How Listening To Your Body During Labor Helps With The Birth

What does it mean when they say listen to your body? Do your instincts guide you through the labor or you need to pick up subtle signs that your body generates?

We women have been birthing since the beginning of the time. Our bodies are made such that we can nurture life in our womb, give birth, and nourish our babies for a long time. Pregnancy is completely natural and so it birthing. After all, if women have come this far through the hardships of childbirth, we are surely capable of doing it perfectly well.

Moms must develop confidence in themselves. No matter which sources we refer for all the pregnancy information—be it friends, family, internet or books, it is only our body and our baby at that time of labor—at the moment when all that matters is a push!

Types Of Pushing

Now, there are two types of pushes that childbirth involves—one is coached pushing the other is spontaneous pushing.

The former one is widely followed at the hospitals. Coached pushing is led by the main doctor or delivery nurse when the cervix dilates to

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10 centimeters. At the time of a contraction, the doctor will ask you take a deep breath, hold it and push down using the pelvic muscles until the count of 10. The aim is to push 3 times with each contraction. This can last between minutes and hours.

In spontaneous pushing, which is practiced by the midwives, you are asked to push only when you feel the urge to. Women aren’t told to hold their breath or push down forcefully against their will. Here the pushes are shorter and more frequent.

Listening To The Body

Your hormones are your messengers. They are responsible for each and every action during labor and birth. When the cervix is slightly dilated (up to 3 centimeters), the hormone oxytocin is secreted into the bloodstream. This causes the initial contractions indicating the mother of the beginning of the labor. It also helps in inhibiting pain to a certain extent during different stages of labor.

Once the cervix is fully dilated ( about 10 centimeters), the hormone adrenalin takes over. The mother feels a rush of energy for pushing. At

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this moment, the mother has a strong urge to push. Not every contraction needs a push in response—moms could push only for a few seconds when the contractions are at their peak.

For moms who are administered with an epidural, feeling the urge to push might comes only after an hour or two when the cervix is completely dilated.

Adrenalin boost in the body could make them shivery, shaky or nauseous. The shock and panic from the hormone, which is a fight-flight hormone may cause moms to fret and a loss of trust in oneself. At this point, the mother might consider not listening to her body and the may feel the need to be directed. This is when she asks for an epidural.

She may be exhausted from the birth process. This is also the time when she needs to be encouraged and reminded that she needs to go on. Positive words of reassurance can help her go through this phase. She might feel a desire to sit upright or change positions to allow the baby to move down. The assistance of doula

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or midwife comes into play here—to guide the mother to carry on.

She may take breaks in between before continuing. As the baby descends in the birth canal, the mother can feel the intense pressure on the abdominal organs—the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. This urges her to push irresistibly with increased intensity when the contractions happen.

After The Birth

After birth, the love hormone, oxytocin, again comes into play, along with prolactin, due to which, the mother will instinctively hold the baby close to her chest in a cuddle to provide warmth and affection to her newborn.

The usual way at hospitals, amid the bright lights and sound of strangers, and being under observation all the time hinders the natural process at stage one. The mother is unable to listen to her own body and gets distracted.

There are times when the baby arrives too early or complications arise due to which medical interventions are unavoidable. However, the mother’s surrounding and state of mind during birth play and important role. A positive and calm environment allows her to pick up the subtle signs of

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the body and make the birth a less complicated process than what it is considered.