I have been reading every book page and every web page I can find on Labour. For those of us who are inexperienced with labour and who have not read up about it the general idea is “your water breaks and then you have to rush to hospital and baby just comes out!” Well that is exactly what the movies show and from what I have been reading it is actually completely different to what could take place. Let me enlighten you folks on some of my interesting readings and teachings….and maybe this will help me prepare for my actual labour experience.
In a short paragraph labour can be broken down into three main stages: The first stage (early labour, active labour, transition) begins with the onset of contractions that cause progressive changes in your cervix and ends when your cervix is fully dilated. That’s right ….when your inner Vagina is 10cm. Once you are fully dilated the second stage starts, which is basically when the baby comes through your vagina and out…..it is also known as the pushing phase. The third stage is when you have already delivered your baby and the after birth comes out (placenta).
A possible “Bloody Show” and ladies I am not swearing here….it literally means a show of blood. This is when the mucus plug in your upper cervix gets released. But when this happens it doesn’t mean you are going to go into labour ASAP….you could still have a couple of days to go. Also your body can make another plug if baby isn’t ready to come out yet. So really a bloody show doesn’t really stand for bloody anything does it really (yes I am swearing now).
The early labour signs are really characterised by the infamous contractions…which should not be confused with Braxton Hicks contractions (fake ones)….Its like our body plays games on our mind when it throws in a fake contraction here and there. It just ain’t cool coz you will be walking normally and then BAM fake contraction comes your way and your walk turns into a waddle and your whole tummy feels like it is going to drop so you hold it right by the cookie (lower abdomen) and you start to breath deep just to control the pain…..and by this point every “movie minded person” is looking at you as if you are going to deliver any moment. Anyways the only way to distinguish the two types of contractions are that labour contractions are fairly regular and gradually get more intense. When this happens our mind has to really start doing some time calculations to figure out how regular the contractions are and how long they last. When they are every five minutes and lasting for 40 to 60 seconds then you have reached the end of early labour……ie your Cervix is 4cm (still got 6cm to go). So what is really happening during these labour contractions is your cervix is widening and that is why they are so painful. You see in a ‘normal early labour’ your water has still not broken at this stage. If it has then you have to make sure your caregiver is aware of it and that you are heading to hospital. If it hasn’t then well you are free to do whatever you like. Yup go get your nails done, watch TV, go for a walk, basically relax. “Why????” you ask. Well apparently the more relaxed you are the quicker your labour progresses and walking is the best because you maximise on gravity. This phase can also vary in time …it all depends if your ripe your cervix is.
The active stage of labour is when the issh hits the fan because those contractions become more frequent, longer, and stronger. Once you have had regular, painful contractions every five minutes for an hour then you really need to start making your way to the hospital or birthing clinic. If this is your first vagina delivery then this phase can take about four to eight hours.
The last phase of the first stage of labour is the Transition phase. Your cervix goes from 8cm-10cm and you are not such a pleasant person to be around. As my mom puts it so politely “You move from normal contractions to feeling like you are going to take a huge #R$*#*($&)%.” This is that part of the movie where you start screaming at the husband. But you are not suppose to be pushing as yet.
Well that was the kanya version of information I have gathered on labour so far. …my main reference has been www.babycenter.com and Michelle’s very informative antenatal classes which we attended at fourways life clinic. But all of this has helped me realise that labour is not that simple it is actually so complicated and I wonder how if I can remeber it all when I actually go through with it. EEEEEK