The onset of labour signals that the birth of the child is imminent. Strong contractions of the uterus under the influence of oxytocin cause intense pain for the mother. This escalates as oxytocin creates a vicious cycle for more and more powerful contractions. Other signs include a bloody show, where blood and mucus leaks out, and the water breaking, where amniotic fluid bursts out as the membranes rupture.
When the cervix has fully dilated to 10cm wide, the baby is ready to come out, and this is the end of the first stage. It may take over 24 hours for this stage to be over – all the while the mother is in extreme pain as her body transforms for the process.
The second stage concerns the delivery of the baby, and follows a precise series of steps.
- The baby, oriented head-down, facing either right or left, leans against the pelvis.
- The baby begins to descend, passing through the pelvis.
- It flexes its head as it comes through the cervix, turning towards the mother’s back as it does so.
- As the head crowns, the baby turns back to its side-facing position so the shoulders can come out.
- The rest of the body comes out with the shoulder. Forceps may be used to help.
The passage of such a large head and body is only possible through the massive dilation of the cervix, the stretch of the vagina, and the soft, malleable skull of the baby (a newborn’s head often looks conical and alien-shaped). Quite often, the opening of the vagina is not wide enough, and the opening may be cut open more to ensure it does not rip.
After the baby is safely delivered, the umbilical cord and the placenta are also delivered, thus ending the third stage (afterbirth). The cord is clamped and cut, and the baby is then thoroughly checked to ensure it is healthy and has no developmental issues.
Although in the past childbirth was extremely risky and often led to the death of the mother and/or baby in the process, nowadays protocols and health professionals ensure that both survive the procedure, thus ending the incredible 40-week journey until the birth of a new life. Only after understanding the arduous steps and the risks a mother takes to give birth to her child can one truly appreciate the value of life.
(Full series here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/arkrepro/?order=asc)