Labor and Delivery and Caring for Our Newborn Baby – “I Wish I Knew…” Episode 06

In this episode of the parenthood documentary series, “I Wish I Knew,” brand new parents, Karina & Uday, walk us through their labor and delivery story and give us a step-by-step description of the birth of their new baby girl.

Labor & Delivery for Newborn Baby

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Karina championed through labor, walking into the hospital already 7 centimeters dilated, which is rare for a first-time mom. Within only a couple of hours, and a last-minute epidural, she delivered her baby, Celine.

Karina and Uday describe their experience 9 days postpartum with their newborn. They share their thoughts on unsolicited advice, societal pressure on mothers, and the around-the-clock feeding schedule.

Watch the episode for an honest and detailed account of their first weeks as new parents.

Mom and dad hold their newborn baby girl while sitting on their couch in the living room.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Two photos: On the left, dad lovingly gazes at his newborn baby girl. On the right, Mom kisses her newborn baby on the forehead.

Labor and Delivery – The 4 Stages of Vaginal Childbirth

“While each labor and birth is unique, the process of a vaginal delivery follows four stages: First Stage (early labor, active labor and transition), Second Stage (pushing and birth), Third Stage (delivery of the placenta), and Fourth Stage (uterus returns to original size).

During Early Labor

What to Expect: You will begin to notice tightening sensations in your abdomen called contractions. These contractions can last up to 60 seconds and can be between 5 to 30 minutes apart. Contractions will increase in strength and frequency as your labor progresses. At this time, your cervix will start to dilate (open) and will reach 6 centimeters by the end of this phase.

How Long It Will Last: Early labor is the longest part of labor and can last 12 to 24 hours or longer if this is your first baby. Because of this, it is important to be patient and try to rest as much as possible.

During Active Labor

What to Expect: Your contractions are stronger, longer and closer together. Contractions can last up to 60 to 90 seconds and are approximately 2 to 5 minutes apart. Dilation typically happens more rapidly in active labor than in early labor, your cervix dilates to 6 to 8 centimeters.

How Long It Will Last: For many people giving birth for the first time, active labor typically lasts 4 to 8 hours.

During Transition

What to Expect: Your contractions are the strongest, longest and closest together. Contractions can last 60 to 120 seconds and are usually 2 to 3 minutes apart. Your cervix dilates from 8 to 10 centimeters and when you reach 10 centimeters, you begin the second stage.

How Long It Will Last: This is usually the shortest part of the first stage of labor.

Second Stage (pushing and birth)

What to Expect: Your cervix has fully dilated to 10 centimeters. You may feel pressure and the urge to push. Your doctor or midwife will let you know when to start pushing.

How Long It Will Last: On average this stage can last 1 ½ to 2 hours with your first baby. However, you only push when you are having a contraction and you can rest in between.

Third and Fourth Stages (after delivery)

What to Expect: Your placenta is delivered. You may experience chills or shakiness during this time. This stage can take up to 30 minutes. Once the placenta is delivered, you enter the fourth stage of labor as your uterus returns to its original size. Many people feel light cramping during this period.”

Visit the link below to read the full article on Labor & Delivery.

Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Two photos: On the left, overhead crib photo of a newborn baby girl in a pink outfit. On the right, the same newborn photographed through the crib bars.

What Do Contractions Feel Like?

“Many mothers describe contractions that occur in early labor as similar to menstrual cramps, or as severe gas pains, which may be confused with flu symptoms or intestinal disorders. Imagine your contractions as looking like a wave. Each contraction will gradually gain in intensity until the contraction peaks, then slowly subside and go away. As your body does the work of labor, it is likely that the time in between contractions will become shorter.

As the strength of each contraction increases, the peaks will come sooner and last longer. There should be some regularity or pattern when timed. Persistent contractions that have no rhythm but are five-to-seven minutes apart or less should be reported to your physician or midwife.”

Visit the link below to read the full article on Labor Contractions.

Source: Sutter Health

Two image collage. On the left, parents sit on the couch with their newborn baby girl. On the right, and black and white photo of mom kissing her baby on the forehead.

Dilation During Labor

“There are 3 stages of labor: latent, active, and delivery. Active labor begins at about 5-6 cm of dilation. You need to be 10 cm dilated to deliver vaginally. After the birth, you’ll deliver the placenta.

The cervix, which is the lowest portion of the uterus, opens when a woman has a baby, through a process called cervical dilation. The process of the cervix opening (dilating) is one way that healthcare staff track how a woman’s labor is progressing.

During labor, the cervix opens to accommodate the passage of baby’s head into the vagina, which is around 10 centimeters (cm) dilated for most term babies.

