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Uterine Surges and Oxytocin
Uterine Surges and Oxytocin
It's normal to worry about birth being painful. It's natural to feel this way. Don't worry if this is where you are right now. You're not alone.
Fear often comes from not knowing. Taking time to understand what happens during birth helps.
Those intense sensations - very often painful - come from surges or uterine contractions. The uterus consists mainly of muscle fibres. During labour, those muscle fibres will contract under the influence of birth hormones - which crash upon you like a hormonal orchestra.
Many mums-to-be worry that they won't know what a surge feels like but you might. You may well have experienced contractions when you had your period or when you experienced an orgasm. At these times, your body is under the influence of the beautiful hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin plays a hugely important role in the birth. Fill your body with it. More on that in my other posts.
The main role of surges is to help the neck of the womb - also called the cervix - to soften, shorten and dilate. You need those three things for labour to progress. Contractions help your baby to move. Your baby has to move into the birth canal and then out of it. Your surges help this to happen.
How? Contractions start at the top of the uterus which wraps itself around your baby and helps to move your baby down. Your baby moves and rotates during birth and also follow a certain amount of neck extension and neck flexion movements. There has to be movement for your for your baby to come through the birth canal and out into the world.
Work with your baby as a team - help each other. There are a number of things you can do to make your baby's job a little bit easier and more efficient.
- breathe deeply and relax to allow your body to soften;
- optimise the space within your pelvis as this is the space your baby has.
In early labour, make sure that your pelvis is upright. Come into standing or squatting positions so that gravity works with you. As you transition into more active labour, make sure your tailbone gets out of the way as much as possible. For example, coming onto all fours will really help as this creates more space in the pelvis. Rest back into child's pose. Release through cat/cow curls. Wiggle as much as you can to open your pelvis and be aware of the position of your feet as this affects where your pelvis opens - try moving your toes in and out; and
- stay positive and keep believing in yourself and your baby.
Giving birth has a number of unknowns to it and this causes a certain amount of anxiety. You can never know how many surges you will have to manage or how long it will take for your baby to be born. Surges are not comfortable and they are intense. However, life is full of unknowns and we can prepare for them. Knowledge is power. Make sure you research the things you need to know. Feed your mind with the right knowledge so that you understand why your body can do this.
These three things will help:
- understanding how your body works during birth;
- being aware of simple things that will help you feel relaxed and get that oxytocin flowing; and
- being as mobile as you can to create as much space in your pelvic opening as possible.
AND, mindset. Belief in yourself is essential. You can do this.
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What our mums say...
I feel empowered as a pregnant woman and as a future mum
I signed up to the class to get to meet local expectant mums with the side benefit of a nice stretch. I did meet some lovely local mums and found it so helpful to have a space where you could talk about any issues and get advice or support. What really surprised me was how much I valued the yoga and stretching but mostly the breathing exercises. It gave me a toolkit of things to do during pregnancy and also in Labour and has made me feel excited for the birth! Mandy’s affirmations during the rest time have really spoken to me and made me feel empowered as a pregnant woman and as a future mum.
The class was so beneficial to me, to have a space just for me to enjoy my pregnancy and learn about the things I can do in birth to help it be a positive event. Thank you!
Mandy is such a positive influence
I went to Mandy's pregnancy yoga class for a block of 8 lessons. I enjoyed it so much that I kept going for another two blocks. You may think you're going for yoga, but it's so much more. Mandy is such a positive influence on how you feel about your pregnancy, birth and parenting. I gained friends, lost any fear of giving birth and am looking forward to joining one of her baby classes with my newborn.
I did want to say thank you. Your classes are fantastic - you explain everything so clearly and know which achy bits to work on. It has made me think that I should find a ‘normal’ (ie not postnatal) yoga class post-lockdown, but finding the time will be a big challenge! I also think that what you do for mums is great and I hope that you will be able to start your classes in person again soon. If I come across any mums to be or new mums I will certainly recommend you, although Arlo was a late (and very happy) addition to our family and most of the mums I know have kids at school now. That’s been another positive for me actually - being able to connect with people going through the baby/pregnancy stage as otherwise it would have been very easy to neglect that side of my life with the demands of having other young children. One of the unforeseen bonuses of Mandy's classes was that my baby always slept for three hours afterwards!
