A labour of LOVE
“There is nothing to escape from, nothing to avoid, nothing to oppose and nothing you cannot face or cope with or go through. Each contraction brings you closer to the goal of birth.” Janet Balaskas
First signs of labour may include:
- pre labour
- the “bloody show” or “mucous plug” dislodging
- occasionally the membranes rupture
- period tupe pain or dull back ache
Emotional signals that labour is impending:
- Feeling “over” the pregnancy, uncomfortable
- Feeling a little spaced out
- Feeling on edge or on the edge, waiting for labour to begin
The sensations can range from general aches and discomfort to specific pelvic cramps. These may be accompanied by braxton hicks contractions and will be irregular. You may feel your belly become firm for lengthy periods of time.
There are lots of hormonal changes occurring at this time. As your cervix begins to thin (efface) and stretch (dilate), you may notice a ‘bloody show’ of pink or red mucous, or a mucous ‘plug’ that is thick and opaque.
Bowel movements can be regular and loose at this stage. Your waters may break with a slow leak or a strong gush.
Conserve your energy. If possible stay relaxed and well rested. Hydrate and nourish your body if you can.
Stay aware of how you are emotionally and physically.
If you begin breathing gently, slowly and deeply at the onset of labour, you will always have somewhere to go with your breath, both in pace and effort, as labour intensifies.
“My breath in, my breath out, my life in, my child out,
In and out, down and out, open and out,
My love in, my life in, my love out, my child out”
Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, you can extend the exhale as labour intensifies. Because we can alter our breath voluntarily, conscious breathing has a direct effect on our mentality, allowing you and your baby to connect deeply throughout labour.
The upper layers of the uterus will contract to reduce the space while the lower layers stretch, relax and open to allow the baby’s release. The pressure and intense sensation of labour needs to be accepted, rather than fought against.
This describes the circular opening and thinning of the cervix and is characterised by rhythmic, regular contractions aprox 15-20min apart lasting 20-30seconds. Contactions/tightenings/waves become longer with less space between them. Some women have no pre labour and some experience contractions spaced a few minutes apart all the way through.
This is the time to manage your energy. Some mothers need to relax and lay down, while others need to be active to facilitate progress.
Keep drinking and eating.
Direct your breath to your pelvis.
You should empty your bladder every few hours. As needed, communicate with your birth team:
- remind me to focus during the contractions
- help me change position
- hold me/touch me like this
- tell me to bring my breath down
The energy and intensity leading into the second stage may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sweats, shakes and self doubt.
This interval describes the final opening of the outer edges of the cervix. The descending head against the cervix and the upper walls of the vagina creates immense pressure.
Your baby is ready to travel through your open cervix, vagina and towards your perineum (the expulsive stage).
Direct your breath into any areas that you feel pressure or intensity. Your body, breath and mind can work together energetically to help you push, at other times it may catch you off guard.
Continue to “let down” between contractions.
Placing your hand over your vagina, where you can feel your baby’s head emerge, may help you to align yourself to the birthing. Touch guidance may help you feel supported as baby’s head emerges, warm cloths on the perineum can help soften the tissue there and prevent tearing.
Change can help the decent of your baby, changing positions, posture, water/land etc.
There is lots of pressure on your rectum, the whole anal area needs to ‘flower’ open for your baby to emerge, do not resist this feeling.
As your baby is close to being born, you may feel emotionally and physically stretched to your limit.
The baby body will closely follow the head, in the next contraction or immediately. Stay present and focus your breath on your perineum.
This describes the birth of the placenta and the first contact between mother and child. Baby will begin to breathe, provided all is well. Within a few moments your uterus will contract rhythmically again, it will be more noticeable with second and third (and fourth) babies. The placenta will be birthed anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours after the birth of your baby. Once the placenta is birthed, you can truly rest.
Drink something warm to restore body fluids post birth.
Babies receive all life sustaining nourishment from the umbilical cord during pregnancy. The oxygen delivered through this cord gradually decreases after birth, triggering baby to breathe. The baby will instinctively seek nourishment at his mothers breast. The longer you can leave the cord attached, the less likely it is that unnecessary blood loss will occur.
While medically managing the delivery of the placenta with syntocinon is designed to reduce the risk of maternal bleeding, or postpartum haemorrhage, it seems that it actually leads to many of the problems that active management is designed to prevent.
It can lead to a newborn being deprived of up to half of her expected blood volume which is intended to perfuse the newly functioning lungs and other vital organs, thus possible complications such as breathing difficulties and anaemia are caused, especially in vulnerable babies. Further, continuing high levels of adrenaline will counteract oxytocin’s beneficial effects on the mother’s uterus, therefore, increasing the risk of haemorrhage.
Do you have a birth story that you would like to share? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org