What’s Laboring Down?

laboring down

Whew! You made it! You’re finally at 10 cm dilated, that means it’s time to start pushing, right? Well… maybe not yet.

Dilation is only one small part of the coordinated efforts made by your body and your baby’s in order to be born. Other things that need to happen are effacement, tilting of the cervix AND your baby’s “station.”

Station is a measurement of the top of your baby’s head in relation to two bony protuberances on the pelvis called the ischial spines. If your baby’s head is above these bumps, her station is referred to in a negative number. If her head is below them, the number will be positive. Your midwife or doctor will be able to gauge dilation and station during a cervical exam.

When birthing women “labor down,” they simply allow the contractions of their uterus to continue to squeeze baby lower into the pelvis, if necessary, and wait to start pushing. 

Research has shown that this technique may decrease severity of tearing, time spent pushing, episiotomies, admissions to NICU and increases APGAR scores.

If you’re interested in exploring whether this is right for you and your baby, be sure to talk with your doctor or midwife prenatally and during labor about the possibility of trying it.

About Amy Lewis

Amy is certified by ProDoula as a labor doula, postpartum and infant care doula and postpartum placenta specialist. She was certified by the Healthy Children Project and the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice as a lactation counselor and is a birth, newborn and breastfeeding educator.

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