Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing Yourself and Your Baby for the Stages of Labor

You’ve seen the movies and gone to the birthing classes, but what actually happens to your body and mind during labor? Knowing more details about the process can help both you and your baby better prepare and become empowered during this miraculous process.

In stage one, at the early, latent phase, you may be feeling the realization hit that you will be soon holding your child in your arms! If you have had any fears about birthing or about becoming a parent, these may arise here. 
Photo Credit: Amber naralim Ross
You might feel energetic and joyful as you begin the long awaited start of labor but become hindered in excitement with the coming pain. Remember that stage one can be a time for spiritual connection and prayer. You may have planned this time to set candles out, relax with a cup of tea, or say a blessing, but if you become deterred by the pain or flooding emotions it’s perfectly okay. Go with the flow and the moment.

 As the 1st stage progresses into the active phase, you will feel significant changes in your body and mind. Some impediments may include zoning out and blocking out helpful support or suggestions. Some moms becoming angry that their birthing methods are not stopping pain and this anger and physical tenseness could not only increase the intensity and duration of labor, it also adds stress to the baby. Remember to voice your frustrations and your support people can help you overcome them. At this point you may find your significant-other's role changing and transforming to your needs.

At the end of stage one, the transition phase, feelings will increase in intensity. You may feel pain that could cause multiple roadblocks in your emotion and spirit. Know that this intensity is strong but brief. You will be holding your child soon and you have many positive things to focus on. Prepare yourself and your baby for this phase by knowing what transition is really like. You may have the feeling of ‘giving up’ and might even curse your higher power, moan, whine, or blame a loved one. This is the ‘scream’ phase and that’s is completely normal- it’s part of human nature, but know that too much anger here could lead into more tenseness and physically holding your baby inside even though you are so close to the end. Practice your breathing, your visualization, and your trust. Again, this stage, although short, is extremely intense in body, mind and spirit.
Amy in Labor
Photo Credit: wickenden
As the 2nd stage of labor begins, you may be excited that you’ve finally reached the pushing stage, but your exhaustion may hinder your progress. Especially if you didn’t have much rest or fluids, you may feel weak or worn out. The pushing chapter needs you to utilize all the energy you have. Prepare for this by resting when you can, drinking or eating as you need to, and meditating with your little one before you reach the second stage. Remember at the end of this stage you will be holding your child!

Photo Credit: michibanban
Excitement, adoration, love, passionate intensity and relief are some of the many emotions reported by moms at the beginning of the final stage. Your baby is born, but the placenta still needs to be delivered. In the 3rd stage, you may feel emotionally “done” with birthing and do not want to cooperate in body or mind with the afterbirth. Keep in mind that this ‘delivery’ will be less intense and throughout you will most likely be able to hold your precious child. Staring into each others eyes can help you concentrate and relax. Nursing can also help with the delivery; especially if you are still connected via the umbilical cord.  It may surprise you that your baby’s nursing causes painful cramping and contracting in your uterus but this is all for the best! Every pulse helps it shrink back down to the size it should be without a baby inside.

Holding your child in your arms for the first time may be a different experience than you pictured. It is quite possible to be in awe and in shock, touching and looking at the small child that was journeying with you, inside of your body this whole time. Just let the emotions come. Do not set expectations, goals or objectives. This is the magical moment where you live with your primal feelings, enjoy each other and just let it be.
Jill D. Chasse, PhD, MSpsy, MPA, CHt


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