Download video: Vagina Delivery, Amazing Birth Video, Very Graphic, Discretion Advised
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This video is for educational purposes and is meant to help expectant mothers by showing the real birth experience.
What is it?
Giving birth, having a baby.
What is it?
Labour is the process of giving birth. Nothing to do with Brown or Blair (hardy har.)
Why do I need to know?
You may be pregnant, or know someone who is. Besides, knowledge is power and we should all respect what our mums have been through.
Is it painful?
Yes, for most women. But pain is always reduced if we:
Understand why it's happening
Know it means things are going right, not wrong
Why does it have to hurt?
By the end of pregnancy, the womb has become a big, muscular sack. It's been a home for the baby for nine months. Now it needs to push that baby out into the world.
Most labour pain comes from the powerful squeezing of these womb muscles. These are called contractions and they have lots to do:
1. Stretch open the cervix (neck of the womb) to 10cm wide (the size of most babies' heads.) This stretching is called the First Stage of labour and it takes about 10 hours.
We may start by getting contractions lasting for 30-60 seconds every 5-20 minutes. In between contractions, there's usually no pain, so we can rest. As labour continues, the contractions become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting.
The feeling is difficult to describe and once it's over, it's difficult to remember. Most people say the nearest thing to it is extremely bad period pains.
2. Contractions also have to swivel the baby round so it's facing the mother's spine. This is the easiest way out.
3. Then they have to push the baby out through the vagina. This is the Second Stage of labour and takes about 1-2 hours. At this point the mother can start pushing too, using her tummy muscles along with the womb to push the baby out.
4. Finally, the Third Stage is where the placenta and umbilical cord come out. These bits have attached and fed the baby inside. Most mums are too distracted with their newborn to notice this stage.
All this is heavy work. Think how your thighs feel even after a short run. Our womb muscles have to keep working out for an average of 15 hours. Phew. No wonder it hurts.
So what's the good news?
There are loads of things we can do to make labour easier. Anything from bobbing in a warm bath while having a massage, to injections (called epidurals) in our backs to block the pain. So while labour is rarely pain free, it needn't be endless agony either.
Will I lose control during labour?
Labour does sound undignified doesn't it? Our bodies are on show, we may be shouting or even weeing in public. Oh the cringe. But we don't have to be naked, we don't have to be watched all the time and we don't need to be examined internally very often. Many women write a Birth Plan about how they want their labour to be. The midwives can then try to make sure we stay in control.
Will it be like on telly?
Life (especially labour) is never like they do it on the telly. We rarely squirt out a puddle of fluid like a gush when our waters break. Nor are we in sudden agony, writhing in a sweaty heap on the sofa. The pain comes on gradually. So we've plenty of time to call for support. Usually in the shape of our midwife.
Will my tummy go flat immediately?
Nope. It takes nine months to grow a baby, and at least that to get our body back to normal.
'Slebs' have ways of ensuring they lose weight quickly after giving birth, including everything from liposuction to dodgy diet and exercise regimes.
My friend says if I smoke I'll avoid piling on the pounds.
What? You're more likely to get a baby with breathing problems. Stub it out, now more than ever.
If my baby is small, will it hurt less?
Nope. Some of the hardest labours are for tiny tots. And I've seen enormous babies delivered without so much as a whimper.
Will sex ever be the same again?
Sure our vaginas stretch during labour. But they soon spring right back into shape. Faster than our tummies, anyway. 'Specially if we practise our(pelvic floor exercises - start now girls...). Some women say they like sex better after childbirth because they've lost their inhibitions.
What's a caesarean?
A caesarean section (its full name) is where the baby's brought out by an operation. A doctor cuts through our lower tummy into our womb and delivers the baby. The scar is usually just above our pubic hair line. Sometimes a caesarean is done for medical reasons. Sometimes women choose to have it. There are pros and cons. But it won't mean our vaginas stay (as one girl I met hoped) Wedding Fresh. And it's not always best for the baby either.