Why I got plenty of sleep during Elina’s labour

Sleeping might seem like the last thing you should be doing when your wife has gone into labour. But there is a good reason to get some rest.

She has gone into labour, while you are snoring your head off in the bed next to her. Something wrong? You might think you should be awake to support her, but there is a good reason for you to be asleep.

Millions of years of evolution have made mammals pretty good at giving birth. Like breathing, most of it happens automatically. Hormones pulse around your body, directing your emotions and subtlety controlling your behaviour.

One of the hardest things about labour is not the pain itself, it is the sheer exhaustion of the whole thing. You can be in labour for days, with little or no sleep, and yet somehow women find the strength to go on. They do so because their body makes sure they do, injecting careful amounts of oxytocin and adrenaline at the required times.

Birth partners do not have the benefit of this of course. Things have changed a lot in the past 50 years. We are no longer in the waiting room with a cigar; now we are at our partner’s side helping her through the birth. Mother Nature has not cottoned on to this, though, and leaves us with a few vicarious hormones at best.

So, after 72 hours of sleep deprivation, exactly how helpful are you going to be as a birth partner? This is an important question because when your partner reaches transition, she is going to rely on your support to get through it. If you are barely functioning because you have had no sleep, you are not going to be in a great shape to do that.

Sleeping through half of the labour might seem a selfish thing to do. In reality, though, a somewhat rested birth partner is going be to able to offer far more support than one who is utterly exhausted.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 at 11:00 am and is filed under Family & Parenting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.