It happens frequently, contractions are strong and regular. You are coping with them well but you know if you are going to make it to the hospital, you need to leave now. You get in the car, the excitement building and begin your journey to your new life. Your life with a new baby.
You arrive at the hospital, you are questioned, examined, asked to sign a stack of papers, put on monitors and finally settled nicely into your bed to labor. But oddly enough your contractions have spaced out and not as intense. What happened to the contractions. The contractions that you were so excited to be having. The contractions that were going to bring your baby.
This is an all to common scenario. How it is handled can be the difference between a natural birth and a c-section.
Let's address first what happened. Oxytocin is the hormone released by the brain to cause contractions. The more oxytocin, the more contractions which will eventually bring baby to delivery. Oxytocin has some natural inhibitors-stress, observation, cold, speech, and bright lights. Michel Odent has taught this concept for years and has written several books on the subject. So when one arrives at the hospital with all the excitement, questions, bright lights, people talking and having to think and making decisions, the oxytocin level can drop drastically. When the oxytocin drops, contractions slow or even stop. Usually in time, if the stressors are removed, the oxytocin returns and labor will intensify. This may take a few hours or days.
I recently attended a hospital birth and got to see this event first hand. It was very dramatic. Contractions had been strong and 3 minutes apart. Everything slowed to the point that the mom was working diligently just to keep contractions going. After 10 hours of latent labor with no change, the wonderful OB we were working with suggested everyone go home. Once back home, contractions picked back up and once back at the hospital, labor was advanced enough that all the distractions were ignored and this mom reached complete.
The next slow down happened during pushing. The mom had been laboring in the tub, the lights were low, there was no talking, the water was warm and she gently moved her baby down behind a bulging bag of waters. She had to be moved to the bed for delivery, all the staff comes in for the big event, the lights are turned on so the scene can be visualized. Legs are spread, perineum is exposed and all stand expectantly waiting for the big event. This mom pushed her babies head out as instructed and then contractions stalled again. Of course this created quite a panic. The OB even commented that the one contraction that was bringing the body just quit. Go with me just for a moment What would happen if you were in the middle of lovemaking ( the other time in our life when we produce a lot of oxytocin) and six strangers walked in to your room and started observing you and cheering you on?
All ended well, but it was a great illustration reminding me of how important it is to be vigilant in our preparation of the environment we invite women to give birth in.
As a guardian of the natural process of birth, I want to always honor and respect the God's design and not interfere in such a way that will inhibit labor or birth.
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