Let's Talk Birth(y)
Updated: Sep 13
A short summary of labour
This is probably the most common question for midwives: Is it like in the movies?
The answer is: No. Well, it depends of course on the movie you are referring to, but most certainly the answer stays the same. This short summary should help to get an idea of what birth is actually like and how it works.
The biggest and most important difference between real life and movies is the duration: actual birth takes a looooot longer than shown in movies. It is much harder, more emotional and very unique for every woman. Let's have a look at how birth "works":
First and foremost, birth is a natural and normal part of life, there is nothing gross about it! Nearly every female body has all the "functions" needed to perform spontaneous, vaginal birth. The mechanism behind is very special. Mother nature composed yet another beautiful system, that depends on three different parts relying on each other. These are the female pelvis, the Uterus / aka the contractions and the babies head.
During the time these three components perfectly work together, birth happens, and the midwife and/or the doula will be right beside you accompanying you into the new role of parenthood. So after nine months of waiting, or as medical professionals also count it, after 40 weeks of pregnancy, it's time to say goodbye to your belly.
"Birth may be a matter of a moment, but it is a unique one." Frederick Leboyer
The 40 weeks start with the first day of your last period, but the baby is already fully developed and ready for the outside world at 36 weeks of gestation. But every day longer counts: the baby gets stronger and gains a little bit more weight (which is good for survival).
The start of labour is yet to be explored. What we know is that usually, apart from premature babies, a chemical and hormonal reaction happens in the body of both mother and baby as soon as the baby is ready to be born. Researchers are unsure where the origin of this reaction takes places, it is assumed that a hormonal release in the babies body, which is connected to the mothers' blood system, leads to the production of birth hormones. The female body then starts with contractions. Birth can of course also start with leakage of amniotic fluid, when the water breaks.
There are 3 stages of labour, some professionals count 4:
First active stage = Opening stage
- 1o cm is the goal
- 1h per cm, up to 10-14h normal with the first baby
Second stage = pushing stage
- 2-3h are normal, depends on medication (epidural), movement of babies head, etc
- usually, not more than 1h depends on the hospital and/or doctor.
The 4th stage would be in between the first and the second stage. It's called Transition Stage and takes place when the cervix is nearly fully dilated but it's not the time to push yet. Some women have it, some skip it; that's why the transition stage is not always counted as a separate stage of birth.
After the baby is born it's time to cuddle, to fall in love, to cherish the moment where you are starting a family and to bond with your baby. This time is very important and midwives take it very seriously that there is enough time for it. Also the first breastfeed happens in the first few hours of birth, most of the time right away! This is a very exciting time for everyone. Enjoy!
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thank you for reading, and always remember
It's not only pain, but power !
your midwife Sarah