• Tertia Alkema

What starts labour?

One of the most frequently asked questions we hear in the last trimester of pregnancy is:

“How can I start labour naturally?”


The question is why?

“The doctor says my baby is getting big”

“I am reaching 40 weeks and I don’t want to go overdue”


Your unborn baby starts labour. Researchers now believe that when a baby is ready for life outside his mother's uterus, his body releases a tiny amount of a substance that signals the mother's hormones to begin labour.


During the last part of your pregnancy, your baby's lungs mature which is necessary for baby to be able to breathe when born. In most cases, your labour will begin only when both your body and your baby are ready.


The hormones that get triggered are Oxytocin and Prostaglandins. Hormones are messengers in our body that are secreted by one cell to affect another cell. A target cell responds to a hormone because it bears receptors for that hormone. This is a complex system and everything needs to be in balance. You’re your body and the baby needs to be ready for this. That is why it is best to wait for spontaneous labour.

Best advice is to wait for baby. But how do you navigate this time?

If possible you should start slowing down as you get closer to full term. Stress and anxiety can make the release and flow of the hormones slower.


Participate in activities that will enhance the release of oxytocin, so that when the baby is ready, so are you.

· Surround yourself with positive supportive people.

· Do fun activities.

· Be more mindful of your posture.

· Pamper yourself.

· Rest and sleep more during the last few weeks of pregnancy.

· Guided relaxation or meditation.

· Watch a comedy or romantic movie.

· Read positive and encouraging books.

· Read your affirmations.

· Make love if you feel like it.

· Connect with your baby by talking to your baby and touching your belly

· Day dream of your baby.

· Prayer.


Reaching 39 weeks or carrying a big baby is not a medical reason to induce labour. Neither is being tired of being pregnant or because of your hospital or care provider’s convenience.

Spontaneous labour means your baby is ready. It will also increase your changes of experiencing fewer interventions, which can result in fewer complications for you and your baby and increase your chance of having a more positive birthing experience.


Baby will come, when baby is ready. It needs faith and patience.





References:

http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/basics/hormones.html#:~:text=A%20target%20cell%20responds%20to,influenced%20directly%20by%20that%20hormone.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1948087/

http://www.childbirthconnection.org/maternity-care/role-of-hormones/

https://www.knowledgehub.org.za/system/files/elibdownloads/2020-08/CompleteMaternalBook.pdf

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