Your uterus has three layers of strong muscle, made especially to birth your baby. The outer muscle layer has longitudinal fibres that allow the baby to descend by retracting. The middle layer is made of criss-cross fibres that provide the other two layers with the blood they need to work. The inner layer is made of ringed fibres that wrap around the uterus and the cervix and expel the baby by contracting.
Did you know that the blood in your body goes to where it is most needed? It is important during labour for you to relax, so that the uterus is getting as much blood as possible. If you are not relaxed your body will send more blood than is required to your extremities ready for what it predicts will happen – a ‘flight or fight’ response – and your uterus will not be able to work as efficiently. Good practices of relaxation include meditation, visualisation and positive affirmations.
Did you know that when you breathe slowly and deeply you provide your body with as much oxygen as possible? This is important during labour as the more oxygenated the blood is that goes to the uterus, the more effective it will be at birthing your baby. It is a good idea to practice breathing long, slow breaths. This can be incorporated with your relaxation routine to be used during labour.
Did you know that if you are afraid of labour being painful, it is more likely that you will actually experience pain? This is due to the “fear, tension, pain” cycle. When you experience fear, your body produces chemicals that change the way your body works, that in turn triggers the ‘flight or fight’ mechanism. This causes your uterus to continue working with less oxygen, the body tries to stop labour (thinking there is danger), and the muscles begin to work out of sequence, which causes unnecessary pain. It is important that you deal with any fears about the impending birth while you are pregnant to prevent them from having a negative affect on your labour. Relaxation and meditation can help with these.
Did you know that when you are praised and loved it can make a labour shorter, easier and happier? This is because when you feel good, a powerful hormone called oxytocin (the love hormone) is being released into your body. Oxytocin is a potent stimulator of contractions, and helps to dilate the cervix and move the baby down and out of your body. Your body will produce oxytocin to help birth your baby when you are relaxed, when your partner speaks positive words and gives you hugs, when you are comfortable and when you trust in your body and those around you.
Did you know you can help your body birth your baby by having an active labour? This does not necessarily mean continually moving around, but putting your body into positions which encourage the descent of the baby. You can use gravity to help expel your baby and you can use positions that encourage your pelvis to open and allow the baby to move through easier.
So, birthing your baby will be made much easier if you firstly surrender to your body – it knows what to do. Prepare yourself while you are pregnant to help you relax as much as possible during labour, clarify anything you are unsure about beforehand, surround yourself with people who speak positively about the impending birth and talk to your partner and your baby about the feelings you are experiencing. When the day comes, try to remain as calm as possible and focus on the practise you’ve done to prepare yourself for a beautiful labour experience!