How and when to SLEEP in LABOUR!

I know, it sounds f*cking impossible, right?! But trust me; it can happen!

One of the first babies I ever saw being birthed, swam earthside after no more than two gentle, breathy pushes, after mum had been resting – sleeping, even – in a dimly lit, warm, peaceful room. In all honesty, seeing my client drift into a deep relaxation and all contractions apparently cease was unsettling at first as it defied many of my expectations that birth was dramatic and noisy (based on the medias largely inaccurate portrayal of screamy and aggressive labours). At the time, with an obviously complexed expression, I’d glanced over to my mentor– an amazing pro-gentle birth Midwife – who sweetly smiled and mouthed almost inaudibly “Rest and Be Thankful Stage!” “Oh!” I replied nodding, pretending to know what she meant.

Some years and a few dozen births later, I now know exactly what she – and Sheila Kitzinger (for this is whom she was quoting) – meant by the Rest and Be Thankful Stage. (and by the way, Sheila Kitzinger is the Birth Warrior of all Warriors so go check her out too!!)

Whilst I prefer to view birth as a continuous process, from an obstetrics perspective, labour can be thought of as occurring in stages…the first seeing the onset of mild surges/ contractions which grow in strength, length and frequency and cervical dilation is at least 3cm. This can be the longest stage of labour for many women. During the early part of the first stage you might prefer to rest as much as possible to preserve your energy. You can read more bout that here!

Some women will enjoy listening to relaxing music, cuddling up with their partner, receiving a massage, having a warm and soothing bath or doing some gentle yoga/ meditation or hypnobirth preparations, perhaps even gong for a walking meditation and absorbing themselves in nature. Some women will take the chance to nap which for those kept awake at night with the start of their labours, can provide a chance to catch-up on precious sleep.

The second stage of labour begins as the cervix dilates to 10cm – it’s fullest dilation – and this is the point at which some women may begin feeling an urge to push whilst others may, as I witnessed for the first time many years ago, experience a trailing off of their surges and a period of stillness enabling rest and deep relaxation, lasting from a few minutes up until an hour or more! Wow!!!

This is the Rest and be Thankful Stage! If this is you, do as the name suggests! There is some pretty amazing stuff going on in the body during this time; the uterus is pulling up and over the baby so that, whether you feel you have the strength to push your baby out or not, so long as your labour is progressing and you are undisturbed, the foetal ejection reflex is likely to be an enormous help (another reason why coached pushing is not recommended as best practice).

If you are pregnant, living in Hampshire, Dorset or London, due July/ Aug 2018 and what to MAXIMISE the chance of an EMPOWERED BIRTH and MINIMISE the chance of a disappointing or traumatic birth, drop me an email or give me a call NOW and find out exactly how I can support you.

 

 

 

Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash

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