The 2nd phase of labour is often the most feared and for good reason. The thought of passing a football through the vagina must be horrifying. I heard somewhere that it’s equivalent to a golf ball travelling down a man’s urethra! And of course there is that age old debate about whether being kicked in the balls is as much pain as giving birth. Obviously the pain doesn’t last as long but… guess we’ll never know!
The 3rd session was all about coping with the 2nd stage of labour (established labour), which in reality is the business phase. It doesn’t quite start at pushing though. When the cervix is 4/5 cm dilated, the 2nd phase starts and it’s basically the period of time it takes for the cervix to dilate to 10cm when pushing commences. They say that on average a cervix dilates at the rate of 1/2 cm per hour which equates to 6 hours. It was at this point that we played a game with dice to try and get us thinking about our overall time of labour. There are those stories of people saying it was a 2 hour labour but the question is whether they took into consideration the latent phase, the 2nd phase, the 3rd phase or just the actual pushing. To the normal person, labour includes all phases, however midwives only start the labour watch once you’re into established labour (the 2nd phase, 4/5 cm dilated). We wanted to try and understand that labour wasn’t merely the pushing and so using the dice I managed to bag the wife a pretty good 17 hour labour in total. You’re welcome darling! The couple next to us scored a whopping 29 hour labour and she wasn’t too pleased. I’m not superstitious so it meant very little, but did get me thinking about the whole thing and not so narrow minded.
We then moved on to some techniques to speed up the whole process, and similarly to the latent phase, moving round helps and making sure you’re not on your back for long periods of time. Obviously they say water helps, so I think it’s worth getting the pool and see what helps.
The truth of the matter is that whatever is going to happen is going happen. Yes, there are things that mum can do to help things along but there are also things the birth partner can do. In the rest of the session we talked through what the partners can do to help with pain and help speed things up. I’ve summarized some of the main things into a checklist for partners:
#1 Position – Is your partner regularly changing position? They should be, like I have said on many occasions.
#2 Use the toilet. This is important because the less things blocking the birth canal the better. It also gets your partner moving!
#3 Comfort – I know that any women having gone through labour will say that it’s simply impossible to get comfy, but there are things you can do get as comfy as possible. Birthing ball? Lying on your side? Kneeling on a pillow?
#4 Breathing – Check your partner is still breathing. This helps! Breathing should be calm, even, relaxed and with loose shoulders.
#5 Make the most of the intervals between contractions to rest.
#6 Reassure them all the way.
#7 Put your hands on their shoulders and whisper in their ear… “relax….” just relax…. (By all means try this but I’ve been warned that if I do I’ll be taking a baby and a black eye home from hospital.)
Us partners really do have a lot of control over whether the birth is easier or not. Be involved, know what you’re doing, communicate prior and be supportive. Never mind those dozy schmuks on One Born Every Minute… use this list and get alongside her. Dads have babies too right???
Session 4 was all about, that’s right, you guessed it, the 3rd phase. The NCT are pretty clever like that. Pleased my money is buying me common sense at the very least.
So, we’ve talked about latent phase (1st), establish labour (2nd phase) and now the 3rd phase. This phase is pretty much the delivery of the placenta and the ‘golden hour’ immediately following the birth of the baby.
It does throw up some questions. The first being do you want to cut the cord immediately or have a delayed cutting of the cord or have a Lotus birth?
Cutting the cord immediately:
This is the more traditional and conventional thing to do. Baby comes out, midwife puts on the 2 clamps and dad hacks through the flesh of the cord. Job done and everyone’s happy. However…
Delayed cutting of the cord:
Research is now saying that there is quite a bit of good stuff still in the cord immediately after birth. The main substance is iron in the blood. If the baby has this extra boost of iron it can help the baby’s development over the coming months. Now that’s quite appealing, especially when it only needs to be attached for a few minutes after birth in order for it all to make its way into the baby.
A Lotus Birth:
There is a school of thought where parents decide to leave the cord uncut until it falls of naturally. This can take a few days which results in a few questionable implications. The main one being, whilst your baby is attached to 1 end of the cord, the revolting placenta is still attached to the other. Now, I’ve only ever left a rump steak out once, but after 1 afternoon it reeked to high heaven! Let alone carrying around a placenta for a day or so. And how would you even carry it? In a rucksack? A bucket? Maybe that’s what the basket underneath the pram is for?
Managed or Physiological 3rd Stage:
Moving on swiftly and lastly, there is another decision to make here. You can wait to deliver the placenta naturally or have a small injection and it pops out no problem. This is what The Dad Network thinks: It can take up to 1 hour 1/2 to deliver the placenta after birth. I personally cannot think of any reason why you would want to wait that long to deliver the placenta, especially when a small injection can speed it up dramatically. The only side effect of the injection is a headache but in all honesty, the mum will have just passed a football through her vagina…a headache seems like a drop in the ‘pain’ ocean and that’s assuming you haven’t already got a headache which is more than likely anyway!
What about skin to skin contact once the baby is born? Sounds like a good plan, especially when skin to skin can help regulate the babies heart and calm them after birth.
Lastly, they talked about the various forms of pain relief. Here’s a run-down:
#1 Gas & air – Very popular with the dads. Makes you laugh a lot.
#3 Water birth
#4 Epidural – basically numbs you from the waste down. My question is how you can push if you’re numb?
These sessions were incredibly informative and overloaded us with important choices and facts and information and data and statistics and more information and even more information. Our heads were hurting afterwards. This stuff needs to be covered, and I’m pleased it has been and gone now. Information overload is not healthy!