As full term approaches, questions and doubts about delivery-related issues will arise, and possibly be compounded by interactions with friends and family. The following points should erase some of those doubts:
The Time of Delivery
Generally ‘full term’ denotes 280 days of pregnancy (Refer to the chart to calculate the expected due date or EDD). However, the EDD is only an approximation, and delivery may not necessarily occur on that day. The baby may possibly be born eight days before or after this date, i.e. within a time frame of 15 days around the EDD. Do not fix a particular date in your mind according to the EDD calculator or you will end up anxious if delivery doesn’t occur on that very date. Labour pains that commence naturally are beneficial for normal vaginal birth without complications. There should be no unnecessary worry about the timing of delivery.
It has also been observed, that women whose menstrual cycle lasts less than 30 days, tend to deliver before the due date. Conversely, those women who have a cycle of more than 30 days often deliver after the expected due date. However, the reason for the commencement of labour pains, at a particular point, exact reason for the pain has never been fully
False Labour Pains
The uterus is a muscular organ, and to expel the foetus during labour, the muscles begin to contract. This causes labour pains, which are in no way similar to abdominal aches and pains. Pain, in the absence of uterine contractions, is called ‘false labour pain’ and many women, especially those in their first pregnancy, may experience such pain. At times they are similar to labour pains, but with no outcome. It is important to know the difference between false and true labour pains, else it could lead to uncertainty, and unnecessary distress. False labour pains can occur at any time and anywhere in the abdomen, at times above the umbilicus, or in the sides or the back, and they are generally irregular. True labour pains, on the other hand, begin in the lower abdomen, and are fairly regular. The reasons for false labour pains could be flatulence, indigestion, constipation, or irregular bowel movements. False labour pains are dull or weak pains. Unlike true labour pains, they do not become stronger. False labour pains can be experienced even if the date of delivery is not imminent.
Remedies for false labour pains
- Eat food that is light and easy to digest
- Eat a mixture of ginger juice and honey
- Drink hot or warm water regularly
- Apply Santulan Rose Beauty Oil on the abdomen
- Chew on roasted bishop’s weed seeds
If these provide no relief then you should consult a doctor.
Are Labour Pains Unbearable?
Of course natural labour is quite painful, but it has natural causes, and the reward is sweet and fulfilling. If you have taken care to follow the guidelines in this book to prepare for labour, it should be easier to bear. Here is a quick reminder of the guidelines.
- Regular practice of breathing techniques and asanas to keep the muscles required for labour flexible.
- Massage and internal oil applications to keep apanavayu balanced and the birth canal lubricated.
- The application of herbal pastes (lep) as suggested in this book.
In labour, it is advisable to remain relaxed and not focus on the pain, as that will just increase the stress. The process of birth should be experienced with a calm, peaceful mind and a joyful attitude.
Nowadays, many women are inclined to think that they can avoid labour pains by undergoing surgery. However, it should be remembered that labour pains only last for a short time, while the side effects of surgery last throughout life. Another disturbing trend is the use of painkillers during labour. This has one major disadvantage. Since the woman cannot feel her contractions after painkillers, she cannot apply adequate pressure at exactly the appropriate times during delivery, and this could cause problems during childbirth.
Like it has been explained earlier, if you follow all the guidelines from the beginning of pregnancy, the natural process of birth can progress smoothly.
Caesarean vs Normal Birth
During my travels abroad, around 20-25 years ago, I noticed a surprising trend. In cases where the due date for delivery fell on a weekend, the pregnant woman was administered various drugs to induce labour on the Friday just before (to free up the weekend), or a Caesarean section was performed to fit the doctor’s schedule rather than wait for the baby to be delivered at its own time.
Over the years though, many women have begun again to choose to deliver the baby at home with the help of a trained nurse or midwife. This is the result of an increased awareness all over the world of the importance of natural birth. Natural labour is best for the health of the mother and her child.
The Disturbance of Apanavayu
During labour, apanvayu moves downwards, and pushes the baby out. Once the foetus grows to a certain optimum stage, apanvayu is automatically activated. If a Caesarean section is performed, apanvayu becomes active at an inappropriate time, and moves in the wrong direction, resulting in an imbalance of vata dosha. This, in turn, could lead to excessive weight gain, increase in abdominal girth, and lax abdominal muscles after the operation.
