The “shakes” are a symptom associated with labor and the early postpartum period and are NOT often discussed or addressed during prenatal education.

Imagine the intensity of active or transitional labor…

The power of your body and baby working together to birth your child is enough to cause nausea and vomiting. Abundant releases of the hormones oxytocin and beta-endorphin are rushing through your body and you are working harder than you ever have in your life.

These extreme hormone releases coupled with the fact that we are giving birth to our children, is why this experience has such a profound effect on us as women. Never in our lives, has our body worked so hard or done so much. For nearly 50% of women, this hormonal release leads to teeth chattering shakes. These shakes tell our loved ones that we need a blanket. We do not. We are not cold. We are having a physical reaction to labor and it is very normal.

There is no way to truly physically prepare for this event. No amount of practicing, no workout, no trainer, that can take us to this “place” prior to the big day.

Dr. Henry Klapholz an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard University, has a different theory. According to him, new evidence about why nearly 50% of women shake during labor points to small amounts of fetal blood making it’s way into the mother’s bloodstream. He explains that if the baby’s blood is “incompatible” with it’s mother’s (mother is A, baby is B or some other combination) it will cause maternal shakes, shivers or chills.

What we can do is be prepared mentally. We can have an understanding of all of the possible scenarios that may occur so that if something out of OUR ordinary reveals itself, we can recognize it as a potentially normal sign of labor, birth or the early postpartum period.

I for one, will not be telling my clients that they are not compatible with their babies. Sometimes evidence and what “just makes sense to us” differ, and we need to find an answer that feels right to us.

I’m goin’ with hormones on this one!

Authored by: Randy Patterson