Healthy Birth Practice 1:
Let Labor Begin on Its Own
Adapted from The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence
Letting your body go into labor spontaneously is almost always the best way to know that your baby is ready to be born and that your body is ready for labor. In the vast majority of pregnancies, labor will start only when all the players—your baby, your uterus, your hormones, and your placenta—are ready. Naturally, labor usually goes better and mother and baby usually end up healthier when all systems are go for birth. Every day of the last weeks of pregnancy is vital to your baby's and body's preparation for birth.
If your labor is induced (started artificially), it becomes a medical event and proceeds quite differently from spontaneous labor. Unless you or your baby has a health problem that necessitates induction, it makes sense to wait patiently for your labor to start on its own. Even if your due date has passed and you’re longing to hold your baby, remember that nature has good reasons for the wait.
- Download Let Labor Begin on Its Own to learn more about induction of labor.
- Learn some tips for avoiding labor induction.
- Find out how to keep labor as natural as possible if you have a medical reason to be induced.
- Watch the video below on why to let labor begin on it's own.
Let Labor Begin On Its Own
A. In pregnancy, labor will start only when all the players - your baby, your uterus, your hormones, and your placenta - are ready. Every day of the last weeks of pregnancy is vital to your body's (and your baby's) preparation for birth. Should you choose for labor to be induced, it a medical event and proceeds quite differently from spontaneous labor.
B. Induction has a higher percent of cesarean rate associated with it. So while a cesarean is not definitive with an induction, ask yourself if the potential benefit truly outweighs the risks.
C. All the hormones that play a part in labor (oxytocin, endorphins, catecholamines, and prolactin) are important. However, there are studies that show now just how important those same hormones are to both mom and baby when spontaneous labor occurs. For example, the natural occurring oxytocin surge in the mother’s body that precedes labor is thought to have a neuroprotective effect on the baby, while higher levels of the synthetic version (pitocin) produced the opposite effect. Catecholamines are vital to readying the baby’s lungs for air breathing after birth, and fetal catecholamines increase a few days before spontaneous labor. Knowing that due dates are often off by at least a few days, even inducing at 40 weeks can lead to issues if the baby wasn’t ready.
A Tip from Lauren:
Keep labor a secret! If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling contractions, try to go back to sleep. Maintain the quietness of the night and don’t wake your partner right away. Let early labor play out – remember your partner needs rest as well so they can provide adequate support when labor really gets tough! Take a long, warm bath, then go back to bed and doze between contractions.