Henci Goer has blogged for Lamaze's Science and Sensibility this week about a small study that suggests the high value of freedom and variation of mobility for laboring women.
Combine this with the ACOG's recently revised guidelines about external fetal monitoring (EFM). As a doula, as a woman in labor, I have seen how the fetal monitor seriously impedes a woman's range of motion. Movement, particularly bending over or forward, can either pick up the mother's slower heartrate or lose a heartrate altogether. The sheer frustration can make a woman surrender to the bed, despite her primal instinct to move with her labor -- if her care providers haven't already forced her to stay there for the sake of that printed read-out. But the ACOG now states that "although EFM is the most common obstetric procedure today, unfortunately it hasn't reduced perinatal mortality or the risk of cerebral palsy. In fact, the rate of cerebral palsy has essentially remained the same since World War II despite fetal monitoring and all of our advancements in treatments and interventions. " The low-tech and far less restrictive intermittent use of doppler radar or fetoscope, typically used in out-of-hospital birth, relays reliable information about fetal heart rate.
All the more reason for mamas to keep moving.