Exploring your contractions...

Understanding what contractions naturally do is an important first step in hypnobirthing, so you can work with your body... Reminding yourself of exactly what the sensations are doing helps to de-mystify them... every single feeling moves you closer

IMPORTANT! This info is not medical advice. Please contact your care provider with any queries or concerns.

What is a contraction?

Contractions are the rhythmic tightening and relaxing of the womb muscle fibres.

The middle layer (myometrium) of your womb (uterus) is pure muscle, and if all is well, it's strong enough to birth your baby all by itself. A contraction is simply a muscular movement lasting approx 45 - 90 seconds, triggered by pulses of oxytocin.

Oxytocin also 1) increases prostaglandin production: to soften, thin and release your cervix, and 2) causes your body to flood with beta-endorphins: to increase comfort and help you 'zone out'. 
Oxytocin is released deep in the mid-brain when you feel safe, secure, warm and loved (Buckley, 2009).

At the end of pregnancy, when your baby is almost ready to be born, you might notice irregular, becoming more regular, 'lifting up' contractions, where the muscle fibres pull upwards and gather the top of the womb: this can be described as 'tightenings', 'rushes', 'waves' and 'surges' that come every few minutes, with complete relaxation inbetween...

What is a contraction

Each subsequent 'lifting up' contraction causes more muscle fibre to be retained / built up at the top of the womb (the fundus). The reduction in volume inches your baby down and rotates them through your pelvis into a good position for birth, whilst pressing against your softening, thinning, progressively opening cervix...


When the fundus is nice and thick, and your baby has decended deep within your pelvis, adrenaline is suddenly released (aka 'transition') read my transition blog, including quotes from hypnobirthers and this article on transition is worth a read too

Transition shifts things up a gear, and instead of 'lifting up', the muscle fibres are now increasingly and automatically pushing down instead. Your fundus acts as a piston, with expulsive surges sliding your baby down the birth canal (Odent, 1994).

Bearing down 2nd stageBearing down 2nd stage

Highly recommended further reading...

  • Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan, by Rebecca Schiller
  • The Positive Birth Book, by Milli Hill
  • Birth and Breastfeeding, by Michel Odent
  • Birth Reborn, by Michel Odent
  • Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, by Sarah J Buckley
  • New Active Birth, by Janet Balaskas

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