How can I speed up a slow labor?
Women have been asking that question for generations, and there are many ways to answer it. The idea that the only way to handle a slow labor is with artificial oxytocin is a bit shortsighted, which is good news for the home birthing mother. There are a few causes of a slow labor, and it may take trial or error to find out which techniques work best for you.
The first thing to consider is the position of the baby. Often a baby who is not resting evenly on the cervix or whose head is not aligned properly in the pelvis will require a slow labor to move the baby. In this case, using positions to encourage your baby to move will help speed labor along.
The second thing to consider is your hydration. A dehydrated mother will have a slower, more uncomfortable labor. If you feel hungry, eat something. Your body needs energy to labor and your slow labor may be giving you the time you need to get that energy. You may also find that after you eat something or drink some water your contractions stop. This is normal with prelabor.
You may also want to consider the possibility your body needs rest. If you are tired or have not slept within a reasonable amount of time a slow labor may be your body's way to provide the rest you need. If contractions are still light enough to sleep through, do it. You will not sleep through the birth of your baby. If contractions demand too much attention to sleep through, choose a relaxing position and try to sleep between contractions.
Read about comfort measures to learn a variety of positions, tools and techniques to help you work with your labor. In addition, the Labor Challenges section can help you identify issues in your labor that may cause it to proceed more slowly than average so you can address the problem, not the symptom.