Women, Pregnancy, and Labour

I got the inspiration to write this post because my wife recently successfully gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. Those that have been following me closely on the blockchain and on Discord know that this is my second child in 4 years. I was opportune to be part of the process from the period of pregnancy, labour, and giving birth to the two children. If you happen to be someone like me that have experienced the process, it is normal to be in awe of science and the body of women.


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By George Ruiz on flickr

The process of pregnancy starts once there is successful fertilization of the egg by the sperm. The resulting zygote which happens to be just a few cells gets implanted in the uterus by traveling through the fallopian tube, starts dividing through mitosis and after a few weeks, the mass of cells starts differentiating, forming tissues and organs as time progresses. The implantation of the zygote must be a successful one in order to pronounce a woman pregnant, otherwise, the zygote just dies off.

At the end of the 24th week, virtually all the organs of the baby are fully formed, although the baby itself is still at a primitive stage. Also, this is the period during which the baby starts to make some movement within the womb. At the end of the 38th week, the baby is fully developed and they are ready to make their next journey into the world.

Labour

The process of giving birth starts with the contraction of the uterus and the opening of the cervix. The plug of mucus in the cervix which has been formed earlier during the gestation period starts to ease out through the vagina. Contraction of the uterus is initiated by oxytocin. However, the process that triggers the release of oxytocin into the blood is yet to be fully understood. The labour process is in three stages and these stages are completed by the positive feedback loop.

The release of oxytocin into the blood makes the uterus contract, pushing the baby down towards the cervix. As the uterine contratcs and the mother experiences pain, more oxytocin is released into the blood thereby increase the frequency and strength of uterine contraction until the cervix completely opens and the baby is pushed into the birth canal. At this point, concurrent uterine contraction with the push force of the mother will ensure that the baby is delivered through the vaginal opening.

Synthetic Oxytocine assisted labour

Sometimes, due to host of factors, the labour process needs to be artificially initiated or assisted. For example, a post-term pregnancy might requires that the mother is induced in order to initiate the labour process and deliver the baby in order to safeguard the health/life of the baby and the mother. Hormonal imbalance also, most times, causes the positive feedback loop leading to childbirth to be truncated or incomplete. In the former, labour would need to be artificially induced or a Caesarian sectioning done in its place while in the later, the labour process can be assisted by artificial introduction of synthetic oxytocin into the bloodstream of the mother.

Interestingly, I have witnessed both normal labour leading to delivery and oxytocine induced labour that leads to delivery. The first case happening with my recently delivered baby body while the 2nd case happened during the birth of my first boy about two years ago. The synthetic oxytocin assited labour intervene in or interrupts the natural labour rythm. The fact that the exact amount of oxytocin required for each spate of contraction is not known usually makes the labour process to be too rigorous in several cases.


positive feedback of pregnancy labour. By OpenStax - https://cnx.org/contents/FPtK1zmh@8.25:fEI3C8Ot@10/Preface, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30131134

Hence, many oxytocin induced labour are usually more painful than natural labour because the contractions are usually longer and stronger. Some of the side effects of the stronger and longer contractions include reduced heart beat of the baby, uterine tear, and excessive bleeding after delivery. It is pertinent to know that the oxytocin is introduced at the first stage of the labour process in order for it to be an assisted labour.

However, in several cases, synthetic oxytocin is usually used after the second stage of the labour process when the child has been delivered barring the placenta. The mother is injected with oxytocin shot in the thigh region to enable adequate contraction of the uterus for the delivery of the placenta.

One interesting thing I noticed in the two labour process is that they took almost the same time for the baby to be delivered. Of course, this might just be peculiar to my own case. Oxytocin assisted labour has been recorded to have failed in many instances, a situation that will require that the mother goes through Caesarian sectioning in order for the baby to get delivered.

Fallouts of pregnancy and labour

While all the processes that span through fertilization, gestation, and giving birth sound simple in theory, the body of a woman undergo several changes - some pleasant and some so unpleasant - during the period. I have seen or heard about people developing high blood pressure or even hypertension during pregnancy. In some individuals, this abnormality persists even after the delivery of the baby. Many women go as far as becoming temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of pregnancy. The pain associated with labour usually leaves some women traumatized for a while even after the labour process.

Women really go through a lot to ensure the continuity of life, don't they?

Thank you all for reading.

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