In my experience, as the baby grows and your body changes in pregnancy, so does your intuition relative to the wellbeing of yourself and baby. And while many people seem keenly aware of and reactive to what their gut tells them in other aspects of life, some find it hard to do so when they’re pregnant. I think part of this may stem from the fact that everything is so new with a first pregnancy, so you tend to rely on books or others’ advice to decide if what you’re experiencing is normal. I strongly suggest trusting your gut and bringing any concerns and questions, no matter how silly they may feel, to your care provider. Of course, you can also run them past your doula first if you feel like you need a filter for all of the questions that may arise. Your care provider should be willing to listen to your concerns and answer questions. If you feel like you’re not being heard, it’s never too late to consider interviewing and possibly switching providers.
During labor, being in tune with what your mind and body are telling you is also important. For example, maybe you’ve been on your back in the bed, but you feel like you should get up and change positions. It could be that your baby is trying to move to an optimal birthing position and your body wants to help the baby along. Listening to your body comes into play during the pushing phase of labor. ACOG states: “In the absence of an indication for expeditious delivery, women ... may be offered a period of rest of 1–2 hours (unless the woman has an urge to bear down sooner) ...”* This means that some people will rest before they begin the pushing phase, and there are cases when it is okay to do so. Most of the time, you can also listen to your body in terms of how you push. Again, from ACOG: “When not coached to breathe in a specific way, women push with an open glottis. In consideration of the limited data regarding outcomes ..., each woman should be encouraged to use the technique that she prefers and is most effective for her.”*
So while books and Facebook groups may be your first stop when you have questions, don’t forget that each pregnancy is unique. Your intuition is important and you should always feel safe sharing information with and asking questions of your care provider and birth partners. You know best how and what you’re feeling- it is your body, your pregnancy and your birth.