The labor is the final part of the pregnancy. It is the moment when the body of the mother prepares to give birth to the infant she carried in her wound for nine months. Although every experience is different, there are some anatomical aspects that happen to the body. Throughout this article, you will find out what happens during labor, so that you will be able to get mentally and physically prepared for the birth process.
There are some signs given by your body that labor is approaching. It is an event that won’t start all of a sudden, as the body will need time to get prepared for this unique event. At first, you might experience a relieving feeling, like breathing more easily than before. As the child turns his head towards the exit of the uterus, your lungs won’t be so pressured anymore, and your tummy will appear rather smaller. Then you might feel the need to urinate urgently, as the head is now pressuring your bladder, forcing you to go to the restrooms more often.
You will experience some bloody secretions coming out of your vagina. These represent the former clog that kept the uterus sealed and infections free. If you also feel that fluid is coming out, it means that the membranes that were keeping the baby safe in the uterus are starting to break, letting the amniotic liquid out. Usually, labor will get installed in about 24 hours after this event started. The first contractions might appear. If you rush to the hospital, you might be amazed they will send you back home. Seldom contractions are not yet the sign of labor. When the contractions are starting to have a 10 minutes frequency, this is the sign you were waiting for.
The entire labor has three phases. The first stage is divided into two other phases, the latent and the active phase. During the latent phase, you will experience constant contractions, which have as purpose the dilatation of your cervix. It is the way your body prepares to allow the baby to come out of the uterus. In the active phase, the cervix starts expanding more rapidly until it is completely dilated, and that is about 10 cm or more, in diameter. The contractions also begin to be more intense in pain and frequency. It means that your baby is finally ready to come out and meet the world. The fontanels, or the soft spots on the baby’s head, will allow him to pass through your cervix without a problem.
The second phase of the labor begins when the doctor gives you a green light to pushing. It means you reach total dilatation, and the birth is ready to start. You will experience intense internal pressure that will drive you to push. When the head appears at the entrance of the vaginal opening, you might experience a sensation of stinging and burning. As soon as the head is out, the doctor will clean the baby’s nostrils and mouth, of any blood and mucus, to allow him to breath. You will have to keep pushing until his shoulders, and then the rest of the body, are completely out.
In the third, and last, phase of the labor, you will deliver the placenta that offered protection for your baby while inside the wound. It is something that might take about 10 minutes if everything goes right. The entire labor, together with the delivery process, lasts to average about 12 to 14 hours. There are cases of shorter labors but are not met too often.
Breathing techniques during labor
Having a proper breathing will not only help you relax and stop focusing on the pains of the labor, but will also provide you, and your baby, with the necessary amount of oxygen. Here are some great breathing techniques for labor period:
- Use the word relax, to breathe in and breathe out. Inspire on “re” and expire on “lax”. Keep the same timing and length of both movements. The breathing should have a rhythmicity.
- Count to three when breathing in, and count again when breathing out.
- Try inspiring through your nose, and expiring through your mouth. Keep the mouth relaxed and have small sips of water, between contractions, to avoid it getting too dry.
How to push during labor
There are two types of pushing during labor. One is the coached pushing and the other respects the natural urge to push. Coached pushing means that your doctor will tell you to start pushing when you are fully dilated. Your body will not give you the signals to push right at that moment, so the doctor will tell you when to push and how long to push.
The other method is more natural, and it follows the way your body dictates the way to push. Usually contractions and accumulated inside pressure will drive you to push naturally, to allow the baby to come out of the uterus. The entire body is getting ready for the birth, through the steps of labor. So pushing will also come naturally at the right time. So if you feel the need to push, then push. Take a little time and push again, when you feel ready.
How to ease contractions
While entering labor and waiting for the moment of the birth to come, contractions will start being more and more painful, and more frequent. You can diminish their intensity by blocking the messaged sent by your brain. Choose to focus more on breathing techniques, ask your partner to help you with the countdown, or focus your attention on a pleasant picture. Visualizing the labor pains as a benefits event, like the coming of descending of the baby, can make you more excited and happy, which will reduce the pain. Making a lot of physical movement before, and even during the labor, can also help, by strengthening your muscles.