There is an interesting article on the main Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond site about Intermittent Auscultation - this refers to monitoring the baby's heart rate during labour intermittently. This article discusses how some of the guidelines about monitoring the baby during labour can interrupt the mum and bring her out of that deep, primal state she needs to be in during labour (switching off the conscious side of her brain) to allow the contractions to occur as smoothly and efficiently as possible. At its worse, intermittent monitoring during labour could lead to the stalling of labour or a woman being unable to cope (when she previously has been) and these raise the risk of medical interventions.

Famous proponents of natural childbirth have long since been highlighting the importance of a woman feeling safe, comfortable and undisturbed in labour. Asking a woman questions during labour, creating background noise, talking, putting the lights on, touching her (with hands or equipment) can bring a woman out of her deep state of relaxation and take her focus away from being completely on her body and her baby.

Obviously there will be times where medical issues indicate that a woman must have some degree of monitoring or disturbance during her labour. However, for the majority of women labour can be natural and free of interventions. Are we giving these women a chance to have undisturbed labours or are we changing their course by intermittent auscultation?

How undisturbed were you during your labour? Did the monitoring of your baby interrupt your ability to breathe through the contractions or did you find it reassuring? Did background noises or voices interrupt the state you were in and how did this affect you?

Personally speaking, I have found it much easier to allow my body to relax when a contraction comes (and not tense up and resist it) when I am in the quiet and I am not touched. I have found a birthing pool useful to create a private space for me; in which I can 'go within myself' and switch off the outside world. Other factors which have helped me to have as undisturbed a labour as possible has been having a doula and choosing midwife-led care.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences on this.