Despite women giving birth for millions of years, this is something that we struggle to get our heads around. Even now, knowing what I know in my work as a hypnobirthing and pregnancy yoga teacher, I still marvel at the wonder of how it all works.
How does something so big come out of something so small! Eeeek!
Well for starters there are our hormones, love them or loathe them, they play a pivotal role in pregnancy, birth and beyond, having a basic understanding of them can go along way in helping you work towards the birth you desire.
Towards the end of pregnancy, the hormone relaxin promotes the opening and softening of the cervix to aid the process of birth and the rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby. Relaxin can relax the ligaments at the front of the pelvis to help you to open out and ease the birth of your baby.
Don’t shy away from getting to know what’s going on with your lady parts either!
Let’s start with the cervix. it’s is a part of the uterus but its made of different tissue and it’s doing a pretty good job of keeping your baby in. As you approach the time of birth, your contractions draw the cervix up into the body of the uterus, and it becomes thinner and opens (called dilation). When the cervix is fully dilated (about ten centimetres), contractions help the baby begin to move from the uterus into the vagina.
There is increased blood flow in the body and around the vagina in pregnancy and birth, that increased blood flow is pretty useful when you give birth in helping you to open out. The inside of your vagina has many folds, called rugae, which unfold as the baby passes through. A bit like a pleated top.
In order for birth to efficiently we need our body and mind to be as relaxed as possible. Any stress or fear and the body can go into fight flight or fear mode and blood flow is sent to the feet and hands and we want that as close to the centre of the body as possible.
Get off your back!
The position you choose to birth in also plays role in helping to make space for baby to move down. The least effective position to give birth in is laying down on your back with your legs in the air (so just ignore every time you saw this on TV or a film, that’s a position that is useful for someone else to see what is going on there rather than helping you get your baby out, blame the patriarchy for that one!)
So what position then?
For starters the simple act of leaning forward gives you up to 30 per cent more space in your pelvis, you heard me. That’s almost 1 third more space!
You can lean standing up, or straddling a birth ball or even leaning on the side of your birth pool. All 4s is also a very mama friendly birthing position.
An uninhibited woman will move freely and will intuitively change position at will, so trust your instincts on this one.
Resting at night or conserving your energy? Side-lying with your top leg supported by a partner or cushions is a great alternative.
Epidural? That doesn’t mean that you are destined to birth on your back, it may mean you need to get creative and do some research before OR the side lying position I mentioned above as a way to avoid being on your back
Check this amazing resource for positions
What’s the baby doing?
And last but not least, your baby plays an active role. Babies are instinctive creatures, they will be moving and grooving during the birth, the two of you working as a partnership
All babies, are physiologically prepared for the narrow journey. “Because the plates of their skull aren’t fixed, the skull is able to ‘mould’ to the shape of the birth canal as they travel through it. It’s part of the reason I look back at the first photo of my little one and he looks like a wrinkled purple conehead, of course, I couldn’t see that at the time, I thought he was gorgeous!
If you are feeling nervous about birth then, I highly recommend taking a good antenatal class. Here you can learn all about the amazing things happening in your body!
For any EastLondonn locals, I hold a regular hypnobirthing course in Walthamstow, learn about, hormones, logistics of birth and so much more!