Lactate - or tired muscles cannot do the job

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American bodybuilder

Not everybody wants to be a body-builder. But we can all appreciate the hard muscular work behind such a body. Did you ever go for a really intense run or take an exhausting exercise class? Then you have felt lactic acid at work. Your muscles will ache and after a while they will urge you to give up. This signal is induced by the build-up of lactic acid, which is a bi-product when the muscles produce energy. The more energy needed during the shorter time period, the more lactic acid, as there is not enough oxygen around.

Body building involves pushing the muscles beyond the comfortable.

So does child birth.

An enormous amount of energy is needed.

When you are about to give birth your will store energy from your foods. Carbohydrates and fats are turned into an energy molecule called ATP, which is the body’s basic fuel. But this ATP molecule will only stay stable for a short while. It has to be remade, and made again.

A delivery is the uterus at its hardest work ever. The harder the uterus has to work the more it has to rely on an energy production mechanism which might also be used during an ultra-hard session in the gym or on the running track.

It is called anaerobic energy production, where lactic acid is produced in the uterus, just as it is in other muscles. When the lactic acid level becomes too high, it is a sign that the muscle has been overloaded. And is about to give up.

Scientific studies have shown that a delivery is as physically demanding as a marathon. And in the same way that an exhausted marathon runner can run “into the wall”, where no more running is possible, a uterus can run “into the wall” during an overwhelming labour. The woman giving birth can feel she has no more energy, “nothing more to give”. Contractions stop.

The level of lactate in the amniotic fluid is a good indicator of the uterus being squeezed beyond its limits. The higher lactate levels indicate a more exhausted uterus, which will not be perceptible to further stimulation via for instance synthetic oxytocin. The woman instead needs rest, for the uterus to recuperate. Or, if the baby is at risk, an acute caesarean is the best solution. The lower lactate levels however, indicate that the uterus can respond to synthetic stimulation.

As women have different sizes and muscles, women also have different deliveries. The AFL®-method gives a strong indicator of what is actually going on in the uterus, a window into the unknown.