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.