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During the first stage of labor, the cervix becomes fully dilated. Dilatation is essential before the baby can be born. The length of this stage varies, for a number of reasons. During the first stage, the contractions become increasingly strong and painful, and the mother feels an uncontrollable urge to bear down. During this stage, the mother especially needs the help and encouragement of the nursing staff and the support person who is staying with her throughout the birth.

It is very important for the laboring mother to relax between contractions. The breathing techniques learned in childbirth classes will help with this. Proper breathing relieves the pain from the contractions. This will help you to save as much energy as possible for the actual birth. If you need more energy, there is no reason you cannot eat an easily digestible, high-energy snack, for example, a spoonful of jam or honey, a sugar cube, sweet, or zwieback. Such snacks contain sugar that is easily broken down and can be used by the body as a source of quick energy. They will not remain in the stomach, and so will not be a problem in the event of an emergency cesarean section. Sips of water are also not contraindicated.

The right position will also help you tolerate the pain better and have more energy. But there is no cure-all; every woman has her own preferences. Some laboring mothers relax by standing up and swinging their pelvis back and forth while rocking back and forth on their feet. Others find relief if they get down on all fours, squat, or sit on their heels. Still others find walking to be a sort of safety valve, for relieving pressure and alleviating the pain.
Page created on: 03/09/2012
Last modified on: 03/09/2012
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