Freedom of Movement in Labor

Sitting at a birth I was quietly holding space for a Doula client. What does that mean? Holding space is when we allow a mom who is calm and coping well to have the space she needs to continue her hard & effective work. When a Doula holds space, we are saying with our stillness and silence, “you are doing a great job and all of this is normal”. It provides reassurance to both the laboring Mom and her family. 

What struck me as I sat there, was my view in that hospital Labor & Delivery room. In front of me, despite an active birth, was an empty bed with the monitor straps left behind. I want every one of you planning a hospital birth to know that freedom of movement and intermittent monitoring is a safe option for most moms and should be discussed with your care provider. 

Why freedom of movement & intermittent monitoring? Lamaze has 6 healthy birth practices that my childbirth education course is based around and one of them is, “walk, move around and change positions throughout labor”.  Movement in labor not only makes coping and comfort measures easier for the mom, but also helps move baby down and move into the best position throughout labor. 

When you are making your birth plan, I would ask you to consider if your environment and care provider will support movement and position changes throughout labor.  Questions to ask your care provider on this topic include:

  1. Would Intermittent or wireless monitoring be an option during my labor?
  2. Would I be supported in finding a comfortable position while on the monitors (i.e. sitting on a birth ball, sitting up in bed, side lying or standing beside the bed)?
  3. Would you support my choice to have a hep lock vs an IV?  If an IV were necessary would I be supported in movement while the IV was in place?
  4. May I walk the halls?
  5. May I shower or bathe?

I hope that this list of questions will help you choose a birthing environment and OBGYN or Midwife who will support you the way this mom was supported. How did you ensure your own freedom of movement during labor? Did you experience both labor with movement and labor in bed? What differences did you notice? Have you included Freedom of Movement in your birth plan? Leave me a comment below, I'd truly love to hear about your experience.