Life Mothers & Babies

Thursday 18 September 2014

10 positives no one tells you about childbirth

Emily McElarney

Published 05/08/2014 | 02:30

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Woman holding her newborn baby at hospital
Childbirth is one of the most empowering things a woman can ever do
Always Together
You are not squeezing something the size of a melon out a hole the size of a grape
Emily and Seimi, who she gave birth to drug-free despite minor complications.

The negative aspects of labour are often the focus but here are ten reasons to stay positive.

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You are not squeezing something the size of a melon out a hole the size of a grape

No you can't believe all you hear in the movies - looking at you Look Who's Talking. A woman's body is perfectly engineered for birthing and so is a baby's.

Firstly, the hormone relaxin softens both mum's and baby's joints and ligaments (including the pelvic joints) making everything pliable, movable and accommodating. Even baby's shoulder blades and collar bone become smaller in span to allow for birth. Then the fontanelles in the baby's skull allow for the overlapping of the bony plates giving the baby that beautiful cone-shaped head and guess what, the circumference is then nothing near the size of a melon.

Woman holding her newborn baby at hospital
Childbirth is one of the most empowering things a woman can ever do

And now for that hole the size of a grape. The perineum or the 'final frontier' is super stretchy but it needs time to 'unfold' which is why forced pushing to achieve birth isn't recommended. Allowing the baby's head to gently 'knead' the perineum open in its own time usually results in a perfectly in-tact perineum after birth.

It doesn't have to involve pain

If we look at the body rationally, and accept that the birthing muscles are no different to any other muscles in our body, then there is no reason for them to be in pain when they are exerted.

We're not in pain when we're gardening, playing sport, practicing yoga or any other situation where we're using our muscles. We might however feel a bit stiff and tender a day or two after!

Childbirth is certainly hard work, a physical challenge and involves sensations of pressure, fullness, tightening - but not always pain. Pain is usually brought about by fear and the resulting tension it creates in the body. And don't forget the lovely endorphins our body produces.

Nature's own morphine - in fact 200 times stronger then morphine - produced right there in your own body. And don't be afraid of the contractions, as birthing guru Ina May Gaskin says: "Your rushes (contractions) cannot be stronger then you, because they are you".

Childbirth is one of the most empowering things a woman can ever do

There's nothing that even compares to that feeling of giving birth to your baby. That complete euphoria. It's there whether you have a cesarean section or a drug-free natural birth - a complete rush and a total sense of accomplishment and pride. You'll never experience anything else like it! (Until the next baby!)

It unlocks a whole new part of you that you didn't know was there

When a mother gives birth to her first baby it's as if a trap door of emotion is opened within her. Being a mother for the first time is an intense, mind-blowing emotional experience. Lots of parents find a part of themselves they never knew was there when they become a parent.

Relaxing and trusting in the process is the most beneficial thing you can practice in childbirth

When you are relaxed about birth, your body relaxes and stays soft and open to the whole process of changes which take place inside. Stressing out and being afraid tenses the body and causes a conflict of processes.

Always Together
You are not squeezing something the size of a melon out a hole the size of a grape

Adrenaline make the body want to hold off birthing until a safer time. It also causes blood circulation to divert away from the uterus, and baby, and head for the defence organs and limbs. The best thing you can do is lie back and relax and trust in the amazing process of birth.

You'll fall in love with your partner all over again!

There's nothing to bring a couple closer then childbirth. Though the birthing partner may feel like 'a spare' and like they're contributing nothing at all - just being there and whispering little messages of support to their beloved is perhaps the most important and effective third party contribution to birth. Once the baby is out they'll look at you in awe of the goddess you truly are!

There's lots you can do to make it easier even before your baby is due

Baby's position is half the battle. If you get baby into the optimal position for birth before the head engages you've half the work done.

Always check with your midwife/consultant what position your baby is in at each visit from 30 weeks on - not just the head, but where the baby's spine is. The perfect position is head engaged into the pelvis, with baby nestled into your left side, looking over at your right hip.

This is known as LOA or Left Occiput Anterior. Yoga, swimming, gentle lunges and avoiding reclined seats and bucket seats in cars can really help achieve this position.

There's lots you can do to make it easier on the day too!

Stay at home as long as possible - that way you can relax and feel safe and secure. Going in to hospital too early leaves you more likely to be induced or have medical intervention. Be active - move around, work with your body. Help baby make that journey through the birth path with your movement. Use gravity - giving birth lying on your back is absolutely the toughest way. Gravity will help hugely so give birth on all fours, on your knees or best of all, squatting.

There's a reason babies are meant to come out that particular exit

Yes they come out facing your bum for a reason - another nod to nature's amazing design of the birthing body.

On the way down the birth canal, the movement of the contractions expels amniotic fluid from the baby's lungs allowing them to be ready for breathing. Then on the way out, the baby takes a gulp of mum's bacteria found lying in and around the perineum. This bacteria kickstarts the baby's entire digestive system by populating the gut with flora or good bacteria.

Once the head emerges, it's the air hitting the baby's face which allows the breathing reflex to kick in - that's how babies can be born safely under water.

You actually only have to move that baby an average of 5 inches

Yes that's all. If you're in the last weeks of pregnancy, stand in front of the mirror and look at where you reckon the head is and where the exit doors are. It's really not that far. You can totally do this!

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