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From the first stage of labour onwards the challenge begins. Now is the time for your partner to give full support to you as each and every moment would be trying. 

  

Breathing furnishes a valuable control for toning down the degree of excitement throughout the entire body. Hence try to control your breathing and keep the excitement down. You will also feel the urge to get through the delivery as soon as possible but, whenever you feel a sense of hurry, deliberately slow down. 

  

Breathing for the first stage

  • At the beginning and the end of a contraction, breathe deeply and evenly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

  • When the peak point of contraction comes, try a lighter, shallower kind of breathing. 

  • Both in and out breaths should be through the mouth. 
    The transition from the first stage of labour to the second stage is the shortest phase, but it is the most intense. 

  • The first stage lasts for about twelve hours approximately as the muscles of the uterus contract to open up the cervix (neck of the womb) to allow the baby to pass through at birth. 

 

For your sake

  • Keep moving between contractions.

  • Take a comfortable position.

  • Concentrate on your breathing.

  • Try to stay as upright as possible, so the baby's head sits firmly on the cervix, making the contractions stronger and more effective.

  • Relax between contractions to save energy for when you need it.

  • Sing, or even moan and groan, to release pain.

  • Take one contraction at a time, and don't think about the contractions to follow.

  • Pass urine often, so that the bladder doesn't get in the way of the baby.

 

 Role of the partner

  • Give her plenty of comfort and support.

  • Remind her of relaxation and breathing. 

  • Mop her brow.

  • Give her sips of water.

  • Massage her back.

  • Suggest a change of position.

 

The physiology of the first stage

  • The cervix is normally kept closed by a ring of muscles. Other muscles run from the cervix up and over the womb. 

  • These muscles contract during labour, drawing the cervix into the womb, and then stretching it so that it is wide enough for the baby's head to pass through.

  • The tough cervix is gradually softened by hormonal changes. 

  • By gentle contractions the cervix becomes thin. 

  • Once it is fully thinned, stronger contractions dilate it.

Positions for the first stage

  • During early contractions, support yourself on a nearby surface, such as a wall, chair seat or the hospital bed. Kneel down if necessary. 

  • Rest on your partner if necessary.

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