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Stand and Deliver? There’s No Stopping Her

I recently read a post from another blog about the study cited in The Cochrane Library discussing patient mobility & upright positions in early labor. The summary talks of the authors’ conclusions that there’s evidence supporting walking and or upright positions in early labor which can reduce the total length of labor without being associated with any increase in medical interventions or untoward affects on mom or baby.

Thus I was immediately taken back to 1977, long before any such studies. This woman certainly didn’t read them! She wasn’t my patient…. my patient was in the bed next to her.  (No single labor rooms back in 1977.)

When she arrived on the unit, she was already entering active labor. Her contractions where about 2-4 mins apart lasting a good 60 seconds and she was WILDLY out of control. This was her first baby, and at 4 to 5 cm dilated, she was thrashing all over the bed refusing any measures of support, IV or pain medicine offered to her by her nurse. She was probably offered “Twilight Sleep” consisting of Scopolamine and some narcotic–which we used a lot and many mom’s had hallucination or delirious type side effects.

It is important to note here that this woman was 5 ft 11.5 in tall and probably weighed a good 225lbs.  I remember this because she seemed huge and I thought she was at least 6 feet tall and looked at her chart. Her nurse was only 4 ft 11.5. The doctor on duty that evening was of Asian decent, very petite and about 5 ft, 1 or 2 in.

Back to the poor mom in labor. I couldn’t help much because I was assisting my own patient and a few labor checks that were hanging around. No other labor coach or father of the baby around in those days… It wasn’t long before this run-away train of labor progressed to point where mom was fully dilated and had the urge to push. Many women of this body stature have quick, sometimes fierce labors…..I have no study, just my observation.
Here’s what happened:
Mom: “I have to get up out this bed
Nurse: “We have to start pushing now, I need you to take some deep breaths and when that next contraction starts, you can push with it.”
Mom: “Mmmh Hymmm I have to get up out this bed!!! Do you hear me???
Nurse: “I hear you, we can’t let you get up right now, the baby will be coming soon… Let’s try to focus on pushing”
Nurse: “I am trying to help you”
Mom: “I’m gettin up
Nurse: “Please try to relax”…blah blah blah

There was no stopping her. This woman stood up, ON THE BED, placed her hands on the ceiling, spread her legs and began to push—loudly !
There wasn’t anything to do except accommodate her. The nurse grabbed the “precip-tray” we use for emergency deliveries and called the doctor in. They put the large metal side rail down and these two tiny birth attendants were actually the perfect size to get in under her large frame and assist the delivery of the baby. It was an awesome sight!
I wonder if she ever reads about the research now and thinks back at how she was ahead of her time..she knew what her body needed to give birth.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. “Many women of this body stature have quick, sometimes fierce labors.”

    I’m going to go ask some midwives about this. It reminds me of the shoe size-to-pelvis correlation theory to which some docs and midwives used to subscribe. Big feet, ample pelvis, vaginal birth a go.

    I can personally attest to your observation on two accounts. =)

    April 16, 2009
  2. Birth_Lactation #

    Thanks for the comment Jill. I think you are right, I believe I have read something about the foot size and ample pelvis. Let me know what you find out. 🙂

    April 16, 2009
  3. This is a wonderful story and brings me a fantastic visual. THANKS for sharing. It also reminds me of my early days oasa labor nurse when I forced women to stay in bed. THANK God I know better now!!!

    April 17, 2009
    • Birth_Lactation #

      Hi Nicole- Thanks for stopping in and thanks for commenting. I intend to check out your website very soon! I bet you have a lot of stories of your own as well as valuable help to offer. One of my next planned stories is of our first VBAC, I keep remembering more as I go along. Thanks again! Melissa

      April 17, 2009
  4. Joy #

    I read all of your posts and I love the stories! I can’t believe how different things were just a few decades ago!!!

    April 21, 2009
  5. nursingbirth #

    Thanks so much for the pingback!! I LOVE this woman’s story. She was definitely listening to what her body told her to do!! AWESOME! Thanks again for linking!


    April 22, 2009
    • Birth_Lactation #

      Thank you Melissa! I love your blog and can relate to many of the “Don’t let this happen to you” stories! I will continue reading. Thanks for the comment. Melissa

      April 22, 2009
  6. Schwanie #

    Just found your blog, and I love it! Can’t wait to hear more stories from you!

    April 30, 2009
  7. What an awesome story Melissa! Thank you for sharing it. I do indeed wonder if she looks back and knows she was ahead of the times. Good for her. In a way I can relate too, being 6 ft tall and wanting to roll onto my hands and knees to deliver. It was in my birth plan, I had midwives and was in my own bed, but nobody wanted to help me or seemed to remember it was my wish to deliever that way, and although I had a great homebirth, looking back it was one thing I regretted. (there’s always something right?) I wish I’d had the guts to demand it. Oh well.

    April 30, 2009
    • Birth_Lactation #

      Thank You so much for your comment Melodie! I’m sorry that an important part of your plan wasn’t followed. It’s hard to let go of something that was really important to you. So sorry. Can’t understand why “nobody wanted to help you”! I’ve assisted with a couple deliveries like that and lots of pushing on “all 4’s”…. I don’t remember any because of maternal request, done more for alleviation of fetal decels. I’d love to hear why this was important to you sometime… you can email me. I have had MANY requests for squatting position deliveries or side lying. Sometimes honored and sometimes not. Just had knee surgery today and hopefully will write a lot while off. 🙂

      April 30, 2009
  8. I am totally intrigued by the “shoe size-to-pelvis correlation theory to which some docs and midwives used to subscribe. Big feet, ample pelvis, vaginal birth a go” mentioned above but thankfully that was not the case for me. My feet are very small, a size 3 1/2 & I have a normal to small-ish pelvis but, gratefully, I was able to have completely natural vaginal deliveries with no complications with all five of my little girls! I never pushed for more than 30 minutes with any of them & my 5th baby was caught by my nurse who didn’t even have a chance to put on her sterile gloves, on my one “practice” push. I realize what an absolute gift it was & I am so so grateful!

    June 10, 2012

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