Labor and birth 243
For muscle cramps and spasms (sudden stiff muscles)
during labor and birth
Women with cerebral palsy, a spinal cord injury, or who are paralyzed from polio
can get cramps or tight spastic muscles at any time during labor and delivery. Tight
muscles in any part of the body are affected by the position of the head and body.
Pulling or pushing directly against the spastic muscles will cause them to tighten
more. Here are some suggestions for softening spastic muscles during labor:
Throughout labor, do range-of-motion
exercises (see page 95) between
contractions. If necessary, have
someone help. The exercises will
keep muscles loose and help prevent
cramps and spasms.
To help the muscles
relax, sit in a bath of
clean warm water,
but only before the
bag of waters has
Cloth soaked in clean,
warm water may help.
Put something under the
head and shoulders to
bend them forward. This
will help relax stiffness in
the whole body.
Do not try to pull a woman’s
legs apart at the ankles.
This will make her legs pull
together more tightly. Instead,
after lifting her head and
shoulders, bend her legs.
To separate her legs, first bring
the knees together. This may
unlock the legs. If not, hold
the legs above the knees and
they will open more easily.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007