What Can I Do To Shorten My Next Labor?

Kerry Tuschhoff's picture


Dear Doula,
I had a doula with both of my previous pregnancies. With my first, I was induced with pitocin. I labored for 22 hours and pushed for 2 more on top of that. I ended up having a c-section because he was wedged in my pelvis and wouldn't come down. My 2nd, I went into labor on my own and labored for about 30 hours from start to finish (most of it not too bad, and about 15 hours of it in the hospital). I only pushed for 35 minutes. And my 9 pound 9 ounce VBAC son was born!

My question is, and I know there is no real way to predict, but can I expect my labor to be any shorter this time? With my 2nd, I went to get checked around 11 am and was 4-5 centimeters. They sent us to the mall to walk around and have lunch (very close to the doctor's office) and come back to get checked. I was 5-6 at 3 pm. It took me over 14 hours to go from 5-6 to 10. Is there anything that you can recommend to help this progress any quicker? Or is it just something I have to work with? I'm really hoping that my favorite doula will be able to attend this birth too. She missed our first, being out of town. But was there for our VBAC.

Thanks for listening to me ramble!


Thanks for your e-mail. It sounds like you are a very powerful woman. As you know with labor & birth anything can happen. Each of one of my client's births got shorter -- her first 21 hours, second 9 hours, third 7 hours and fourth 3 hours and then the fifth which lasted 15 hours. No one can really say.

My experience has shown that since your first long and hard labor was a c-section you may have had a lot of mixed feelings that carried through to your second pregnancy. These feelings are so real and so strong that they become hurdles women have to overcome during the birthing process. Now that you have had a baby vaginally and have dealt with a lot of emotions you may relax more and your labor be shorter.

It sounds to me that you are on your way to having a great birth experience. I hope your favorite doula can be with you this time, too. Do you plan to have your other children present? I love the idea that your doctor encouraged you to go to the mall. I do that to with my clients. The mall has everything you need, good temperature, places to rest, food and drink and of course bathrooms.

Have you read the book The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth? I highly recommend this book. Another thing to think about during the last four weeks of your pregnancy is working to encourage your baby to engage in the Optimal Foetal Position. When babies engage in the anterior position, women that have had babies before have on average a 3 to 5 hour labor. You can read all about it or you can get the book, Optimal Foetal Positioning from www.childbirth.org through Cutting Edge Press. During late pregnancy I give all of my clients a birth ball and encourage them to sit upright as much as possible so the baby can engage anterior. Since I have been doing this I am just amazed at how fast the labors go. Remember there are no "guarantees" but every little bit helps.

I enjoyed sharing with you so if you have any more questions please don't hesitate to e-mail.

-- Kerry, HCHI, CHt