In 1975, in her book “Spiritual Midwifery” Ina May Gaskin first wrote about a labour which went backwards. That birth story was possibly only one example in her women-centred practice which led to her proposing ”Sphincter Law” as a means to explain why some labours do not fit the accepted ’3 progressive stages’ definition of labour. In that instance the woman’s labour, as measured by vaginal examinations, reversed after she heard comments, and became fearful that her labour was progressing unusually fast. As I suggested in a previous blog, trying to determine how much the cervical muscle or sphincter has dilated is one common way labour is disturbed. This is because the understanding that labour can go backwards or stall depending on what is happening to, around or for the woman is rarely appreciated by most maternity carers and institutions. Continue reading
What is accepted as ‘Normal Labour’?
Most mainstream sources of information about birth, including magazines and antenatal classes portray labour as happening in 3 distinct stages, the first of which progresses over many hours or even days according to whether the woman is pregnant with her fourth or first baby respectively. These informants will also advise that when the accepted ‘safe’ time limits for each of these stages of normal labour are exceeded it is a sign that the woman’s body needs to be medically helped. This help can be in the form of treatments to speed the labour up (augmentation) or pull the baby out of the woman by using vacuum or forceps or major abdominal surgery.
Equally, a labour which occurs more quickly than with-in these prescribed boundaries is called “Precipitate Labour” and considered potentially dangerous for mother, baby or both. Though sometimes stunned by this unexpected and overwhelming experience of labour and birth, women and their babies are usually unharmed by ‘precipitate’ labours, particularly when compared to the levels of trauma experienced by many women who have medical ‘help’ with slow labours. Continue reading