Everyone has their own associations and images attached to birth, but we can likely all relate to the notion that the process is incredible... and we mean that in all uses of the word: mind blowing, awesome, magical, scary, and seemingly impossible. It’s one of the most real reminders that we too are animals (granted, with smartphones that track our contractions), and how it all works is still one great mystery.
And while we don’t know exactly how it all works, there is much we do know. Here are four magical ways your body adapts during the birth process to help you meet your baby.
1. A Pelvis Like Elvis. Maybe you have started to feel a bit off balance lately, or like you are bumping into more things? Meet your hormone relaxin, which increases dramatically in pregnancy and is what you have to thank for that loosy-goosy feeling. Relaxin helps to, well, relax your muscles, joints and ligaments. And while this can be offputting at first, it’ll be your best friend when the time for pushing comes. Elevated levels of relaxin allow your pelvis and pelvic floor to be extra bendy and flex so that there is more space for baby to fit through! Your tailbone can scootch back, the joint in your pubic bone can stretch, and when pressure is applied to the ilium, it opens the pelvic outlet.
2. Drugs Au Natural. Ever wonder how you can possibly handle the sensations attached to labor, or how you can just let it all go? During labor you will produce a very high level of beta-endorphins, which have a similar effect to opiates like Demerol (sometimes used as part of the Epidural) and Morphine. Beta-endorphins promote a feeling of relaxation and euphoria and helps you get “in the zone.” For more tips on coping through labor sensations, check out this article.
3. Press that "Eject" Button! Okay, not exactly (wouldn't that be AWESOME) but there is a fetal ejection reflex that can be activated if the birthing person is left undisturbed in a dim and warm environment and feels totally relaxed and safe. Caused by a surge of adrenaline, this reflex triggers strong and rapid contractions allowing baby to be born quite rapidly. Typically before it happens, there is a great surge of energy and a sudden need to be more upright, or bend forward. While this reflex is more rare and requires certain conditions, the good news is that the “urge to push” happens to just about everyone (though if you have an epidural it can be difficult to feel). This “urge to push” is your body’s way of helping you to birth your baby and a good reminder that while you will certainly have to help, you do have a little extra umph behind ya! Score!
4. Your newborn can crawl! Sort of. Ever watch any of those "breast crawl" videos. Shortly after they are born, babies can "crawl" up to your breasts and start feeding. The ability to crawl comes from a reflex created as a result of your contracting uterus. As long as your baby isn’t breech, during contractions, the fundus (top of the uterus) will be pressing down on baby's butt and feet. And, when they are born, this will allow them to crawl or kick their way up to the breasts to find the good stuff. All thanks to all those contractions. Go baby go!