Care for the mother during labor
Guide the labor
When you guide the labor, you help the labor stay on a healthy path. You can
guide the labor by helping the woman care for her body. At different points you
might suggest that she drinks, urinates, rests, or moves. In the next 3 chapters,
there will be many more suggestions about how to guide the labor to stay on a
Help her drink at least
1 cup of liquid each hour
If the contraction
is over, I’d like you
to take a sip.
A woman in labor uses up the water in her
body quickly. She should drink at least 1 cup of
liquid each hour. If she does not drink
enough, she may get dehydrated (not enough
water in the body). This can make her labor
much longer and harder. Dehydration can also
make a woman feel exhausted.
Signs of dehydration:
• dry lips
• sunken eyes
• loss of stretchiness of the skin
• mild fever (up to 38°C or 100.4°F)
• fast, deep breathing (more than
20 breaths a minute)
Lift the skin on the back
of her hand with 2
fingers. Then let go.
• fast, weak pulse (more than 100 beats a minute)
If the skin does not
fall right back to
normal, the woman
• baby’s heartbeat is faster than 160 beats a minute
If you think the mother may be dehydrated, immediately give her water with
sugar or honey, fruit juice, or a rehydration drink (see next page).
Some women cannot drink much in labor. It makes them feel sick, or they
vomit it up. If the mother is vomiting and cannot drink a whole cup of liquid at
once, let her take small sips after every contraction. This way she will get liquid
without upsetting her stomach. These liquids may be easier to drink for women
who feel sick: coconut water, fruit juice mixed with water, water with sugar or
honey in it, or peppermint, ginger, or chamomile tea with honey or sugar.
If the mother cannot drink at all, or if she is already very dehydrated, give her
rectal fluids (see page 342) or IV fluids (see page 350).
If the labor is long, or if the mother has not been eating or drinking much, give
her rehydration drink. (In fact, any woman in labor can drink this.) This drink
helps keep the chemicals in the mother’s blood balanced so she does not get sick.
A Book for Midwives (2010)