Chapter 11: Opening – stage 1 of labor
Your body is very tense.
You seem afraid.
It is very common for mothers to get
tense or afraid when labor starts to get
strong. Reassure the mother that pain
during labor is normal and helps bring
the birth closer. If you think it will help
the woman to relax, explain that when
she resists, labor may be longer. But do
not threaten or shame her.
Try relaxing your
arms and legs. You
are doing a great job!
The contraction is
over. How do you feel?
Mother is exhausted
It is normal for a mother to get very tired during labor. But if a mother gets
exhausted, she may have a longer, more dangerous labor, or labor may stop. If the
mother is very tired, give her weak tea with lots of sugar or honey, fruit juice, or
rehydration drink (see page 160). Find out which part of stage 1 labor she is in:
light, active, or late labor.
Light labor can go on for many hours or several days. If it does, the mother can get
very tired and discouraged. If you think the birth is still a long time away, the
mother should rest or sleep between contractions. Help her get comfortable and
relaxed. Give her liquids, encouragement, and maybe a massage and a bath (if the
bag of waters has not broken).
There may be traditional medicines or plants in your area that midwives use to
help women sleep — for example, hops (Humulus lupulus), passion flower
(Pasiflora), valerian (Valeriana), or kava root (Piper methysticum). If you know
sleep plants that will not harm the baby, she can try them now.
If the mother is in active labor but is not making progress, and the birth seems
many hours away, help her eat, drink, and relax. But you should also try to get
labor moving (see page 191). If she has been in active labor for more than
12 hours and birth is not near, take her to a medical center. Go sooner if the
medical center is far away.
A Book for Midwives (2010)