SO glad I'd found Mandy and her classes
I had previously been to a few different yoga classes and found them a bit intense and not what I was looking for. I heard about Mandy's prenatal yoga classes through a friend and it sounded just what I was looking for. From the first session I was SO glad I'd found Mandy and her classes. They are way more than a yoga class - meditation, breathing exercises, relaxation and a chance to chat to other expectant mums and soak in Mandy's wisdom. The jammie dodgers are a welcome bonus to the class too! Since lockdown the classes were via zoom and this worked really well and I still had the same sense of connection and relaxation I got from the in person class. Between classes I also did Mandy's yoga sessions on her website which really helped me stay relaxed and helped my aches and pains. I also made sure I regularly listened to her audio relaxations which helped me stay calm and grounded in those final weeks. Above all of this, Mandy has been a wonderful support and checked in with me after the birth of my daughter and during our hospital stay - Mandy really does go above and beyond and puts out some brilliant online content. I can't thank her enough!
Mandy really encourages everyone
I first attended Mandy’s pregnancy yoga classes when I was pregnant with my first baby, the yoga helped hugely with my pregnancy aches and pains but most of all the support and encouragement from both Mandy and the rest of the group was amazing. Mandy really encourages everyone to engage with each other which wasn’t something that I had experienced in other groups I attended, it meant that I felt safe in asking that daft question or verbalising my fears! I then went on to attend baby massage and postnatal yoga with my first baby and again the support and ability to engage with other new moms was fantastic! I have recently had my second baby and attended pregnancy yoga, whilst I had less concerns and worries about pregnancy and birth the classes gave me a dedicated hour to have just for me...which was so important and you don’t get much time to yourself when you are running around after a toddler! I am now attending postnatal yoga and although this is having to be done via zoom Mandy has continued to provide a safe environment and an opportunity to engage with other Moms! Thank you Mandy you help me keep my sanity!
Absolutely love her classes
I returned to Mandy's pregnancy yoga classes following my second pregnancy as I absolutely loved her classes first time round and made some solid friendships.
Mandy creates such a welcoming and safe environment. She is passionate about ensuring mums and mums to be have a support network alongside the yoga which is so vital. Her classes provide opportunities for open discussion around pregnancy/childbirth/motherhood and no question is out of bounds!
Following the birth of my daughter, I went on to attend baby massage and baby yoga classes, both of which I can thoroughly recommend. Baby massage has given me some really helpful techniques to manage baby's trapped wind and has also helped me deepen the bond with my little ones. Baby yoga was surprisingly more relaxing than I expected! I have made some amazing friendships that have continued post classes. I would definitely recommend Mandy's classes. She is so honest and puts her heart and soul into her classes.
Every class provides a relaxed and friendly environment
I first attended baby massage classes when my son was 3 months old, and then went on to do mum and baby yoga, and I’m on my 4th block of classes now (my son is now 9 months old!) Every class provides a relaxed and friendly environment, great yoga for post pregnancy, focussing on pelvic floor exercises and breathing, and a general feel good hour where you can forget about the outside world. The cake and tea are a bonus at the end of the classes and I have met some really lovely moms through attending. Mandy has a special gift at teaching and she never fails to create a relaxed environment for the babies, who all seem fixated by her presence. I am so glad I found her classes as Wednesdays are my favourite days of the week! Cannot recommend enough.
Mandy understands that babies have their own minds...
Mandy was extremely friendly and made me feel at ease so quickly. Which was fantastic as I was nervous being the youngest mum in the room. It was good to introduce everybody and nice for Mandy to explain she understands babies have their own minds so if we wanted to we could feed or change nappies just simply watch.
And she really meant it.
Having tea and cake at the end of each session made you stay and engage with the mums. I loved how Mandy explained all the benefits of the different massages e.g. winds/sinuses Oh and one final thing I loved the goody bag! Couldn’t rate the class highly enough.