is not hitting the lower spine, and not folding up. You line up the baby’s head with the birth canal and let the contractions push it into and through the birth canal.
If you think of the line through the baby’s body and head again, and imagine the angle of that line if the head is hitting the lower back, you can see that if you are looking at this from the right side of the expectant mother’s body, the bottom of the line needs to be shifted forward slightly. This brings the baby’s head away from the spine toward the birth canal.
There are several ways of helping this take place. What Janie suggests is for the expectant mother to practise a couple of things prior to birth. The first is to place her hands each side of the lower bulge, fingers not touching across it, and lift slightly up and in. If you imagine the elbows as hinges, and the arms at the sides, the movement is that of a slight arc, changing the alignment of the baby in the way desired.
The second technique is to learn to tilt the pelvis backwards and forwards. This swivels the pelvis from the waist. It is not simply a swinging of the trunk.
When you have learned these simple techniques the aim is to start the hands adjusting the baby’s alignment as soon as the contractions begin.
If I describe Jane and Alan’s experience of using the procedure, it might help you see that as long as you understand the principle, you can adjust your approach as personal circumstances dictate.
Jane’s waters broke at 21:15 on December 31st 2005. She started using the adjustment and Alan put out the sheets and other equipment for the home birth. We were all lodging at a friend’s house, and Jane’s two children were asleep. It was an unfortunate
Jane stood leaning forward onto the back of a settee. Gravity tends to work against easy alignment of the head with the birth canal when the mother is lying on her back. This was why Jane chose to stand.
Alan stood behind Jane during the adjustments so Jane could simply get on with bearing the impact of the contractions. But Jane felt a deep need to have Alan press just above her vagina hairline — pubic bone. So Alan, now using one hand for the adjustment, found that as each contraction began, the uterus was easy to feel as a hard surface. So he then put his hand midway up where he could feel the uterus, and lifted slightly up and back. The effect was magical. The baby’s head could be felt slipping into the birth canal during contractions, and then out again at the end of each contraction. But the head was obviously engaged. Jane now knelt down leaning on the other side of the couch. Then suddenly, in just about five contractions, the head was engaged and stayed. Dilation occurred and the baby’s head was out. I slightly helped the shoulder out with the next contraction, and the baby was in my hands. Almost immediately he started breathing and let out a couple of yells to let us know he was with us. It was an unforgettable moment. Jane only experienced a tiny tear about a centimeter long. Also there was no screaming and awful shouts as is so often shown on films where the heroine is giving birth.
The woman whose house we were lodging in had, without James permissions, called a midwife. This was because the woman had refused natural birth and had wanted caesarian birth for each of her children. She was terrified and had run around her home distressed. The midwife arrived just after the birth. She was efficient in cleaning up, but handled the baby like an unfeeling lump of flesh, and basically pulled the placenta out without letting it separate naturally.
This method of adjustment is a very simple thing to do. Jane used it during a home birth, but it can be used in any type of confinement except Caesarean. It involves no drugs, no special knowledge, and no professional “adjuster”. You can do it yourself with or without doctor or midwife
Jane found that as each contraction occurred she naturally swiveled the pelvis backwards. Otherwise the only other aid was Alan lifting and tilting her abdomen.
If you can read the book Back Labor No More!!: What Every Woman Should Know Before Labor do so. It has more detail and some case histories that are interesting. But don’t hesitate to try using the alignment. It is completely non-invasive, and at the very worst can make no difference to the birth process. But with most people it produces a revolutionary change in their experience of giving birth.
I have tried to talk to several people, midwives and others involved in health, and each have treated me as if I were the lowest of the low, a poor ignorant person who should not meddle. Meanwhile they continue to handle birth as a routine that will, of course, cause pain.
An email from Janie McCoy King says, “Whenever I hear how this technique has helped another younger sister, it makes the years of researching, writing, drawing, and typesetting worthwhile. After working for another eight years, a seminar that accompanies and augments the book and has been completed. With each book that is sent, I whisper a prayer that the knowledge presented will be converted to understanding and successful application.
As an older sister who has been there.
Janie (See backlabornomore.com)
What follows is a personal account from the woman I helped in birthing her baby. It is about what happened with her other three births.
I will share my birth experiences with the last 3 children with you in detail, and you can edit it as you see fit.
With Amy I learnt that the birth experience can depict the nature of the child. Let me elaborate. I wanted to have 4 children, but I had not felt ready at the time to extend the invitation for baby number 4 to come, so I didn’t expect to fall pregnant as all the other babies came after invitation. Much to my surprise I found out I was pregnant. This little one snuck in.