If your cervix is dilated with regular, painful contractions, you’re in active labor and getting closer to delivering your baby.”

Visit the link below to read the full article on Cervix Dilation.

Source: Healthline

On the left, a wide-angle photo of a new mom holding her newborn baby while standing in the nursery. On the right, that same newborn baby photographed in the crib from above, down to the diaper.

Epidurals – Benefits and Side Effects

How and when is an epidural for labor pain administered?

If you choose to have an epidural, an anesthesiologist will insert a needle and a tiny tube, called a catheter, in the lower part of your back. The needle is removed and the catheter left in place for delivery of the medication through the tube as needed. You can begin an epidural at any time during your labor — in the beginning, in the middle, or even toward the end — in consultation with your physician.

Does it hurt when the epidural is administered?

The anesthesiologist will numb the area where the epidural is administered, which may cause a momentary stinging or burning sensation. But because of this numbing, there is very little pain associated with an epidural injection. Instead, most patients will feel some pressure as the needle is inserted.

What does an epidural do?

An epidural provides anesthesia that creates a band of numbness from your bellybutton to your upper legs. It allows you to be awake and alert throughout labor, as well as to feel pressure. The ability to feel second-stage labor pressure enables you to push when it’s time to give birth to your baby. It can take about 15 minutes for the pain medication to work.

How long does the pain relief last?

You can continue to receive pain relief through an epidural for as long as you need it. The amount of medication you receive through the epidural can be increased or decreased as necessary.

Can an epidural slow labor or lead to a cesarean delivery (C-section)?

There is no credible evidence that it does either. When a woman needs a C-section, other factors usually are at play, including the size or position of the baby or slow progression of labor due to other issues. With an epidural, you might be able to feel contractions — they just won’t hurt — and you’ll be able to push effectively. There is some evidence that epidurals can speed the first stage of labor by allowing the mother to relax.”

Visit the link below for the full article on Epidurals.

Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists

Close-up of a new mom looking at the camera holding her baby girl, who is yawning.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

What is skin-to-skin contact?

“Skin-to-skin contact is usually referred to as the practice where a baby is dried and laid directly on the mother’s bare chest after birth, both of them covered in a warm blanket and left for at least an hour or until after the first feed. Skin-to-skin contact can also take place any time a baby needs comforting or calming and can help boost a mother’s milk supply. Skin-to-skin contact is vital in neonatal units where it is often known as ‘kangaroo care’. Here it helps parents bond with their baby and supports better physical and developmental outcomes for the baby.

Why is skin-to-skin contact important?

There is a growing body of evidence that skin-to-skin contact after the birth helps babies and their mothers. The practice:

  • calms and relaxes both mother and baby
  • regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb
  • stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding
  • regulates temperature
  • enables colonisation of the baby’s skin with the mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection
  • stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering.

Skin-to-skin contact also provides benefits for babies in the neonatal unit, in that it:

  • improves oxygen saturation
  • reduces cortisol (stress) levels, particularly following painful procedures
  • encourages pre-feeding behaviour
  • assists with growth
  • may reduce hospital stay
  • improves milk volume if the mother expresses following a period of skin-to-skin contact, with the expressed milk containing the most up-to-date antibodies.”

Visit the link below for more resources on skin-to-skin contact.

Source: unicef

On the left: a close-up of a newborn baby girl, alert, looking at mom. On the right, a family portrait with mom, dad and baby girl all looking at the camera.

Cluster Feeding

“Cluster feeding is a time when your baby wants lots of short feeds over a few hours. It’s normal and often happens in the early days of breastfeeding.

Cluster feeding is a normal behaviour for your baby. It’s more common in the late afternoon or early evening, but it can happen anytime of the day.

It seems that some babies prefer to fill up on milk for a few hours then often have a longer sleep.”

Visit the link below to read the full article on Cluster Feeding.

Source: Pregnancy Birth & Baby

Wide shot of a mom standing in her baby's purple nursery, cuddling her baby.

About Marjorie

Hi, I’m Marjorie. I’m a Newborn & Family Photographer based in Los Angeles, California, and the creator of this documentary series, “I Wish I Knew… A Series on Parenthood.”

Portrait of newborn and family photographer Marjorie Cohen.

Soon after I started my business and began hanging out with different families, I realized every single parent I knew had gone through something. Everyone had a story.

I decided to use my background in filmmaking to create a platform where parents could share their stories. My hope is that we can learn from each other and normalize events and experiences that have been labeled as taboo.

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We cover topics such as mental health, pregnancy loss, adoption, divorce, out-of-hospital birth, and more.

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