Updated: Jun 3
I know the term "labor shakes" sounds like it might be a treat, but it's just another one of those totally normal, but crazy side effects that no one tells you beforehand. Not every birthing person experiences it, but when you do there’s no mistaking it.
Uncontrollable shaking, sometimes teeth chattering, body clenching. You can thank your hormones for this one. But it doesn’t really make it any easier.
This is a very common side effect of the transitional stage of labor and can last until after the birth. It is a result of the skyrocketing hormones that are present during this time. Sometimes medications which may be used during labor can also cause the body to shake. Later in labor, the stress hormone of adrenaline plays an important role in helping you become very strong in order to push your baby down. As your body gets closer to pushing, your adrenaline spikes dramatically.
The unfortunate side effect of this hormone rush is that it can make you very unsteady. The body can twitch and shake. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Can you think of a time you went through a very intense or stressful experience and you maybe experienced the adrenaline jitters?
This can also be what causes some people to feel panicked at this stage of the process. The sensations in the body are very intense at this point, this is when many laboring people can lose focus and want to give up. The shaking feeling can make the birthing person feel even more out of control. I will add that this sensation can be felt or observed even if the laboring person has pain medication.
Even with an epidural, transition can still cause: nausea or vomiting, panic, sweatiness and shaking.
If you are supporting someone through this process the best thing you can do is remain calm and remind then they are not alone. Get in close and tell them this is normal. It's a good sign you are getting very close to meeting your baby. The laboring person may need more physical and emotional support at this time. To steady their body and their mind.
Depending on the intensity of the shaking, it can temporarily limit your mobility. You may need to lie down in a more restful position or ask for more support from your partner, nurse or doula. They can help hold you in a position or can assist with things like bed changes, squat bars, peanut balls to steady you. Warm blankets can also help but you really just have to ride it out and try to breathe through it. Don't fight it and let it your body it’s thing. It will pass...
Did this happen for you? Have you heard of this part before? What other crazy things were you not prepared for?