April finally had her calf! Her labor was very public (to say the least) and it was over almost as fast as it started. If you know me personally, you know that I love giraffes, so I was very excited when I found out a new calf would soon be born. As I was watching April I realized there is a lot we can learn from wild animals in labor.
What can we learn from April?
- Pregnancy lengths vary and “due dates” are rarely accurate – After watching April from mid-February, I’m sure many know that giraffes are pregnant for 13-15 months (talk about an “estimated” due date!). Zoo staff estimate that April was pregnant for about 16 months. Did you know that in humans “term” pregnancies can vary by up to five weeks? 37-42 weeks are all considered different degrees of “term pregnancy.” Only about 5% of women deliver on their due date!
- Induction is often not necessary – In both giraffes and humans, interventions in birth are typically not necessary, though there are instances in both species where induction (or other interventions) are necessary for the health and safety of the mother and her baby.
- Giving birth upright has it’s advantages – For giraffes, the reasons are innate and evolutionary. In nature, they must be ready to run from predators at any time, so laying down to give birth would put them at risk. For humans, giving birth upright allows for gravity to help move the baby out the birth canal. Laying on your back closes your pelvic outlet by 20-30%! Not to mention you’re literally pushing against gravity to get your baby out (see image). Do what feels natural to you – that’s what giraffes do!
- Don’t let everyone know when you’re in labor – For giraffes, not showing that they’re in labor is an evolutionary advantage. Laboring animals are vulnerable and they don’t want to draw any attention from predators. With humans, not letting people know you’re in labor can save you from the endless barrage of “did you have the baby yet?” texts from well-meaning friends and family.
Blissful Birthing would like to extend its congratulations to April and her new calf!