Prodromal labour was the name of the game this week. Four babies were born, who each gave their mums long prodromal labours (and some long active labours, too.) None of the births were "easy" this week. But they were all amazing and beautiful and triumphant.
What's prodromal labour? It's Slow Birth at its ironic finest. It's that part of birth that isn't really labour yet (patience, patience). It's the body trying to deal with something without making it too challenging for the mum. But, the body doesn't realize that the mum has a brain (a very intelligent and 21st century brain) that continually tries to figure out what's happening...why is this taking so long?...why am I not having a 2 hour labour?...when will it pick up?...why?...how?...when? All those questions are exhausting. Prodromal labour demands that we honour the needs and rhythms of the body, and shut down the thinking brain. Prodromal labour forces the reptile brain to kick in. My job is to remind the mum that she must trust her body and baby...they both have their reasons for taking their time.
To us mere mortals, long prodromal labours can be challenging and undecipherable. However, to the four babies this week, the slow progress made perfect sense. They tried to give us their messages, and we did our best to interpret them. We promise to remember the lessons we have learned this week, and listen even more closely to the babies in future!
So, what was going on for these babies?
Baby #1: "Ooops...Who knew you couldn't come out forehead first? No one left directions for me! I thought it was a creative option! (They had to back me up and take me out, OR-style. Mum and dad didn't fuss about the change in plans, because I'm just too darned gorgeous!)"
Baby #2: "Hey, mum, I had my hand smushed against my face! And that cord kept getting in my way! I'm glad you gave me time! (I had fun being born in the water, it really helped make more room for me, and I made sure I slid out without tearing my mum, and, and, my hair was washed as I came out!)"
Baby #3: "Okay, if you only knew that I was 9lb14oz, you guys would have given me a break and been okay with the hours that it took me to figure out the best way to slide into the world! (Those people catching me all thought my shoulders would get stuck, but nope, I just needed to take my time so I wouldn't hurt my mum.) "
Baby #4: "Now, you have to understand what it was like in there. I had to twist my head this way, tilt it to the side a bit, just like that, then I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could mold my head into a banana and slide out mum's hip. (Oh, I forgot to say "Thanks" to the obstetrician who used her tiny fingers to turn my head into the right position. It was a breeze after that!)"
Now...we're waiting for Baby #5, who has yet to arrive. This baby may or may not be very overdue...who really knows for sure? We'll just have to wait and see...
- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula, Slow Birth, Slow Planet
Jacquie Munro, founder of the "Slow Birth" movement, is an experienced doula and childbirth educator and is well-known for her individualized, intuitive approach to supporting families in the childbearing year and beyond. Since 1987, she has provided support at over one thousand births, at home and in hospital, and taught thousands of expectant parents. At home, Jacquie lives only a bike ride away from four generations of her family. You can usually find her at the park or beach, playing beside her twin grandsons who call her "Deecy".