Well, you have waited a long time and the big moment for you and your growing family is fi nally here! You are in early labor—what emotions are you feeling? Probably excitement, nervousness . . . and a bit of euphoria. Last-minute bets are on for the babies’ actual birthdate or birth time.

But no doubt, what will probably also be on your mind is now what? My body has made it up to this point beautifully; the baby is ready to make its entrance into a whole new world. Hormonally, my body is also doing what it’s supposed to do. Still, is there anything I need to do to get this ball, or should I say baby rolling? Well, the answer is YES!

Why Movement in Labor is So Important

Labor has always been a process of movement; using position changes to work with gravity will help you have shorter labor and feel more empowered in your birthing experience. Research also shows that frequent position changes help you feel more comfortable, and they also help baby with the movement needed to make their exit from your body with their grand entrance into this world.

Did you know simply laying/sitting halfway upright and propping your leg on a device like a peanut shaped ball has the bonus of creating a faster labor even as it reduces the need for potential cesarean birth or additional medical procedures (including medications that can make labor more painful and require more intensive monitoring, decreasing your ability to move, and be in control of your own labor).

Peanut balls help expand the pelvic area, making more space for your baby to move into the larger part of your pelvis called the Pelvic Inlet. Guiding the baby in that direction will give baby the ability to make their entrance by flexing, rotating, and descending through that inlet! Wow, what a journey! Remember, movement and frequent position changes help this process toward baby’s big entrance.

For example, frequent position changes can also allow for stronger expulsive, more eff ective and less painful contractions. Continuous movement (about every 20-30 minutes for position changing) helps to move baby back & forth in the pelvis, which aids in those important movements described.

Your Hormones at Work

Your body’s hormones are working overtime in labor. Did you know your body’s hormones are what supports breastfeeding, maternal-infant attachment, and even bonding? The less we disturb this amazing hormonal process in labor the better chance you have for a birth that is healthy and safe.

How is that you wonder? Well once artificial oxytocin is started, laboring women are more likely to request an epidural. This type of anesthesia decreases your ability to move, walk (even to the bathroom) leading to the use of synthetic oxytocin to compensate. Prolonged use of synthetic oxytocin (also. known as Pitocin) may desensitize and or decrease your body’s natural oxytocin receptors and that can even lead to increased risk of a postpartum hemorrhage.

Let Your Body Do the Work

The best way to keep your amazing body doing the work it was designed to do until your baby is here in your arms is to literally Shake, Rattle and ROLL right through your labor and baby’s birth!

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LaShea Haynes MEd, MSN, APRN, AGCNS-BC, RNC, C-EFM, is Editor of Healthy Mom&Baby magazine, and a leader in obstetric nursing for more than 26 years. She is also a staff nurse, certified doula and founder & owner of her own nurse mentoring, education and consulting company.

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