What happens during Birth?

How does the normal human birth occur?
This is a top question on the mind of many pregnant women. They have heard many stories of the birth experience, yet they are still confused and not sure as to what really happens. So how exactly does the birth process get started and how does the body proceed to give birth to the newborn?The labor process begins on its own at the predestined time. The production of oxytocin in the body gradually increases on its own and it slowly gets the uterus to start contracting in an attempt to open the cervix (lower part of the uterus). The cervix gets thinner and thinner and then starts opening up. This allows the baby to come down and finally out into the world. There are different stages that the uterus goes through and these are described below.
Latent phase: preparation
This phase of labour may last many days and the contractions are a stronger version of the Braxton-Hicks contractions that start around 26 weeks of pregnancy. Cervical effacement or thinning and stretching of the cervix occurs during the last few weeks of pregnancy and is usually complete or near complete, by the end of latent phase. The degree of cervical effacement may be felt during a vaginal examination. A ‘long’ cervix implies that not much has been taken into the lower segment, and vice versa for a ‘short’ cervix. Latent phase leads to the start of the active first stage, when the cervix is about 3 cms dilated.
First stage: opening up
The first stage of labor starts when the effaced (thinned) cervix is 3 cms dilated. Some women may have strong contractions prior to reaching this point, or they may reach this point without regular contractions. The onset of actual labor is defined when the cervix begins to progressively dilate. Rupture of the membranes, with the leaking of amniotic fluid, or the presence of a blood stained ‘show’ may or may not be present at this time.Uterine muscles form opposing spirals from the top of the upper part of the uterus to its junction with the lower segment. During effacement, the cervix becomes incorporated into the lower segment of the uterus. During a contraction, these muscles contract causing shortening of the upper segment and a drawing upwards of the lower part of the uterus, in a gradual expulsive motion. This draws the cervix up over the baby’s head. Fully dilated is the term used by medical personnel when the cervix is the size of the baby’s head, at about 10 cms dilation for a term baby.The duration of labour varies widely, but active phase averages about 8 hours for women giving birth to their first child (“primiparae”) and 4 hours for women who have already given birth before (“multiparae”). This can be a pleasant experience if the woman is physically, mentally and emotionally prepared during pregnancy.
Second stage: birth
This starts when the cervix is fully dilated, and ends when the baby is born. At the beginning of the normal second stage, the head is fully engaged in the pelvis; when the widest diameter of the head has successfully passed through the pelvic brim. Ideally it has also passed below the spines of the pelvis. This is the narrowest part of the pelvis. If these have been accomplished, all that will remain is for the fetal head to pass below the pubic arch and out through the vagina. This is helped by the maternal efforts of “bearing down”. The fetal head is seen to ‘crown’ as the labia open outwards. At this point the woman may feel a burning or stinging sensation, also known as the “ring of fire.”Delivery of the fetal head (by extension), is followed by (restitution and external rotation).The second stage of labour will vary to some extent, depending on how successfully the preceding tasks have been accomplished.
Third stage: placenta
In this stage, the uterus expels the placenta (afterbirth). The placenta is usually delivered within 15-30 minutes after the baby is born. Maternal blood loss is limited by contraction of the uterus following delivery of the placenta. Normal blood loss is less than 600 mls.
The third stage can be managed either expectantly or actively. Expectant management (also known as physiological management) allows the placenta to be expelled without medical assistance. Breastfeeding soon after birth causes uterine contractions that encourage delivery of the placenta. Active management utilizes oxytocic agents and controlled cord traction. The oxytocic agents augment uterine muscular contraction and the cord traction assists with rapid delivery of the placenta.
Third stage: placenta
In this stage, the uterus expels the placenta (afterbirth). The placenta is usually delivered within 15-30 minutes after the baby is born. Maternal blood loss is limited by contraction of the uterus following delivery of the placenta. Normal blood loss is less than 600 mls.
The third stage can be managed either expectantly or actively. Expectant management (also known as physiological management) allows the placenta to be expelled without medical assistance. Breastfeeding soon after birth causes uterine contractions that encourage delivery of the placenta. Active management utilizes oxytocic agents and controlled cord traction. The oxytocic agents augment uterine muscular contraction and the cord traction assists with rapid delivery of the placenta.
After the birth
Medical professionals recommend putting the baby on the breast right away to encourage breastfeeding of the first milk, colostrum. Doing this assists with uterine contractions and helps reduce postpartum bleeding/hemorrhage in the mother, and to pass antibodies, immunities and other benefits to the baby.To further enhance your knowledge you may request your free report “A pregnant woman’s guide to choosing an Obstetrician or Midwife: the 5 crucial factors involved” by Gurjeet S Minhas. If you are really interested in knowing all there is to achieving a pain free, drug free and joyous birth and empowering yourself totally, then it is a good idea to attend a Joyous Birth play shop in your area along with your partner.

Responses

  1. Aabhishek says:

    August 5th, 2013 at 9:04 AM (#)

    Oh my gosh Heather, I loved reading every bit of this story! Congratulations again! Thanks so much for shanirg your experience. It’s amazing just how much working out and being a strong person can help during labor! I hope you and your family are having a great week