safe motherhood



If your labour started naturally and you are having regular contractions, but your cervix is opening up very slowly, it might be suggested to you that steps are taken to speed things up. This is to avoid the possibility of you becoming very tired, and the baby becoming stressed, as a result of a long labour.

Both of these eventualities increase the likelihood of you needing some form of instrumental assistance for your baby to be born (such as forceps, ventouse or caesarean).

There are two ways in which labour can be accelerated. The first is to have your waters broken artificially. This is done by a midwife using an instrument which looks rather like a long-handled crochet hook. The second option is to be given a syntocinon drip. Syntocinon is an artificial form of oxytocin, the hormone that makes the uterus contract. Accelerating labour may make the contractions stronger and harder to cope with. If you have a syntocinon drip, you will be advised to have continuous electronic monitoring, too which will restrict your mobility.

If it's suggested to you that your labour is speeded up, but you're happy to continue as you are and your baby's condition is satisfactory, ask for more time and suggest reviewing the situation later.

• Ask 'BRAN'. What are the BENEFITS of what's being suggested? What are the RISKS attached to it? Are there any ALTERNATIVES? What would happen if you did NOTHING?

• Play for time. Ask if you really need to make a decision immediately. If you can keep walking, and stay upright, rocking and wriggling your hips, this can help progress labour. An experienced midwife may be able to give you the confidence you need to give birth to your baby yourself in your own time.