YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH LABOUR
This is the second of four posts that will follow your journey through labour. Labour tends to move through these four stages fluidly; there are no sudden breaks or stops between phases.
Getting into it – The First Stage
What do I mean by a “normally progressing” labour? A labour that starts spontaneously around term (any time between the 37th and the 42nd week of pregnancy-or later if the woman has delivered late before) with contractions that come oftener, last longer, get stronger; come even oftener, last even longer, get even stronger; and then, as far as the woman is concerned, come too b—y often, lasting too b—-y long, and are too b—y strong. This accompanies a cervix that effaces and dilates and a presenting part that descends in the birth canal.
Mary Cronk MBE, Midwife.
I love this quote from Mary, it sums up labour so well. Things are starting to move into the right direction. You are fairly sure that this is it, but there is still that element of doubt!
This stage is known clinically as the First stage of Labour. The cervix is continuing to thin and flatten, and in this phase the cervix continues to move forward towards the top of your baby’s head and will be open a little way. If you have called a midwife she may ask to check your cervix to establish how you are progressing. First stage of labour is ‘diagnosed’ by the presence of regular contractions and a cervix that has opened to 4cm. In a 1st labour, the time from the start of established labour to being fully dilated is usually 8 to 12 hours
What is happening
So when Getting into it your surges will be coming regularly, about every 4-5 minutes and will be lasting 40-60 seconds each. You will have breaks in between the contractions where you are able to hold a conversation with your partner. Your baby’s head (or bottom!) will be putting pressure on your cervix to help it open.
What it feels like
These surges will start to feel more powerful. Everyone feels their surges differently, but generally they start gently and build up to a crescendo and then start to dissipate. You will find yourself starting to lean forwards during the surges. The gravity will be helping to turn your baby to where they need to be to get the best pressure on your cervix.
What should I do?
It is better to continue at home for as long as you feel comfortable, you will know when you are needing a little more support or the safety blanket of having a midwife present. Your surges will be coming regularly and your body will be starting to get into a rhythm. It’s time to get your oxytocin flowing and to embrace your intuition. You can use your easy breathing techniques between surges and can start mountain breathing when you feel ready, You will want to mobilize through the surges. Utilize the things you have around you – your birthing ball. The stairwell, the bath, the shower. Lean on the chairs, over the kitchen counters. You will feel better if you snack when you can and continue to hydrate. It is also important to pee regularly to keep your bladder empty. Keep doing what you are doing. REMEMBER TO TELL THE MIDWIFE YOU ARE HYPNOBIRTHING!
But what if?
As before… if your waters break, you should phone the maternity unit straight away, or if you are bleeding, if you baby is not moving the way that s/he normally does or if you are just concerned about something, give your maternity unit a call and they will advise you.