- The stretch receptors in your dilating cervix send signals to your brain to release more oxytocin and this helps you to keep dilating and helps labour to progress.
- Being able to feel what is going on in your body, helps you to know what positions feel the most helpful.
- When you feel pain, this increases the release of endorphins (your own natural pain killer). There is a synergistic relationship between the release of oxytocin and endorphins. You’ll be happy to know that endorphins are stronger than morphine and will help you to cope!
- When a woman is labouring naturally (without drugs) and she dilates completely, she usually feels a strong urge to push. This is helpful to be aware of this sensation so she can work with her body and baby.
Sometimes the sensations of labour can feel overwhelming...
Many women get to a point in labour known as ‘transition’ where they feel they can’t go on. This is quite common. Mothers have been working very hard and may still feel like they have a long way to go. They can lose confidence and hope at this point and want to escape from it all.
If labour is progressing normally, partners and birth companions may need to give extra encouragement and support. Reminding the mother that the baby is close and that she is doing a great job can give her the confidence boost she needs.
Be aware of doing ‘labour maths’...
Women in labour may try and do calculations in their head to work out how long labour will take. A story of a woman from the Birthing From Within book by Pam England (page 243) gives an example where the woman took 8 hours to thin and dilate her cervix to 2cm and she thought at that rate (1cm per 4 hours) it would take another 32 hours to be fully dilated. This totally discouraged her and she felt she just couldn’t go on.
As we know, this labour math can be discouraging. Cervixes are amazing in their ability to dilate and there are many things that can be done to help encourage more rapid dilation (for example; walking, nipple stimulation, massage, acupressure). Just keep going!
As labour progresses, some mothers dilation rapidly increases and they may go from 5cm dilation to 8cm in one hour (or a matter of minutes). This progression can be very intense. As always, support and encouragement are key to helping mum focus on one contraction at a time.
It’s in human nature to compare our previous efforts to current ones. The same can be said for previous labours. A second time mum may panic at the intensity of her current labour and think she will be labouring for as long as her first labour. Truth is, she may be dilating faster and that is why it is more intense. She needs to be encouraged and supported and try to stay in the moment.
With regards to normal labour, the most compassionate response may be supporting the mother in whatever way she needs and this may include encouraging her to continue with her own inner resources and supporting her desire to birth without drugs. When a woman is told she’s getting close to meeting her baby, this may give her the extra stamina and determination to keep going.
The confidence gained by birthing naturally helps you call on this resilience during other difficult times. It reinforces that you are amazing!
To give birth in awareness means to be open to each moment and do whatever needs to be done (and in some cases, this may included the use of drugs). In some labours, expecting yourself to birth without drugs can be unnecessary and unhelpful.
If labour is prolonged and not progressing or if the mother needs sytocinon to induce or speed labour up, then the most compassionate response may be to offer drugs to help the mother cope.
By being able to recognize what the best options are in the moment, the mother can stay connected and still experience birthing from within.
A final word...
If you are progressing normally in labour, call on all you’ve got to get through it. You can do it! Do it for you and the health of your baby!
However, as we know, sometimes we need the help of drugs or pain relief in order to help labour progress. Know that you did the best you could and stay connected knowing you can still birth from within.
Kirrah Holborn holds regular Birthing From Within workshops in Lismore, NSW. You will discover what YOU really need to know to give birth (this is different for everyone), learn many skills for coping with labour, partners will learn how to be confident at helping and supporting through each stage of labour, discover natural therapies for birth (including massage and acupressure) and release any worries so that you feel more relaxed and ready for birthing! Book now