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Active birth - for or against?

(42 Posts)
TuttiFrutti Thu 24-Feb-05 18:55:50

I'm 32 weeks pregnant with my first baby and have been recommended the "active birth" regime, where you have minimal pain relief, move around a lot in the first stage of labour and stay upright for the second stage. I've read the book by Janet Balaskas and it makes sense in theory (force of gravity, etc) but I'm worried about the lack of pain relief.

Is there anyone out there who has actually done this? Or tried to do it perhaps without success?

bundle Thu 24-Feb-05 18:57:28

i've had 2 c/s so i'd advise at least finding out about all the options, and then deciding when it actually happens. until then you won't know what's best for you but you can at least plan for every eventuality

morningpaper Thu 24-Feb-05 19:00:44

I'm sure that most people would say that it's a great plan and I think it's what most people try to do these days.

Plenty (like me!) tried without success! You have no idea how you will respond to the pain of labour until you go through it. But learning as much as possible is great.

Try to also focus on the fact that with supportive care in labour, a C-Section can be just as positive a birth experience when you and baby are safe at the end of it. Good luck. xx

SeaShells Thu 24-Feb-05 19:04:15

I just laid there with lots of pain relief for first labour, but with 2nd, I felt the urge to keep standing up and move around, I still had some pain relief but felt the pain lessened when I was upright and leaning forwards, gave birth like that. I didn't plan it, I just went with the flow at the time.

dejags Thu 24-Feb-05 19:04:26

I did it with DS2 TF. I spent the early part of labour (until 4cm dilated) walking around the hospital and up and down the stairs. The rest I spent pacing the room and bouncing on my birth ball (marvellous thing).

I managed my breathing with Gas and Air i.e. I used the mouthpiece as something to concentrate on.

Active birth was no less painful than my first awful delivery but it was a helluva lot quicker (less than 4hrs opposed to 12hrs +). I also felt entirely in control - DS2 was delivered straight onto me in a darkened room, it was a calm wonderful experience. I didn't deliver standing up because I had to have a sort of McRoberts manouvre done last minute but the MW's did this quietly and professionally so I didn't feel it detracted at all.

Just my twopenneth

Amanda3266 Thu 24-Feb-05 19:05:58

I reckon this could be a hot topic of discussion. My only advice is to read all you can and then go with an open mind. All this stuff is good in theory but in practice we don't give birth in small birthing units which have adequate midwives to properly support women - and the support is often what makes the difference in coping with pain. Pain is also different for everyone - all the research says that women in upright, forward leaning positions during labour have shorter and less complicated labours and deliveries on the whole. (there will always be a small number who will do need help)
I booked a homebirth for my first and was very certain that I would cope. In reality I went 14 days over, went into hospital, had a failed induction (painful) and then a caesarean section for failed induction. That was fine BUT for some women it would feel disasterous - be open-minded. Find out about all the pain relief options as well and just go with the flow.

Hope it goes well


aloha Thu 24-Feb-05 19:07:24

As someone who had (and wanted!) two c-sections, I'd say, go for what you feel will make you happiest. Learn lots, get as much support as you can - personally, I'd be happier to rely on an independent midwife or doula than take your chances wtih NHS midwives who can vary from excellent to frankly appalling - but also keep an open mind so you dont' feel you have 'failed' if things don't go the way you hoped. I actually went into labour with my second child, and though I couldn't keep still for the pain, I can't say that any movement or positions actually made it hurt any less! However, I do understand that waterbirths are sometimes less painful than non-waterbirths so you might want to consider that.

Amanda3266 Thu 24-Feb-05 19:09:22

As aloha says - a doula might be worth considering for the extra support in labour.

paolosgirl Thu 24-Feb-05 19:11:48

I had two births as you've described - and I had no idea whatsoever that they were called active births .

I went into both labours doing what felt right...I think it's important to keep a really open mind, and not think that you've 'failed' in any way if you don't have the labour you want. You get the labour your body gives you - and the main thing is that you and your baby are well and healthy at the end of it. Good luck when the time comes

lockets Thu 24-Feb-05 19:12:33

Message withdrawn

paolosgirl Thu 24-Feb-05 19:12:39

Sorry - should have added that the 2nd one esp was a cince!

myermay Thu 24-Feb-05 19:12:53

Message withdrawn

dejags Thu 24-Feb-05 19:13:52

Totally second the point made about support during labour - I had a fantastic midwife, without whom I would never have managed the labour that resulted in DS2.

A doula is an excellent suggestion if you will be in a busy NHS hospital.

wilbur Thu 24-Feb-05 19:26:40

My 2nd labour was much more "active" than the first, I used a birth ball and a lot of pillows and felt happy and in control and dd arrived a lot more easily than ds (partly to do with the upright position and partly just the fact that she was a 2nd labour). One thing to remember is that your birth plan/hopes are not carved in stone, you can have gas and air and remain moving about, if you're lucky enough to be in a hosp who offers them, you can even have a mobile epidural which takes the worst of the pain away without rendering you temporarily paralysed below the waist so you can still be upright and sometimes walk around. I reckon active birth is definitely worth a go - anything to shorten labour! Start out keeping upright, moving about, breathing and then if the pain is too much then think about your pain relief options. Like Amanda said - keep an open mind.

pupuce Thu 24-Feb-05 19:32:01

I did it wice.... but I am bloody determined myself
I am a doula and most of my clients had an active birth... though I don't think we really ever discuss it as a "I want an active birth" but more like I'd like to go as far as poss without an epidural... and of course I'll hapily take the gas and air.... you know what???? most are totally amazed they did with neither ! It wasn't their stated desire, yet when properly supported you don't often need it.
Said my peace

beansprout Thu 24-Feb-05 19:37:29

I wanted an active birth. Booked into the birth centre and everything. Wanted a water birth too. Just me, dp, dimmed lights and after a few hours... baby as well.

