Light contractions cause the cervix to open up and thin out. Baby's head exerts pressure on cervix, speeding up dilation. When cervix is fully dilated, there may be a resting period. When contractions begin again, baby starts down the birth canal. Baby rotates as it navigates through the bony structure of the pelvis. With each contraction, the baby will advance down the birth canal, and slide back up a little after the end of the contraction. The head crowns. As it emerges, the vaginal opening will be stretched around the largest diameter of the baby's head. This sensation has been called by some the "ring of fire."
After the head is born, the shoulders must rotate and slip from underneath the pelvic bone. After this occurs, the rest of the body is born immediately. The baby should be then handed to Mom and allowed to nurse if he or she desires. Nursing helps the uterus to clamp down and stop bleeding, and expels the placenta. The umbilical cord should not be cut until it stops pulsating, as the baby needs all the extra blood he or she can get. There is no need to cut the cord all until the placenta arrives. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 days. The baby should stay in skin-to-skin contact with Mom to help regulate his or her body temperature. This works better than putting them in a warmer. Baby should
remain with mom at all times. Later, after primary bonding has occurred, Dad can hold the baby while Mom showers.
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Copyright 2014 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living