I do believe what people say about the pain of labor being communication between our bodies and our babies. Pain is a kind of body knowledge, information that travels in sensations. Knowing about the mechanics of labor can help translate that knowledge into action. When I was pregnant with DD1, I heard that it was important to trust my body, that my body knew how to give birth. Trust birth.
I think there is something about the shape of my pelvis that lends itself to birthing OP babies. Both my babies were OP and I had two quick labors. 10 hours active labor with DD1, and with DD2 my contractions didn't get regular at all, or very painful, until about 30 minutes before I had the uncontrollable urge to push.
DD1 was OP with a nuchal hand. I labored on my hands and knees for hours and saw very little progress. Then I vainly tried to push her out while on my hands and knees. Finally, the doctor suggested I get up on the bed and rest and I was so exhausted I was relieved to have someone telling me what to do. The nurses held my legs up, so basically like a laying down squat, and that's how I pushed her out. I needed to be directed in my pushing and I think it was necessary because I was so exhausted. I had a small tear that needed stitches.
When I was laboring with DD2, I was more prepared. I had learned some relaxation exercises, and movements to relax my ligaments. She didn't have that nuchal hand, and it helped! I knew about different positions that I could labor in to help my baby move through my pelvis. I knew she was OP and she remained that way throughout my labor and was born that way. I paid close attention to my pain and moved with it and through it, and the labor was much easier - so much so that I believed, right up until the moment I found myself pushing, that I had the better part of the day to go.
While I labored, I did not stay in a hands and knees position for more than one or two contractions. Instead I experimented with lunging and going up and down stairs and lifting my belly. All these things helped so much that my labor was very easy to manage, but I never would have tried them if I'd been relying just on my sense knowledge because my instinctive reaction to pain is to scrunch up instead of breathing and moving.
The second stage took 30 minutes. I pushed her out while on my hands and knees (at home, paramedics came while she was in the birth canal bc precipitous). It was overwhelming - like I fell over on my hands and knees and couldn't have moved without help. I did end up tearing again and needing more stitches, because once she was crowning I could not wait to push her out.
We didn't know DD2's cord was prolapsed. I felt it with my hand, pressed tight around the side of her head, but didn't understand what it meant. I often wish I'd been able to stay vertical because she might have come faster I'd been able to stay upright, maybe lunging or squatting. I no longer blame myself for not knowing these things, because in the end.... what happened to her is pure bad luck, and I could only know what I knew. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things that could have helped. And I wish I knew then what I knew now.
If she had come faster, she might have lived. My water didn't break until I started pushing and I immediately felt her come down about a third of the way. Then I fell over and couldn't stand back up and was too disoriented to ask for help. So then, I pushed for 10-15 minutes and she didn't really move. There may have been some molding happening. Time moved quickly, and it felt like a matter of moments, but it was a long time. Finally, I was able to ask for something to lean on, I sat up to roll the ball underneath me, and then I felt her move down more as I did that, and she was born about four contractions later. Instinct would have done the trick if everything had been normal, but it wasn't enough. My instincts were telling me to get her out as fast as possible, but I couldn't make it happen faster. I was pushing between contractions and without knowing her life was at risk, I was begging her to come out. But we needed someone to recognize right then that her cord was pinched and that I needed to probably be in any position but on my back or on my hands and knees (both slow downward descent, good for a fast labor if worried about tearing, not good when the speed of the birth means life or death or brain damage), and that all had to happen in the very next contraction or two.
I do not trust birth at all. What I took away from my second daughter's catastrophic birth, is that knowledge is important (both the sense knowledge of the body - pain, etc - and knowledge of mechanics), skills are helpful, and efficacy is real, but control is an illusion. And that birth is nothing to put my trust in, because nature doesn't care if my baby lives or dies.