Labor Challenges

Some people call them complications or problems. Others call them variations from the norm. Whatever you call them, certain situations will challenge your ability to give birth naturally.

When faced with a labor challenge, it is the responsibility of the mother and her coach or support person to examine the options and make a decision about how to proceed. You may know about some of these challenges before labor begins. This will give you time to learn and make informed decision. Other challenges will present themselves during labor. Unfortunately, the middle of a contraction is not the best time to thoroughly investigate your options. This section of Birthing Naturally will help you find the information you need so you are prepared to make decisions when you are challenged.

Making Decisions

Families who experience a labor challenge sometimes have outside pressures which make it difficult to make a decision. These pressures may include:

Other loved ones' expectations of the "correct" decision

Partners' different opinions of the best way to proceed

Conflicting information from testing or caregivers

Lack of time for thorough investigation of all options

When these pressures are added to the internal pressure of "protecting" your baby, making a decision about how to manage a labor challenge can be an emotionally draining experience. As you work through the options available to you, try to remember these three things.

You can only use the information available to you now to make this decision. You will have more information after the baby is born, and if that information were available to you now you might make a different decision. But that information is not available now, so it is not fair to measure the value of your decision on information you will only have after the decision is made.

Most challenges will have multiple ways they can be handled, and most of those ways will result in a healthy mother and healthy baby. When there are multiple ways to proceed safely, the decision is based on your priorities. This may mean your decision is different from other families you know, but it does not mean the decision is wrong.

You might change your mind about how to proceed. As you recieve new information it is beneficial to examine the way you are managing a challenge and determine if it still meets your goals. If you change your mind, it does not mean you made a bad decision at the begining. It only means you are doing a good job of responding to new information as it becomes available.