Labor is broken down into three stages. The first stage of labor is when the cervix thins out and opens and the contractions are persistent. Your obstetric health care provider would say that your cervix is dilated and effaced. This can last longer than 24 hours for first- time mothers, so be prepared! The transition into the second stage of labor is when the cervix is opened up to it’s widest point (10cm) and your body begins getting ready to push. The second stage of labor is when you push. The baby is born during the second stage of labor. The third and final stage is when the uterus continues with contractions to expel the placenta. This can last up to thirty minutes.
If we look at stage 1 and take into consideration that the body is preparing for birth, what can be done naturally to help the body? Stage 1 the cervix is dilating. The cervix has to dilate or open up so the baby can descend. Walking and standing are natural ways to keep the gravitational pressure of the baby on the cervix.
Massage is another way of relaxing the laboring mother in between contractions and relieving some of the pain associated with those contractions. According to a study performed in 1984 by “The Journal of Nurse-Midwifery,” all participating women responded positively to the physical contact of massage during labor. The study reported that the women felt that the transition time between first and second stages of labor was the most helpful time. The women reported that they felt more confident and were able to cope better through the rest of the delivery. Massage therapy can stimulate various reflexology and acupressure points that assist the body in delivery and minimize the discomforts associated with labor. During the third stage of labor, nursing of the infant initiates the contractions of the uterus and can shorten the time for the third stage as well as begin the maternal bonding process with the baby. Massage of the abdomen can also help to facilitate the third stage of labor.
Take the time to plan your labor and delivery support team. Who do you need to have there to help you through the birthing process naturally? Check with your birthing facility ahead of time to make sure that your labor plan can be carried out. This is a special time, make sure you have the support you need.