Doulas can’t check a laboring woman’s cervix, or perform medical procedures, but knowing where a woman is in labor is a very helpful skill. Experience with laboring women helps us figure it out. Nicole D. who writes the blog, Bellies and Babies, has a very helpful article that describes multiple ways to help a woman figure out her labor progress.
Some methods that can help a caregiver or doula know how dilated a woman is during her labor include:
- Teach self exams
- Sounds she makes
- Smell of the room or the mom
- Bloody Show
- The bottom line
- Physical Make-Up
- Fundal height
- Symphysis Crease
- Mexican Hot Legs
Her article is nicely descriptive and helpful. I had a birth recently during which I used the Mexican Hot Legs technique. It worked for me! I was able to gauge her labor progress very well. Nicole describes this:
“As the birthing woman’s body works harder, blood is withdrawn from the extremities to be utilized by the womb. Thus, the woman’s legs get progressively colder from the ankle to the knee as labor progresses. At the start of birth, the whole leg will be warm. At around 5 cm, the leg will be cold from the ankle to around mid-calf than it is above the calf. Once the whole leg feels cold up to the knee, then the urge to push should shortly follow.
This technique is less reliable if the woman is having an epidural, as the drugs will also affect the temperature of the hands and legs. If a woman is birthing in water then she’d need to be on dry land for around 20 minutes to allow the temperature in her legs to be measured accurately. “