I do not pay much attention to due dates, believing that the baby will come when it is ready. With Amy I had this urge to get everything ready a month in advance. A day after I bought the last of the things that I needed for the birth, I went into a labour. Three weeks early. Again her timing was different from mine.
Any way, at about 7 in the evening I started leaking amniotic fluid. The seepage was slow but constant. At 10 o’clock the contractions started. From the very start the contractions were very strong. I couldn’t lie down at all. I had to get up. I immediately started with the “Back labour, no more” – technique. I can’t remember anymore how far the contractions were apart, but I do remember walking around slowly all the time, pushing my pelvis forward, bending my knees slightly with each contraction. I held my hands locked underneath my tummy pulling upward and inward at the same time. I didn’t let go after contractions as the author explained in the book that the baby could then slip back into the previous position. By pushing the pelvis forward and pushing on the tummy, one helps the baby to position correctly to slip into the birth canal.
After exactly 1 hour, I had 3 contractions that I couldn’t handle at all. No position of any kind worked to alleviate the pain and discomfort. I decided to wake Johan because my fear kicked in. I didn’t want a repeat of Caleb or Keira’s births.
Just after I woke him, I felt I had to go to the loo again, for the third time since the contractions started. Just as I sat down, I felt that this wasn’t bowel movement, but the baby coming. I yelled to Johan to get me off the toilet as I couldn’t move. He was there in a flash and lifted me off, undressing me at the same time. I took one step forward and held on (well, hanging on is more correct) to the towel railing for the next contraction. That position felt totally wrong so I squatted right there. And just in time. As Johan felt to determine how far I was, he felt the baby’s head crowning. With the next contraction her body slid out into his hands and Amy was born. Then only there was a rush of the rest of the amniotic fluid. From the moment the contractions started to baby being born took exactly 90 minutes.
Johan ran us a bath and we got in. (Remember, the bath is right next to the toilet.) We lay in the bath for about two hours, with Amy suckling contentedly. Then only the umbilical cord stopped pulsating and we knew it was safe to cut the umbilical cord. (While the umbilical cord still pulsates the baby continues to receive oxygen and vital nutrients from the mother.) Johan tied off the cord with a piece of sterile string and then cut the umbilical cord. (We sterilized the string and pair of scissors by boiling it for 20 minutes.)
While Johan dressed Amy, I squatted in the bath, after running out the water, and with the next contraction delivered the placenta by pushing and at the same time ever so gently tugging at the umbilical cord. It was all over, and to me, a perfect birthing experience.
Since her birth Amy has confirmed that she is a sneaky one. I can remember the milestones of all the others, but not one of hers. When we became aware, she was rolling over, sitting by herself, pulling herself upright, walking, talking - without any prelude or annoucement, just like her conception and birth.
Channing’s birth was a totally different story.
About three weeks before his due date I felt a strange, uncomfortable pain when I was upright and especially when I was walking. I felt that the baby was ready to come, but he didn’t. The due date passed, the pain continued and I had the very strong impression that the baby couldn’t find the opening into the world. One evening Johan ministered to the baby, holding his hand at my vagina, sending light into it, to show the baby the way. Two nights after that the contractions started at 2 o’clock.
I got up, as I am a firm believer in walking, letting gravity do its bit. The first two contractions were 10 minutes apart. I immediately started with the “Back labour, no more” – technique. The next contraction came 5 minutes later and the contraction after that, after 2 minutes. The contractions stabilised at 2 minutes apart for the next 5 hours. (It was then that I decided that doing some gentle weight lifting to strengthen one’s arms beforehand, might be a good idea. Keeping my fingers locked and continually pulling and pushing my tummy was extremely tiring, but I didn’t want to let go.)
This birth process wasn’t going anywhere, and we prayed. I saw a being of light standing in front of a very dark cave, calling the baby out. Still nothing happened. At 7o’clock Johan said he was going to get the car so he could take me to the hospital. I was dead tired because the contractions were extremely painful and I had been walking for 5 hours straight. While he was gone, I talked to the baby telling him that I wanted to birth him at home, not in a hospital. The next moment I felt the urge to push. I panicked because Johan wasn’t there and I couldn’t call him. Just then he walked in.
