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Transition Phase: This phase can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Contractions last 60 to 90 seconds and come two or three minutes apart. SECOND STAGE The second stage can last from minutes to hours – the average is about an hour for a first-time pregnancy (longer if you’ve had an epidural) – and ends with a moment that’s made up in equal parts of relief and breathtaking beauty: The birth of your baby.

THIRD STAGE Delivery of the placenta. It’s not over yet! This stage, which begins immediately after the birth of your baby and ends with the delivery of the placenta five to 10 minutes later, is usually anticlimactic, but necessary. • During the course of your labor, you will be asked to make a lot of decisions. • Do you want pain medicine? • If so, will you want an epidural or general pain medication administered through the IV? • Episiotomy or no episiotomy? These questions are best answered before you are in labor. Once the pain has started you may not be capable of making the best decisions. Labor can sometimes last for several hours, but there are many techniques that can be used to make these hours pass by a little quicker and easier.

have a natural draw toward water. Most women will report that upon entering a tub in labor, the contractions were much more tolerable. I can tell from personal experience that it definitely takes the edge off.

Surround yourself with people that love you and will encourage you - Utilize your partner. At this point they are feeling helpless and useless. Have someone feed you ice chips, fluff your pillow, or massage your feet.

Remove negative energy from the birthing space - If there are spectators in the room who are commenting negatively or making you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, they should leave the space. There is a lot of psychology in birth. If you don’t feel comfortable, the labor will take longer and may be harder. Give in - So many women try to fight the contractions/ pressure waves/rushes in attempt to make them less Photo by Brooke Mendenhall Photography Photo by Lori Ransom Photography

Here are a few ways to make it more bearable: Labor at home as long as possible - You will typically be more comfortable in your own environment with the freedom to move as you need to, and the privacy to act on your instincts to make noise and adjust, no matter how strange the position. Create a comfortable birthing space - Even in a hospital, you can do small things to make your birthing space more welcoming. Dim lights, aromatherapy/scents you enjoy, pictures, your own blanket and pillow, and your own music can all help the space feel more comfortable. Wearing your own clothes is also something you can do to feel more comfortable. Move - I am well aware that sometimes in labor all you want to do is lie down, but that position isn’t always the best for encouraging the baby to move down, especially in early labor. In most cultures, women do not lie down to give birth. They stand, squat, hug a tree, basically anything that feels good to them. They don’t tend to spend their labors lying down. Utilize the water - Ever take a bath to relax? Humans

painful. Give in to the sensations and try to see them more as a rush of energy. They are going to happen no matter what you do. When you give in and let them work, your labor will be more effective and typically quicker. Remember, at the end of this day you will have a tiny miracle in your hands. That alone will make this day worth every pain you felt!

Some things to have on hand after the baby is born – specifically for the new mom • Ice packs – in case of tearing during birth or swelling after; • 2-3 weeks supply of ultra-absorbent sanitary pads; • Panty liners; • Hemorrhoid wipes or cream (even if your pregnancy was trouble-free, these can be necessary after labor).

Oh BABY! | 69

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