Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Childbirth Unmasked 5

Chapter 4 The Womb.
This chapter looks at the anatomy and function of the uterus. Jowitt informs us that the psychology of how the uterus works is just as important as the physiology. Spot on. However, it seems that researchers are more interested in the form and function of uterine activity rather than influences from an emotional mother.
"The well established medical discipline of the science of childbirth deals almost exclusively with the physical action of the uterus. Biochemists are interested in what makes it contract and what makes it relax, and endocrinologists are interested in control of this process by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. ...the role of emotions seems to be largely ignored.
That stance by researchers seems to be mainly the same 20 years later. No one seems interested in why labour hurts for most women when it was never designed to. The role of adrenalin in making the first stage of labour painful is totally ignored. 
This chapter goes on to explain the role of various hormones that affect the uterus at different stages of a woman's pregnancy and birth. She looks at the structure of the uterus, the 3 different layers of smooth muscle, (very similar in structure to the stomach, do you need an epidural every time you eat and your gastric smooth muscle is contracting?) and how it stretches to accommodate a growing baby.
Contractions are explained, especially for the first stage of labour when the cervix needs constant even pressure to dilate effectively.
"...the fetus and the uterus dance an intricate pas de deux which directs the fetus towards the cervix to be ideally placed for the second stage of labour...the mother should be allowed freedom of movement in order to give full rein to these directed contractions. I suggest that painful contractions occur when the uterus is prevented from working as it should." Exactly, when a woman is made to lie down on a bed to labour and her uterus is pushing baby uphill instead of down. Much harder work.
Jowitt warns of the consequences of allowing hospital staff to 'break your waters' as they are there to cushion the fetal head against the cervix.
"...a cushion of amniotic fluid between the baby and the uterus will be to spread the fetal force more evenly." It is now commonly known that breaking your waters releases hormones called prostaglandins which attach to uterine smooth muscle to make the contractions stronger and so painful. See the post - Hazards to a pain free labour - 2.
Finally, the wonderful Margaret Jowitt states:
"Some women go through the first stage of labour without even knowing that they are in labour. They do not feel any pain in the first stage because their brain sees no need to tell them to change either their position or their surroundings."
I have to say that with my first pain free labour I only knew that I may be in labour because my uterus was going hard every 5 minutes. But then, it was 1am and I was sat on my couch with nothing else to do except count contractions.

Pain free labour books now available from Amazon. 


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