Didn't happen.

Emergency c-section instead. But it was still ok. Some women can go without pain relief, some can't, some of us can give birth naturally, others need more help. And all of it is completely fine. One is not superior to the other. It has been said many times but the health of you and your baby is the most important thing.

Catbert Thu 24-Feb-05 20:54:59

My second was an active birth - but I didn't "know" it, I just could NOT sit down! My hind waters broke on the Sat pm, but no labour. On Sunday I decided I really didn't want to be induced on Mon am, so I spend ALL day bouncing on my ball, and stamping up and down the stairs sideways. Still nothing, but at 3.30am Mon morning, labour started in earnest and I just could not sit still through any contraction. At 8am at the hospital a midwife timidly interrupted my frantic marching around to examine me, and I was 5cm. I hopped on the bed on all fours and gave birth 45 minutes later with 2 pushes, 1 for the head, 1 for the body!

I did have gas and air, and it was fast, furious and excrutiating, but I am convinced to this day that it was so fast and efficient (just over 5 hours) because I never stopped moving.

bozzy Thu 24-Feb-05 21:06:24

I had my first baby at home, with a doula. I was extremely fortunate to be in a very stress free environment which I believe helped immensely. I spent most of my labour kneeling over the side of my bed (labour started 9pm with immediate contractions 5 mins apart) and had DS at 6am. The only pain I felt was at the end when I was pushing the head out - I was in doo-la-la land for the rest of it and although I had a TENS machine and a waterpool on standby, I didn't need it. I know I was very lucky but having a doula around made a huge difference as both my husband and I were both very relaxed. As it turned out, I had met 5 midwives and not one of them turned up for my birth (one wanted to but wasn't allowed...!) Do whatever is comfortable - squatting definately opens up your pelvis by a huge amount so if you are able to squat, I would. Like everyone else says, you have to decide what you want at the time...don't be afraid to ask for pain relief. I just didn't have the option as I was at home, but as my doula had predicted, I didn't need it. Best wishes for your birth!

Blu Thu 24-Feb-05 21:17:21

Tuttifrutti - if it feesl instinctively right for you, go for it. I did, for my first (only) baby, and even though we did need help at the end (baby stuck - ventouse delivery and I did ask for an epidural at that point) I am really pleased i went for - and managed - the labour I felt comfortabale with. The registrar said that had i been in hospital with a 'managed' labour my baby would have been born by CS. For me, i was happy to avoid that.

The point is that I remained calm and active and at home with TENS and pool unitl I really felt for myself that we did need serious help. Because of the active nature of my approach, I felt that my own decision - or agreement with the midwives' decision - at that point, was as active a process as all the leaning forward on the stairs had been.

The point about pain relief is that if you want it, at any time, you can ask for it! Active birth doesn't sign you into some sort of contract, you know! I did 28 hours labout includiong 3 hours pushing without even thinking I needed gas and air, but once in hospital, with the prospect of lying on my back, I demanded, and got, an epidural. No problem!

Open mind, and do what feels right for you - and the very best of luck

jessicasmummy Thu 24-Feb-05 21:18:42

me personally - against - i need the back up of pain relief and the rest on the bed is invaluable for the days that lie ahead. only my opinion.

Amanda3266 Thu 24-Feb-05 21:19:47

Interesting theory - never thought of it that way but you are right - the rest on the bed to prepare for the days ahead is a good idea.

zubb Thu 24-Feb-05 21:27:21

Both my labours would fit under this - although like Paolosgirl, I wouldn't have known it was called active labour.
It really is whatever works for you, just be openminded.

elliesmoomoo Thu 24-Feb-05 21:28:03

For!! With my DD (my only at mo) I had a pretty quick labour - 4.5 hours.I was induced and I did lots of walking with my mum and sis and by the time I wanted any other pain relief (I used TENS and gas & air ) I couldn't have any 'cos I was 10 cms dilated. The pride I felt after was immense as I felt I did it all myself and I could get up and walk straight after I had her. I was awake and she was alert so It made BF easier too. The one thing I would advise is to not have any rigid ideas of what yo expect as things may change, and just go with what feels right. Good luck!!

bobbybob Thu 24-Feb-05 21:31:35

Marathon runners don't prepare for a marathon by lying in bed though, they exercise. Therefore my theory was to keep active up until the birth, but then to relax in the pool. Personally pain killers make me more tired than natural endorphins. It's all about personal preference.

Pollyanna Thu 24-Feb-05 21:35:51

definitely for! I did this with all 4 of mine, managing with gas and air (which, like dejags, I used mainly to help with the breathing). I'm not sure how much the activity helped with the pain, but all 4 of my labours were short. I do think it is instinct to move about in labour though.

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