Week 37: The First Stage of Labor
Except for being hung up by the feet, the supine position is the worst conceivable position for labor and delivery.
-Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia, MD
What's Happening in Your Body?
You may experience some swelling in your ankles at the end of pregnancy due to the increased pressure within your abdomen, the decreased blood return from your legs and feet, and the effect of the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the walls of the blood vessels. Around this time your cervix may begin to soften in preparation for your baby's birth.
What's Happening with Your Baby?
Your baby is now about 18 inches long and 5 to 7 pounds. She may be gaining as much as an ounce per day at this point. Her hands are about 2 inches long. She is now almost fully mature and at any time may drop into your pelvis in preparation for birth.
The First Stage of Labor
Once you are having regular contractions, you are considered to be in true (or active) labor. The duration and distance between contractions will differ from labor to labor, but they may be around 5 minutes apart or less. You cervix will, at this point, probably be dilated to about 3 or 4 centimeters. You are entering the First Stage of Labor.
Miso is a particularly hearty food for new mothers. This high-protein food typically combines soybeans, cultured grain, and sea salt, using a unique fermentation process. In Japan, the process has been elevated to a fine craft, much like winemaking. Find out more about the amazing benefits of miso, and learn how to make it yourself.
The Side Twist is a simple yoga posture that you can do after the baby is born. It strengthens the buttocks, which relieves lower back tension and also stretches the front of the thighs.
In early labor, make Forest Brew to help relieve anxiety, tension, and pain. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a teapot or sturdy pitcher. Add to the water 2 teaspoons dried or 4 teaspoons fresh wood betony, rose petals, and raspberry leaves. Steep for 10 minutes or more.
Let cool and sip with ice during labor and/or make ice out of it and suck on the ice chips.
I was dreaming. I was speaking with a man whose wife had just had a baby. He showed me a box high up on a shelf. As he pointed to the box he said, "That's a contraction." I replied, "Really? Let me look at it." I reached way up to take the box from the shelf and I felt the contraction. "So that's a contraction," I replied in the dream. And when I woke up, I was indeed in labor. Follow this link to read the full story, Opening, by Linda Epstein.
Image by Durga Yael Bernhard