Google Maps, GPS, Garmin...as someone who has always been missing that "internal compass" that I've heard wonderful things about, I am very grateful for their existence. I depend on them (probably way more than necessary) whenever I need to go somewhere unfamiliar. And 95% of the time, the ETA on the GPS is right on. I have no idea how it can be so accurate, but I'm sure it involves lots of technology and maybe invasions of privacy. Who knows. But I can have the confidence that if Google Maps tells me that "your route is clear and I should reach my destination at 5:00 pm", that I almost certainly will arrive at 5:00, or within a couple of minutes of that time.
There is something SO reassuring about that certainty. I can plan my day around it. I can schedule an appointment and not worry about getting lost for 20 minutes. I can tell my kids that I'll be back at a certain time.
In our modern lives, we are now accustomed to being able to schedule most things. We like to have the assurance that we know what's happening and when. How long events will last. It is likely this desire to know WHEN labor will start and how long it might last that drives the routine measuring of cervical dilation before and after labor begins. But guess what?
YOUR CERVIX IS NOT LIKE GOOGLE MAPS. Any measurement only tells you where you ARE. Not where you were, where you are going, how you'll get there, or how long it will take.
What if the cervix WAS like Google Maps? Well, a cervix at 3cm dilation with regular contractions would give baby and ETA of about 8 hours. 7 cm? Baby's ETA= 4 hours. And in reality, this mindset is common! Here's an example:
I really cannot stress this enough, because this confidence in the predictive power of the cervix is now ingrained into how we think about birth in the United States. So, what's a better illustration for the cervix? I think I've found one.
The cervix acts more like a TARDIS.
Sometimes you might feel like you are stuck in the present dilation, with no end to labor in sight...
Or maybe you are feeling like labor will never begin, even though the cervx is "ready"...
You might feel that your cervix skipped past early labor straight to the really difficult part and didn't even ask permission.
Did you know that your cervix can UN-Dilate? Yep. I've seen it happen. But it doesn't matter! Because it can dilate again faster than it did before!
Or maybe you feel that you missed labor completely and jumped straight from pregnancy to motherhood.
AND THAT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL
So please, please...don't think of your cervix like Google Maps. So much more is involved in the labor process than dilation. The cervix has to soften, your baby signals that he's ready, the uterus has to contract, baby has to rotate and descend, ligaments need to stretch, etc. Try to remember that even if you read a hundred birth stories, that yours will be unique. Gather a great, positive birth team, trust your intuition, take every contraction one at a time, and enjoy your ride on the labor TARDIS.
What do you think?
3/1/2016 04:40:14 pm
This is so great!
3/1/2016 07:00:56 pm
Fabulous!! I am totally digging your analogy! The TARDIS will never be thought of the same way again! 😂😂😂
3/1/2016 09:05:23 pm
This is so fun. Made me laugh out loud and I'm definitely sharing. Thanks for your light, clever way of explaining the unexplainable.
Beyond Birth Support- Sara
3/2/2016 08:51:44 am
Thanks for your nice comments! I'm so glad that so many have enjoyed it :)
3/3/2016 03:38:28 am
So true! I will definitely be sharing your analogy. I have had several mums in my HypnoBirthing classes who went from 3cm to having a baby within an hour. I can only imagine how much more enjoyable that last hour would have been for them if they trusted what their body was telling them instead of assuming they were still in the early stages of labour. Thank you.
3/5/2016 05:59:22 pm
I've witnessed and experienced the same thing! I hope this post helps get across what I try to explain to mothers :) you are welcome to print it with credit.
3/3/2016 05:02:30 am
This is so brilliant- light-hearted and so true!
3/3/2016 05:38:28 pm
Love it, Will be using this analogy for my Childbirth courses and in birth Suite.
3/10/2016 04:18:18 am
The question is: Why is this not common knowledge in obstetrics?
Beyond Birth Support
11/30/2016 10:46:24 pm
I totally agree...but honestly I think it's something that developed due to the inclusion of the male obstetrician...men do tend to like to measure things more than women. They tend to be more data oriented and dependent than women. That's my theory anyway.
3/13/2016 07:38:14 pm
I love it!! Finally more and more people (women) begin to understand that the body is not working like a clock (or google maps) but is instead a unique, sometimes fragile sometimes powerful system of thousands of cells, organs, nerves, masses and fluids. Great article, thank you for writing and posting!!!! <3
3/16/2016 06:04:22 am
I really like your analogy and one I will be sharing..
4/17/2016 09:52:11 am
This is really clever, and a great way to share the message! Good job, I will also be sharing this on my FB page!
6/16/2016 02:09:02 pm
Thanks for this. Will share on my FB page.
11/30/2016 10:18:11 pm
This is fantastic!!! please let me know when you have small TARTIS key chains or small plush toys made!! I would love to invest in several to hand out at my childbirth classes as well as to the hospital staff! Brilliant article!
Beyond Birth Support
11/30/2016 10:49:14 pm
Haha! I'm glad you like it! But I'm pretty sure that the TARDIS is patented, copywrite protected..all of those things lol. But please share with students or whoever!
1/19/2017 01:12:01 pm
This is the best!!! As a doula, CBE, a Doctor Who fan, and a mom who "skipped" that first part of labor completely (9 cm after only 3 hours of labor)... this post is SPOT ON. I love it!
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I look at birth from the perspective that our bodies are wonderfully made, and if we really believe that and work with the birth process and nourish our bodies properly, they will function optimally, most of the time!