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Pregnancy & birth
If you’re about to give birth, you probably want to know what you’re letting yourself in for. We reveal what happens during the various stages of labour – and how it really feels
In the movies, birth usually starts with waters dramatically breaking in a supermarket, followed by a mad dash to hospital, a bit of panting and out pops baby.In reality, it’s not (usually) like that. Knowledge is power, so we arm you with the info you’ll need to be ready for anything the three stages of labour can throw at you. First stage: Getting startedYour clever little baby generally knows when he’s ready to meet the world, so some time around your due date, he’ll send a hormonal message to your uterus to start contracting. You may not even notice the first contractions, but there’ll be no mistaking them once they really get going. Over the next five to 15 hours or so, your cervix will gradually dilate from 0-10cm, with contractions getting progressively more intense and closer together.Real mums say ‘In the beginning I had period-type pains, which I felt in my back too. When the contractions had really started it was painful, but nothing I couldn’t cope with, then once in full throw, the pains were like two people had their hands around my stomach and back and were squeezing and pulling at the same time.’June Garraway, 32.
There’s no getting away from it – the majority of women find contractions painful, but there’s usually time between each contraction to rest and recover. Keep in mind too that it’s a ‘positive’ pain which will end as soon as your baby’s out. Staying active and upright and trying different positions will help labour progress as quickly as possible
At some point, your waters will break. Yes, there’s a possibility it will happen in a dramatic fashion by the confectionary aisle, but for some women, it doesn’t happen until later on in labour and many don’t notice it happening at all.
Real mums say ‘I was having a rest on the sofa a few hours into labour and when I stood up, I suddenly felt a gushing feeling and thought I’d wet myself. No sooner had I changed my bottoms than another great gush came out!’Anna Hall, 32
P&b note: It’s important to remember that all births are different. For every woman who labours for 24 hours, takes every form of pain relief going and screams the place down, another will pop her baby out in three hours without breaking a sweat. There’s no right or wrong way of giving birth, the only goal is a healthy baby.Making the transitionAt the end of the first stage, you’ll enter a period known as transition (when your cervix dilates from eight to ten cm) which can be a bit like entering the twilight zone. As your body prepares for the big finale, all kinds of spooky things can happen. You might feel shaky or shivery, or you could turn a foul-mouthed, sweary monster, shouting obscenities at anyone in the vicinity.
Real mums say ‘I went into a kind of ‘zone’ in transition. I felt really focused and didn’t want anyone disturbing me or touching me. When it came to moving rooms to get in the birthing pool, I refused offers of a gown and just walked down the corridor stark naked. Very surreal.’Kate Johnson, 29Second stage: The final pushThis is it: the moment you’ve been building up to for nine months – you’re finally going to meet your baby. But first, you’ve got a pretty big job to do, pushing eight or so pounds of baby out. Once you’re fully dilated, you’ll start to feel an uncontrollable urge to push. Your midwife will coach you through this bit (which can take anything from a few minutes to hours), telling you when to push and when to ‘pant’ to slow things down and reduce the risk of you tearing. When the baby’s head crowns, you’ll probably feel a burning sensation. (And in case you’re wondering, yes, you might poo, but you (and your midwife) won’t care at all.)
Real mums say ‘Once the head had crowned (that stung!) the hardest part is pushing, you feel as though you need to poo, but are really constipated and that’s when you really feel the pains. You need to really concentrate then, but once the head is out and you push the body out it’s (sorry!) like the relief of doing that poo and you get your breath back.’Sarah Griffiths, 30Third stage: After the birth, the afterbirthThe hard part’s over and you’ve finally got your baby in your arms – but it’s not all over just yet. You’ve still got the placenta to deliver, but don’t worry - it’s a lot smaller (and softer!) than a baby, and some mums don’t even notice it coming out. This stage can take from five minutes (if you have a ‘managed’ third stage, where you’re injected with artificial oxytocin to make your uterus contract) to an hour if you wait for it to happen naturally, although breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact with your baby will help your uterus contract more quickly.
Real mums say ‘Once Lily was born, I was on such a high I barely gave the placenta a thought. I vaguely remember the midwife asking me to give a push, but it was nothing like pushing a baby out – it didn’t hurt at all and just kind of slipped out by itself.’Madeleine Kingsbury, 27
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What labour really feels like
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RE: What labour really feels like
i would like to add that everyone told me i would know when to push, i would feel the urge, but NO ONE told me that the URGE to push IS like feeling like you want to do a poo. that is what that urge feels like, so ladies honestly if feel like you want to POO tell your Midwife,seriously, I held my daughter in for about an hour becuse didn't realise, my midwife couldn't believe it ! nor could i, if only i'd known !!!! everyone said "oh you'll know when you need to push" but i didn't !!!!
09 August 2009 02:03
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