We went straight to the bathroom and I held on to wash basin and pushed. That position was wrong, so I squatted again. I pushed as hard as I could. I felt something and I thought it was the baby’s head crowning, but it wasn’t. I had pushed out part of the yoke sac. I pushed with the following contraction and the baby’s head crowned and came out. And then he was stuck. During the next 2 contractions I couldn’t push him out. He started turning blue, but I couldn’t seem to push hard enough to get him out. Johan helped me push by pushing the baby upward and inward during the next contraction (he took over the “Back labour, no more” – technique). Finally the baby slipped out and the amniotic fluid followed. I immediately got into the shower with Channing, washing him and myself off. Pieces of the sac were hanging out together with the umbilical cord. Johan noticed that immediately after the birth the umbilical cord had already stopped pulsating. He tied off the cord and cut it. Channing was born 5 h 22 min after the first contraction.
About 3 hours later I delivered the placenta. When Johan checked the placenta to see if it was all there, he found that one part of the placenta was torn and had a big hole in. He then realised that I must have had placenta previa and had pushed Channing through part of the placenta. I only realised now, as I was typing this, that I had to push Channing’s body through the placenta too, and that was why I had so much difficulty pushing him out.)
We did research on placenta previa afterwards and found that it explained all of the symptoms and experiences that I had had. For most of the last trimester I had a dull ache in the lower abdomen that wasn’t due to flatulence or constipation. There was this strange, uncomfortable pain at the cervix. The impression that the baby couldn’t find the way out.
Doctors warn that sex can be dangerous when the woman as placenta previa. For some reason that Johan couldn’t explain, his sexual drive disappeared and we didn’t have sex at all. Life / God collaborated to help deliver this baby safely. Today Channing is a very intelligent three year old. He is none the worse for wear for his birth experience. We are most thankful for that.
With Channing’s birth experience I experienced first hand how, by employing the “Back labour, no more” – technique, the time between contractions shorten considerably.
Round about half past eight in the evening I started leaking amniotic fluid quite fast. Sanitary pads didn’t work, so I started using Channing’s nappies. For about an hour the braxton hicks contractions stopped completely. Then the contractions started in all earnest. As with Amy and Channing, I started walking around, thrusting my pelvis forward during contractions and using the “Back labour, no more” – technique. I cannot remember the duration between contractions or for how long I walked. I was much more focused and centred than with the other births. I remember one particularly painful contraction. I went to stand with my head against the wall, still holding my tummy. As I did so I could literally feel how the pain moved down my back and then it was gone. And immediately afterwards I involuntarily started pushing. (The author explains this experience of the pain moving down one’s back in detail.)
I thought I had to go to the loo, but as soon as I sat down, I felt the baby coming. (I don’t seem to learn that lesson!) I shouted to Johan to come take me off the toilet. I birthed Tanay in the same bathroom as Amy. Again I hung onto the towel railing and then squatted. Tanay had already crowned and I easily pushed her head out. For some reason I had some difficulty pushing the rest of her out. It felt like her shoulders were a bit stuck, but after the second try, she slipped out. She was born 3 hours after the first contraction, at 00:20.
We got into a lovely, warm bath and I washed and nursed her. After about an hour or so, I can’t remember, the umbilical cord stopped pulsating and Johan tied and cut the cord. During this time, I had a mug of coffee. Big mistake. The contractions were very painful and I couldn’t deliver the placenta. Johan went to bed with Tanay and the others, while I stayed in the bath, trying every so often to deliver the placenta. Every time I tried to get up, I became so dizzy that I decided to stay in the bath. By 6 o’clock Tanay wanted to nurse. I nursed her in the bath and then Johan helped me out. By that time I had lost so much blood that I fainted when he helped me up.
My mom came to babysit the children and Johan, Tanay and I went to the hospital. They immediately assisted me. The first thing they did was to empty my bladder using a catheter. The head nurse explained that a full bladder pushes the uterus upward into the abdominal cavity, which makes it more difficult to deliver the placenta. That’s why I said drinking a mug of coffee was a huge mistake. The nurse gave me an injection to help the placenta to detach and then assisted me to deliver it by pulling very hard at the umbilical cord while I pushed as hard as I could. The full bladder wasn’t the only reason for the placenta staying attached, but it contributed greatly to the pain and discomfort that I experienced.
The doctor explained that sometimes when the placenta develops it grows into the lining of the uterus and that causes difficulty with the delivery thereof. How deep it grows into the lining determines how difficult it is to deliver the placenta and how much intervention is necessary.
I received a blood transfusion and stayed overnight in the hospital with Tanay. It was a blessing in disguise as that gave me special alone time with Tanay to help me bond with her. Those few hours in the bath, and then the weakness due to blood loss, left me feeling completely disconnected.
If my accounts are not clear enough, please feel free to ask for specifics or clarification.
I love you and miss you, and I really wish there was some way in which we could spend some quality time together.