Longer Labors & Bigger Babies: This Ain't Your Mama's Pregnancy

labor and deliveryI'm sorry to break the news to you, but if you are nervous about having a long, drawn out labor and delivery when you reach the end of your pregnancy, you should be. Because odds are good that giving birth to your baby will probably take longer than you think.

New research from the National Institute of Health indicates that the process of going into labor and giving birth is much longer for women nowadays than it was 50 years ago. In fact, the time duration has increased by a whole 2.6 hours. Women back in the day typically only labored for about four hours tops, while moms-to-be today average out at 6.5 hours.

And aside from taking a lot more time to breathe and push your way through the experience, babies are also being born heavier than they were in the 1960s, and they are showing up an average of five days earlier.

So -- what's the deal?

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There are a few factors that may contribute to the discrepancies in the labor times, including more C-sections, more frequent use of epidurals, and bigger babies in general. But the researchers' findings seem to suggest that the prolonged labors can be accounted for because more and more obstetricians are not letting labor "run its natural course," which I'm assuming means there are quite a few more women being induced than there were 50 years ago.

And based on my own experience with labor and delivery, I can't help but think there must be some truth to this.

I was induced a full 10 days early with my son because of his large size. My doctor did not want him getting over 8 pounds, because she didn't think I'd be able to deliver him vaginally if he weighed more than that. And luckily, when he was finally born, he weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce. May I emphasize the word "finally"? Because it took him a full 24 hours to show up after I checked in for the initial induction. And it took a magic pill inserted into my cervix, my doctor breaking my water (which hurt like hell), and a hefty dose of pitocin to get things moving.

I often wonder just how big my son would've been if I'd gone into labor naturally, and I'm also curious as to whether my birth experience would have been much different. All in all, I'm glad I was induced because I was able to have a vaginal birth, which was amazingly surreal and emotional. But if I were to do it all again, would I still want that induction? Hmm. I think the jury's still out on that one.

Have you and your doctor talked about inducing labor early?

 

Image via Daquella manera/Flickr

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