Navigating Labor as the Partner
Can you believe it? She carried a watermelon! Nine months have come since the word “pregnant” appeared on a test held in front of your face. 40 weeks of experiencing a whirlwind of hormones, growth, cravings, congratulations, and classes together. All for this very moment…SHE’S IN LABOR!!!
Let’s rewind a bit. The final weeks leading up to this moment brought many “is it time moments”, am I right? Looking back, these were all signs and symptoms that her body was working cohesively for the baby’s arrival. A proportionately rotund belly hung lower on the body, and the Braxton-Hicks became frequent and uncomfortable. Mentally, she was exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling uncertain. These normal and expected occurrences has also prepared you both for today.
First Stage of Labor
In this stage during early labor, the baby (and body) are working together to position for birth. The baby lowers into the pelvis, while the cervix continues to soften ( or ripen), open (or dilate) and thin out (or efface). Mild to moderate contractions accompany, lasting up to 60 seconds sporadically. Comfort by distracting. Plan a day date or date night to help take your minds off of the moments. There’s not much outside of staying in-tune with the happenings, that one can do. It’s all up to the baby and body. Keeping calm and relaxed, helps set up the serenity mindset needed for birth. Keep in mind that this is the longest phase of the birthing experience.
You begin to notice that things are changing in demeanor and comfortableness. Contractions have begun coming every 5 minutes, and are lasting about 60 seconds as the cervix opens between 4cm and 7cm. She’s experiencing Active Labor, phase two in stage one. This is the perfect time to make that call to your provider, and make your way to your birthing facility. During this phase, you can expect to see chills or shakes, lower back pains, and nausea. In this stage, focus and encouragement are vital. Physically providing massages and listening to her when she wants to be touched, when she doesn’t want to be touched, and how she wants to be touched. Applying pressure on body parts with heat or ice to distract mentally.
This is also when your doula would be of great support and tool to you both. Be mindful, and match the mood. During this phase, pain relief medications may be an option for rest in between contractions. You can expect active labor to last up to 10 hours.
Although it’s the final phase of stage 2, Transitioning is generally the shortest, as it’s the most intense. In the body, the cervix is working between 7cm and 10 cm of dilation. The contractions are longer, stronger and coming closer together now; lasting about 90 seconds and occurring around every 2 minutes.This ensures that the cervix is thinning for effect pushing. Physical support is your best support. Assisting in position changes, counter-pressure on the body, and encouraging focused-steady breathing. Intense contractions, lower back pains and the need to have a bowel movement are expected. Bloody and mucus discharges are indications that things are moving right along. In this stage, the waters may also break on their own, or be ruptured by the provider.
Second Stage of Labor
It is time. The pushing! Thankfully, this stage is 95% NOT like you see in the movies with the screaming and grabbing and yelling and throwing things and… While this pushing stage can be emotionally charged, it is also focused and deliberate. This stage of the birthing process can last up to 3 hours. Take a breath! There are pauses, checks, encouragement, etc in there are well. When the feeling comes to push, there are some options: coached pushing, passive pushing, and a combination. With coached pushing, she will be directed when to push, and when to relax by her doula, the nurses, and/or her provider. When to take in breaths, (and when and how long) to exhale. Guiding her through this stage. This can be done by you, your doula, a nurse, or the provider. With passive pushing, she will push when her body has that surge of feeling. As she attunes with baby and body, she will become a new person before your eyes. Your job? Watch, caress, wait, and listen. Support her emotionally and mentally as only you know how, by following your instincts and her glances and body language. This stage will confirm how much of a goddess she truly is. This stage delivers your baby bundle of joy!
Third Stage of Labor
As the cries fill the room, assessments conducted, and texts flood your phone, the laboring process is not quite complete. She will be awaiting the delivery of the placenta. This organ has nourished and protected your baby throughout the pregnancy. In this third and final stage of labor and birth, the placenta is typically delivered within 30 mins after birth, and can be delivered naturally or with intravenous assistance. Get a glance of this cool organ, and you can see two sides: the “maternal” side which was connected to the uterus, and a “tree of life” side that was connected to the baby.
Congratulations Dad! She carried (and delivered) a watermelon, and you supported her every step of the way. Be proud, be passionate, and be sure to let your postpartum placenta specialist and postpartum doulas know that baby is here. Your family is ready for their support!
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