Finally, here is the next part of my post about the Bradley Method! I must apologize for the delay. I have been so caught up with work in the midst of taking care of two little girls, wifely duties and chores that I didn’t have enough time to write about such an important and detailed subject. But alas, here are tips for all you moms who are expecting a baby on the way! Do read on to learn more about labor.
What I Learned About Labor
How labor starts differs from woman to woman. I have interviewed my mommy friends during pregnancy and not one of them had exactly the same experience. There were commonalities, but the whole process still differed somehow. So this led me to expect the unexpected. But also pushed me to be prepared for whatever may take place.
In the book that I studied for my second pregnancy, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition by Susan McCutcheon, it enumerated possible opening scenes for the beginning of the first stage of labor. The first stage is when you start getting contractions that are consistent and strong enough to open up the cervix and ends when you are fully dilated.
Some of the likely scenarios for the onset of real labor could be either of the following:
· You have contractions that feel like menstrual cramps lasting about 30 to 45 seconds or so and consistently coming back every 10 up to 30 minutes even if you change your position or activities. This lasts for about 14 hours. This is called the textbook labor.
This is what I first thought was happening to me during my second pregnancy, as my contractions started with the same length and intervals - I woke up at 5am and felt like I had cramps while my tummy was hardening, but it was tolerable enough that I kinda slept through it. I was actually more like half asleep because I would feel the cramps but tried to rest anyway. And when I finally decided to get up at 7am I knew I had to start plotting the contractions already. They would usually be 10 to 15 minutes apart and 40 to 45 seconds long. At certain times of the day, the intervals would become 30 minutes apart but then went back to just 10 minutes again.
The contractions then start getting longer and intervals become shorter as the hours go by. Just observe and take note. You will know when you are in active labor already as the contractions are much stronger and come sooner.
· You lose your mucous plug. This may happen way before the actual start of labor. You may not even notice losing it (like me) and they say this is the most unreliable of all the signs of labor. The mucous plug looks like a grayish white matter and may be accompanied by some blood, but only a tinge. Strong bleeding is a different thing altogether.
· Your water breaks. As in you can feel it sort of pop and there’s enough water to soak your clothes. Contractions may start right away or after several hours. If labor hasn’t begun after 24 to 48 hours, doctors usually induce labor but this could be unnecessary as most start labor on their own.
I am fortunate that this wasn’t my opening scene or I would have worried about whether or not labor would need to be induced in case it didn’t start right away. My water broke only after 15 hours of consistent contractions with Natalie.
· Your water leaks. This is different from your water breaking – it’s just slight trickles of fluid leaking. It’s possible for this to seal over and the wait can continue until real labor starts. Doctors who are calm about this and choose to wait rather than induce labor often get the best results. It’s always better to wait on Mother Nature rather than rush unnecessarily.
· False alarm. Contractions are several minutes apart and about 30 seconds long but instead of being consistent with intervals in between contractions, they get further apart and weaken or the contractions even disappear. Real labor doesn’t start until a week later or even longer. You will just have to wait for baby to be ready J
· You get a backache. It’s not just any backache but a strong, recurring one. It peaks and comes back after several minutes. Only a few women start their labors with a backache but when this is your opening scene, the pain can make you stop dead on your tracks. Just take note.
· You can have your baby any minute now. You are already 4 to 5 cms dilated but there are no contractions yet. You wait and wait and wait, but still no baby coming. All you have to do is be patient as labor can start anytime. If you force labor to start, you might end up with a hard labor simply because the baby still isn’t ready. But when he or she is, it may just take a short time or even a couple of hours before delivery.
Here in the
though, doctors usually require you to be admitted already if an internal exam
confirms that you are already 4 cms dilated. Just hope that your body gets to
work shortly after admission or an induction of labor may be done. Philippines
In my experience with Audrey, I was only almost 3 cms dilated when I was admitted. I reached 4 to 5 cms as a result of labor induction but because she just wasn’t ready, my body just didn’t work hard enough to open up the cervix fully. And so I ended up with a C-section.
With Natalie, I spent most of my laboring hours at home. So when I got to the hospital I was already 6 cms dilated. I was able give birth naturally (VBAC) to Natalie 2 hours later.
· Although not mentioned in detail in this Bradley book that I was studying, a bloody show is one of the things that my doctor told me to watch out for.
I actually had a bloody show with Natalie when I went to the bathroom after active labor had already begun. After seeing the bloody show in the toilet, my water broke a few seconds later. All these signs prompted us to get our things ready, although it actually took us about an hour more before leaving for the hospital. I had to keep stopping whatever it was I was doing every time the contractions came so you can imagine how much longer it took! I wasn’t bleeding or leaking in a major way yet so I still felt calm and confident enough about our lack of speed hehe J
If you have strong bleeding though, make sure to notify your doctor right away and don’t wait too long before leaving for the hospital.
· Here are 3 categories of laboring women that you might find yourself falling under:
1. The Speedster: You get contractions about 60 seconds long and 4 minutes apart. After about two hours, your contractions are already 60-70 seconds long and 3 minutes apart. In five hours you are done and ready.
2. The Putterer: You get contractions about 30-35 seconds long and 10 to several minutes apart. It stays this way for a good 12 to 15 hours before active labor begins. You know you’re most likely in real labor but aren’t panicky or feel that you need to rush to the hospital right away. Your labor will probably last a good 22 hours or more.
When I read the full description of the Putterer in my book again during the day that I got consistent contractions, I instantly knew that this was me. Early labor lasted about 12 to 14 hours and by the start of the 14th hour, I knew I was in active labor already and my body was working hard to open up the cervix.
My labor lasted 19 to 21 hours (19 hours if I start counting from when I plotted it, which is at 7am. 21 hours if I start counting from when I actually felt the first onset of contractions).
3. The Puzzler: You get contractions about 3 minutes apart but only 20 to 30 seconds long. You think that they will start getting closer together and stronger, but they don’t. The contractions may become closer, but not strong or long enough so it doesn’t do the job of opening the cervix. It may still take you several hours to get contractions 60 seconds long.
Hope these will be very helpful to you if you are pregnant and giving birth anytime now! And if you aren’t, do read this again or get a copy of the book that I studied when the time comes. It’s really a helpful tool especially for those who are hoping for a natural childbirth.
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