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Home > Labour and Birth
Labour and Birth in Preganancy
Labor Basic Concepts for Under.. Four Stages of Labor
Things to Do Before a Ho..
Labour and Birth in PreganancyAfter you miss your periods, you are apprehensive of the consequences, and then you gather courage and meet your doctor, who recommends certain tests and then confirms your pregnancy, if at all you are pregnant. You may be delighted as well as worried about labor, and the additional responsibilities you have to embark on. You carry your unborn child for nine months facing difficulties like nausea, heart burn a swollen abdomen and so on and so forth. Then after nine months you are ready to give birth. Your labor pain starts when you are at the end of the third trimester.

The contractions of labor are the result of the tightening and releasing of the uterus. Effacement is the thinning or shortening of the cervix to prepare it to dilate and let the baby placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic sac through. The cervix gradually disappears as it is being pulled up by the contractions. Dilation is the opening of the cervix from its closed state to a diameter of 10 centimeters. Descent is the beginning of the baby`s movement down through the pelvis. This happens during late pregnancy or labor. The baby is said to be floating, when the lowest part is still above the level of the pubic bone.

The progress of the baby`s descent is measured in terms of station. Station refers to the placement of the baby`s head in relation to the bones marking the middle of the true pelvis. The middle pelvis is considered as 0 station. For example, if the top of the head is at 0 station, it means that it has descended to the middle of the pelvis.

Labor is often said to have three stages, but there are really four. The fourth stage, which takes place after the birth, is often overlooked.

The first stage, called cervical dilation, has three phases. Second stage is the actual pushing phase. Third stage comes after the birth of the baby and continues through the delivery of the placenta. And the fourth stage is the initial recovery period for the mother.

The endocrine (hormonal) systems of mother and baby stimulate the onset of labor. The process is so synchronized that mother is ready to give birth when the baby is ready to be born. The fetus begins secreting the labor-stimulating hormones, oxyto-cin and prostaglandins. These Hormones reach the mother`s circulation by negotiating through the fetus`s cord via the mother`s placenta. These hormones apparently stimulate the onset of labor contractions. The maturing of the placenta also plays a part in starting labor. The blood supply to the ageing placenta is reduced considerably along with the pro-duction of Progesterone. Progesterone helps in maintaining a relaxed uterus, when the level of this hor-mone decreases, the uterus contracts more often. The mother also begins producing prostaglandins in greater amounts.

While the physiological interface between mother, placenta, and baby is complex and not yet fully explored, recent study maintains that the development of the fetus leads to the contraction that begin labor. Previously the maturity of the fetus was not taken into account. In the 1960s and 1970s, labor was induced according to the time that suited the doctor or the mother, like the availability of help, date of birth matching with an anniversary, and also depending on the doctor`s schedule etc. This led to the birth of a baby before they were ready. Most modem hospitals stopped the practice of inducing labor, when it was acknowledged that some prematurity could be prevented by not inducing labor at will. Spontaneous labor is advocated presently and labor is induced only in medical emergencies.

You may wish to deliver the baby sooner, as your pregnancy draws to an end, because of the awkwardness, tiredness and your uncomfortable feeling. Do not forget that you have to bear with the feeling for some more time as your baby is not yet ready to be born. Labor contractions are felt low in the groin or in the lower back. They may spread out from front to back or back to front or down your legs. They are dull and resemble menstrual or gas cramps. You may experience pre-labor contractions for months, it feels like a tightening across your belly or like the baby suddenly overgrown his size. A good labor contraction is so strong that you cannot walk or talk while you are having it. To measure the contraction interval, time from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. If your contractions are of a regular pattern three to five minutes apart, for a couple of hours, then you should move to a hospital, if this is a first baby. You should start an hour later if you have given birth before.

Contractions should last roughly a minute from start to finish. Sometimes in early labor they may seem to last much longer but that`s generally because of their mild nature, it`s hard to tell when they begin and end.

Labor contractions will get longer, stronger, and closer together over time. Often contractions go along at one level and then intensify over a fairly short time period, say, an hour or two, as labor shifts gears from early to active phase. Pre-labor contractions can sometimes be quite regular over several hours, but the pattern stays the same. Pre-labor contractions usually peter out if you get them while you are active and switch to something relaxing such as taking a warm bath. Likewise, if you have been resting and get up and move around, they generally go away. You may be able to get labor contractions to back off somewhat, but with rare exceptions, nothing makes them go away short of having the baby.

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