Hi Ladies :),

My husband and I are planning a home waterbirth for our baby who is due early this September. In general, when I get tired, I shut down and want to go to sleep immediately. But I'm aware that many women feel more tired than usual in the third trimester. How do you cope with tiredness during labor, particularly if it becomes longer than anticipated? Does being in labor suppress our increase feelings of tiredness (I guess this is an individual question)?  We are really committed to having a natural homebirth, and I guess I'm wanting to hear strategies and experiences so I feel more prepared for how this works during labor...

Cheers,
Marci

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If you're tired during labor, just take a nap. Seriously, at my home birth I took several naps during labor. When the contractions got intense enough to really wake me, it was time to get up and get moving or get into the tub. During the latest nap my hubby laid down behind me and put counter pressure on my sacrum during each contraction. We would doze between contractions and wake up just enough to get through each one. It was surprisingly restful and the rest was very helpful for the long labor. At one point my dilation went backwards and my midwife offered two options: get moving to try to get labor going more or if I was tired, rest. I was tired, so we rested. Listen to your body and you should be just fine.
In my experience, when I got sleepy during labor, I just took a nap. Labor resumed when I woke up and it worked out just fine!

It is important though in the last few weeks of pregnancy to make sure you are resting, exercising, and eating well, all in moderation. Don't over do anything!

Blessings to you
When the early contractions started and I was able to sleep I did. It can be hard with the excitement of knowing labor is starting and the tendency is to want to watch the clock and wait for each contraction. However, its best to sleep through it as long as you can (once the contractions get stronger sleeping won't usually be possible). I even had a few contractions that woke me up but I made myself go back to sleep. In my case, my contractions were pretty strong through the evening but stopped when I laid down to try to get some sleep at 11 PM. I went to sleep believing that it hadn't been the real thing since they stopped. At around 5 the next morning I started having some that woke me up but I forced myself to back to sleep. At around 6 they got strong enough that I wasn't able to sleep through them but I had been able to get several hours of much needed rest. I believe that the break in my contractions was nature's way of making sure I got some much needed sleep. So my strategy/advice would be that as soon as your contractions start (or you believe you are going into labor, no matter what time of day it is) have something light to eat then take a nap. Sleep until your contractions won't let you anymore. That way you get some sleep and your labor seems to go faster since you have slept through the first several hours :) Good Luck!!!
I agree with Sara, it can be really hard to fall asleep when you're so excited that it could be labor. But really, sleeping during that time is best. The other thing I'd like to add is that labor is simply a tiring event! Not to discourage you by any means, but being tired in labor is not an abnormal thing. I found that I fell asleep between contractions without even realizing it. I thought I was having contraction after contraction, but in reality, I would just pass out for 3 minutes before the next on began!
With my first birth, it lasted a normal amount of time (15ish hours). I was tired, but it was beside the point. My second birth was a lot longer than I expected (24ish). But again, the tiredness was beside the point. It's okay to be tired, it's okay to rest and rely on those around you.
Thanks for all the replies ladies :) - This is really helpful, as I've wondered how other woman have handled tiredness during labor. At least I have the go ahead to take naps where possible :) I think it's also great that we're shooting for a homebirth because it strikes me that if I decided to go to a hospital they might be less willing to just let me sleep when tired....I'd likely end up with a pitocin drip to speed things up. I'm really looking forward to our homebirth....and I really hope our baby stays in my tummy till at least 37 weeks so I can have the homebirth after all!!!
Hi Marci,

That's such a great question. As you say, everything is open to individual variation, but the general tendency is for labour - especially active labour, when you are working to get your cervix from 3 or 5 cm to fully dilated - to make you feel more tired. There are a couple of very obvious reasons for this:
1/ You are working very, very hard and
2/ You may not have had great sleep for the last few days (or even weeks)

There is at least one other element that plays strongly into this feeling of tiredness though, and it is a very important one to remember: hormones! The hormones that course through your body in labour are very powerful. One of the ways that you (or those around you) can tell that you are moving into active labour is that you seem to go into a kind of trance and become very internally-focused. This is often experienced as a tired feeling as well.

When you feel this way don't be discouraged! Many women think, "how on earth can I go on when I feel so tired"? Here are some tips:
1/ As everyone else has said, in prelabour and early labour take lots of naps (and before labour starts too!)
2/ Remember that your body is made to do this and even when you feel you can't go on there is something yet inside you that you can draw on. You will surprise yourself (probably many times).
3/ Remind yourself (or have someone remind you) that the hormones of labour can make you feel sleepy or groggy and that this is not necessarily an indication that you don't have enough energy to continue.
4/ Try not to clock-watch. Labour has its own time which is more akin to how we experience time in our dreams than in waking life. Try to allow yourself to exist in this dreamtime and it will help you get through your labour.
5/ Really take your rest in-between contractions. As you are coming out of a contraction, say to yourself, "this one is going away; I feel relaxation returning to my breath, my shoulders, my belly, my bottom, my legs". Blow the contraction away like a bit of dandelion fluff. Sink deep into the in-between. Close your eyes. Sleep if you can.

Others might have ideas to add to this list, but it is a good place to start.

All the best on your journey!

Be well,

Aimée

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