Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Fifth Stage of Labor: Why?

It’s true.  

You have probably not heard the term, “Fifth Stage of Labor.”  

The term, although not official, is useful in demonstrating the experience of birthing women from the time of their six-week check-up through the first year of mothering.  

The first few hours (or sometimes days) of labor is often termed the Fourth Stage of Labor.  The definition expanded can be used in a more metaphorical sense to describe the weeks following delivery.   

Still, when considering “recovery” in a holistic manner (the integration of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness) some women report that it takes up to two years to be fully recovered

As in most things, it is intensely personal.  Some people have an easier time than others admitting to having needs.  Others have been raised to resist expressing any kind of "need" and have had to navigate their needs on their own, often pushing them down as if they did no exist.  In these situations, one can see how "needing recovery" is not really an option.  
Most would agree, however, that no matter how a woman birthed, no matter her personal sense of feeling strong or weak, that her body did an amazing, rocking, super-hero job of growing that baby in the womb!

Even before the moment that pregnancy test shows the two little pink lines, a woman’s body goes through a magnificent transformation.  From a tiny cluster of cells that develops into a minuscule fetus, she grows the tiny being within her womb (and the placenta through which she will help to sustain that tiny life).  Her body will take all the nutrients it needs from her store of resources in order to accomplish the task at hand.

       The work of a pregnant woman’s body in pregnancy.

So why the 5th stage?

The Fifth Stage of Labor honors the tasks required for the mother’s mind-body to complete the journey of transformation.  The variables are legion.  The previous health of the mother, the landscape of her particular labor -- long or short labor, vaginal or cesarean delivery -- previous health conditions, or pregnancy related health conditions; these and other unique conditions tell the story of what was required of the mother’s body during the nine months that her baby was developing within.

What is required of a woman’s body after the birth?  

Healing from birth requires tending a woman's physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Gaining help from your allies - your people - is critical.

"Who is in your village?"

DoulaTales.  Real people.  Real challenges.  Real joy.  Join us. 

Today's blog was brought to you by Kathie Neff, CD(DONA), Seasons Within Doula Group & Birth Services

Meet the DoulaTales Bloggers: Adriane Garbayo, Andrea Shutt, Deidre Coutsoumpos, Diana Figurski, Elizabeth Valencia, Heather Hanning, Ivette Carter, and Kathie Neff.  

See you next time!


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