A Caesarean section should be performed only if there is a genuine and pressing necessity. In the case of a Caesarean section you need to ensure all the more that you follow all the practices outlined in this book to ensure that vata dosha remains as balanced as possible.
Returning to original form
It is said that going through the process of childbirth is like beginning a new life all over again. To ensure a return to the original pre-pregnancy state, the mother has to make a lot of effort after delivery to pacify vata dosha, and allow enough time for regeneration.
The after-effects of a C-section make it very difficult to carry out the remedies necessary to deal with vata dosha after childbirth. The Caesarean section incision, the stitches, and the resultant blood loss, need time to heal. Besides restricting certain movements, it also restricts the woman from practising certain yoga asanas and exercises. On the other hand, after a natural vaginal delivery the woman will get back to regular movement within 3-4 days.
In any case it is very important that the woman who has just given birth should have oil applied all over her body. Even if oil is not applied to the scar after a Caesarean section, it should certainly be used to massage other parts of the body, such as the buttocks, thighs and back. After a C-section it is even more important to have oil massages, smoke therapy and fomentation to balance disturbed vata.
Preparation for breast-feeding
The body becomes progressively ready for the birth process as early as the eighth month of pregnancy. In the breasts, the changes necessary for milk production also take place. After a natural delivery, the production of milk starts immediately, which does not necessarily happen after a caesarean delivery. With a Caesarean, medication is sometimes required to help the mother start the flow of milk.
Easy acclimatization after natural birth
For the child, the most important benefit of the natural vaginal delivery is that the birth occurs in gradual stages, and the baby emerges from the birth canal very slowly. This helps the baby to get acclimatized to the outside environment, and breathing, crying and other movements happen relatively easily.
The scenario is quite different in a caesarean birth. The child is abruptly presented to the outside environment. Owing to this sudden shock, the newborn needs more time to acclimatize itself to the outside world.
Other Serious Side Effects Of the Caesarian Section
Surgery also weakens the abdominal muscles. This could cause a hernia in the future. The uterus,a very important organ, is also weakened by the surgical incision, and this could affect hormonal balance and, in turn, overall health. Since the uterus is weakened, women who have had a Caesarean, are advised to have two children
at the most. Furthermore, if the woman has a weak constitution, a second child is not advisable at all, or special care is required for her to conceive again. In some cases, the weakened uterus cannot bear the weight of the full-term foetus during the second pregnancy, and a Caesarean is again advised beforehand. If a second conception occurs before the scar on the uterus has healed, after the first caesarian, this can also lead to complications.
After a natural delivery, it is easier for the uterus to contract and slowly return to its normal shape and size. It has been observed that after a Caesarean section, the menstrual cycle post-delivery begins earlier than expected, which has a negative effect on breast milk production, and the health of the mother.
The above verse illustrates the situation, where a woman with a “dry intestinal system” (dryness in the body), delivers a child, and the impure blood, which is not completely discharged or removed with medicines having penetrating properties, subsequently obstructing the flow of vayu. This blood then accumulates behind the umbilicus, the bladder, or laterally to the bladder, forming a knot, which causes pain in the abdomen, bladder, or umbilical region, or a pricking pain in the large intestine. Furthermore, the area around the stomach bloats, and there is difficulty in passing urine. This condition is called makkal Nowadays, most women do not follow diet guidelines, or behavior and lifestyle precautions,
which result in a vata imbalance throughout the pregnancy. In such cases, labour may not begin naturally once full term is complete, and may have to be induced with drugs. This can further increase the vata imbalance.
The healthier and better alternative, is to work towards natural labour and birth, right from the beginning.
- The foetus should be in ‘prakrut asan to ensure a natural, normal delivery. This prakrut asan can change through inappropriate movement by the mother.
- Regular exercise supports the prakrut asan of the foetus.
- Breathing techniques can be used when labour is in progress to make the pain bearable. These techniques should be learned and practised in advance.
- A natural, normal delivery is ideal for the health of the mother and the child. All efforts made to ensure this, should be encouraged.