Natural childbirth, 10 things to know to not be afraid

Childbirth is an unforgettable moment in a woman's life. And it is often preceded by a lot, a lot of waiting, but above all by many doubts and uncertainties throughout the pregnancy.

Here are 10 things to know about natural childbirth.

10- Will I make it? It is a question that every expectant mother asks herself first and foremost. But there is no answer. In one way or another she is giving birth and one should not be ashamed of her reactions. Doctors, midwives, nurses are used to the "possible oddities" of pregnant women or the physical problems that can occur, so first of all you need to be relaxed and serene. Trust in the staff who assist you will help you.

2- How can I tell if labor has started? First of all, it is not true that labor starts when the waters break. The rupture of the sac can occur even hours before the start of the "active" phase of labor, or it can even be caused by the gynecologist, if it does not occur spontaneously. The onset of labor, in fact, is given by the contractions that gradually become regular, more intense and painful.

3- It is useful to take a preparatory course, it can help you to know the various stages of natural childbirth, what to do in different situations and how to face the fears of the moment, as well as build confidence with the partner who can participate in the meetings and learn how to help you .

4- Knowing the different moments of natural childbirth is positive, in order to be able to regulate also the times. There are four phases: the prodromal, a preparatory phase in which irregular contractions may or may not occur; the dilating one, in which the contractions become more regular and dilation begins (this is active labor). Then there is the expulsive phase, that of pushing: you must always wait for the dilation to be complete before starting this phase, under the guidance of the midwife. And finally, after the baby is born, there is the afterbirth, with the expulsion of the placenta.

5- What to do if you are at home and there is a rupture of the bag? Don't rush: you can take a hot shower, useful for relaxing, getting dressed and getting ready calmly and be accompanied to the hospital where the gynecologist will check the dilation and assess whether hospitalization is necessary or if it is too early. It might even make you go home. Loss of the mucous plug does not require you to go to the hospital urgently - it may take days for labor to start. 

6 - Very often midwives say that in childbirth there is only one thing to run for, for the others the imperative is calm. The only case in which it is necessary to go to hospital urgently is placental abruption, which occurs with abundant loss of live blood. A very different situation from the losses that can occur, such as those of mucus or congealed blood.

7- Is it possible to eat something during labor? It is advisable to drink something sweet but not too heavy. Some women in labor, in fact, suffer from nausea during labor and are likely to vomit. If you feel like eating, have light snacks, such as with bread or crackers.

8- How long does labor last? When you get close to giving birth there are many stories that you hear about labor that lasted even days. It is certainly a personal experience and as such everyone lives it in his own way. Scientifically, however, it is important to know that natural childbirth in its active phase cannot last more than 18 hours.

9- Pain and childbirth. Two elements closely linked, but it is not certain that it is mandatory to suffer throughout labor. There are now several techniques or expedients to help the pregnant woman feel less pain and focus on the experience. The most used is epidural anesthesia, which is also accompanied by new methods, such as relaxing gases, widely used for example in Great Britain. Another is giving birth in water, a method that reduces the pain of labor. Then there are techniques to learn first, such as those related to yoga and meditation, in addition to the more classic breathing. Proper breathing, combined with good thrusts, can really help the pregnant woman.

10- There is no single position for giving birth. In most hospitals, the bed with the footrest (the one for gynecological examinations) is still chosen, in order to lie supine. In reality, the right position is the one that makes the woman feel better: it is also possible to give birth while squatting, on all fours, standing or lying on one side with one leg to the chest.  

Text updated on 15 September 2022

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