I've finally gotten around to working on this. If you missed my first post on Maslows Heirarchy, go to my links on the right.
1. Physiological Needs
Needs required to sustain life. These include such things as air, water, sleep, and nourishment.
During labor, it seems that the whole process seems to take over all our other needs. The sheer mental capacity that it takes to work through contractions is enormous for most women, and our basic needs are often forgotten in the effort. It's interesting to watch women after they get an epidural. They all of sudden remember those basic needs. They'll ask for food or drink , or pass out exhausted. I had never thought about it much until I started thinking about this first level of needs. Labor distracts us from meeting these needs.
For this reason, I feel that those of us who care for laboring women really need to make an effort to remind them. Now, I don't think this means that we should tell them that they need to eat and drink, but rather remind them to pay attention to whether they need to eat or drink, and what their bodies are telling them that they should have. I remember even appreciating my midwife reminding me that I may need to go to the bathroom:)
Fatigue is also a huge one during labor. Especially for first time moms whose labors are usually longer and are uncharted territory. I really like to take a lot of my time during the first part of labor trying to rest as much as possible. This not only helps me to have more energy, it helps me cope with the harder contractions later down the road that demand more of my attention. I encourage women that I take care of to let labor happen instead of pushing it and using this first part of labor as a time to pamper yourself. Take a bath, eat, drink, take a nap if you can. I feel like too often when we start labor, we get all excited and want to push ourselves at the beginning to keep labor going. My personal philosophy is what I've said above. Lay low, rest, and let labor happen. Allow your body to gear up for the long haul.
These first basic needs are really so important and can effect how our labor progresses and how we feel about our birth.