As the cervix dilates the baby’s head gradually descends further into the pelvic cavity, rotating slowly as it descends. The widest diameter of the pelvic outlet is from front to back, i.e. from the pubic bone to the coccyx, which is why the baby’s head rotates as it is descending.
When labour starts the early contractions draw up the cervix so that it thins out and becomes ready to open. This process can take place in the days before labour actually begins.
The uterus tilts forward as it contracts, therefore it will work most efficiently and have least resistance in a position where a woman is upright and leaning forward.
Encourage women to listen to their bodies in early labour and get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water and eat whatever they desire. Most labours start in the middle of the night, and even though both the woman and her partner will be up and very excited, they need to conserve their energy and ideally go back to bed. When her waves are powerful enough that resting is no longer comfortable then, and only then does she need to do what she needs to do!
Length of labour varies, however hospitals have ‘time frames’ that they expect women to comply with. This is one of the most important roles of a doula, providing support for a couple at home in early labour. This will give them the confidence to stay at home for much longer. It is hugely advantageous for a woman to present at hospital only when she is well dilated and in good established labour. The later she goes in the less likely she will have medical intervention. Labour is also much more likely to progress quickly and smoothly when she is in her own home environment, where she will be more relaxed and has doula support.
First stage is described from 0-10cms dilation, where there are regular waves (contractions), getting closer together and lasting longer. With a baby who is in the correct position, a relaxed Mum, supportive Dad and a doula, this stage should take, on average, 8-14hrs. DO NOT be alarmed at this time frame. Many women do their early dilation while they are asleep, or during the day, often distracted by daily tasks and oblivious to this very early labour. Many Inside Birth® women have quite short 1st stages of labour, with longer 2nd stage.