Week 39: The Third Stage of Labor
Years ago it was unheard of that a woman should wish to see the afterbirth. Today, nearly every mother who watches her baby born asks me to show her the placenta. This I do, and point out the bag in which the infant, now lying peacefully in her arms, developed and became a perfect little human being.
-Grantly Dick-Read, MD, Childbirth Without Fear
What’s Happening in Your Body?
Many women report a sharp, almost knife-like feeling from the pressure of the baby’s head on their pelvic floor.
What’s Happening with Your Baby?
You may notice that your baby is much less active now – there just isn’t as much room to move around. The baby’s bowels are now filled with greenish-black meconium, excretions from her alimentary glands. This will be the baby’s first bowel movement after birth.
The Third Stage of Labor
Your beautiful baby has just been born and been placed, slowly and gently, on your stomach. Flesh-to-flesh contact will probably feel just right to you. Skin contact will feel good to your baby, too, and keep her warm. You may want to have a blanket placed over both of you and a hat put on your newborn’s head to cut down on heat loss.
Now is your chance to touch and gaze at this amazing new life. Babies are incredibly alert directly after birth. You may find him staring at you with wide-open eyes. Find out more about the baby’s birth, cutting the umbilical cord, and the birth of the placenta in the full article.
Lavender is a great aromatherapy tool for reducing pain in labor and general relaxation. It’s also a great addition to dessert. Try celebrating the near end of your pregnancy with our Luscious Almond Torte.
Sing your heart out! Music engages one part of the brain, whereas speech and language engage another. Music activates the emotional and intuitive functions. In relation to birth, the courage to sing mirrors the courage to open to birth physically and emotionally.
Singing as you prepare to give birth opens your heart, releases emotions, and reduces stress. Singing also causes us to breathe deeply, loosen our jaws and throats and expand our voices in self-expression. The sound vibrations evoke a feeling of harmony.
Here is a simple song to sing in early labor. Set it to tunes that you like or sing your favorite songs, church hymns, or songs from your childhood—anything that makes you feel powerful:
Oh, Mother, solace of mine.
I know you carry me all of the time.
Oh, mother, tender and dear,
I know you’re holding me.
I have nothing to fear.
We are the flow. We are the ebb.
We are the weavers. We are the web.
I’m growing down, down, down,
I’m growing up, up, up.
I’m growing round, round, round.
I’ll never stop.
Arnica, oh, Arnica: As you are making decisions during the early minutes and hours of your baby’s life, you will still want to take care of your own healing. Arnica, a homeopathic remedy associated with relieving sports injuries, bruises, and bumps, is a perfect remedy for this time.
Arnica Montana (leopard’s bane) provides both mental relief and physical comfort. It works internally and externally on bruised, traumatized tissue, helps to stop bleeding, prevents infection, helps to heal stitches, and soothes hemorrhoids.
Ask your homeopathic practitioner if Arnica is right for you. You’ll find Arnica 30X in your natural product store. Take 3 to 5 pellets every 15 minutes after birth until you feel comfortable.
The Zenzunni approach to birth
is to wait without purpose
in the state of highest tension.
Do not compete with what is
To compete is to prepare for failure.
Do not be trapped by the need to
That way, you achieve everything.
-Frank Herbert, Dune
Image by Durga Yael Bernhard