A Guide Through Birth While Placing Your Baby for Adoption

By Emily Gonzalez

All things that the birth mother has encountered in placing their child for adoption extend far beyond this initial decision. Every single moment after that concentrates on the act and experience of giving birth. 

The goal of every birth is bringing to life a precious, healthy infant in a nurturing and loving home. Each birth mother embodies the power and strength of bringing life into this world in her own unique way.

The birthing journey is a distinct experience for each individual. However, the process of labor and delivery remains consistent for all: It begins with the first stage, making up of the latent and active labor phases, proceeding into the second stage, which is delivery, and, lastly, concludes with the third stage, the delivery of the placenta.

Whether your pregnancy journey is in progress or near its end or if you are encountering  circumstances like experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, it is integral to become well-familiarized with the fundamentals of preparation and management of labor and delivery. Adoption Choices of Colorado is dedicated to providing birth parents with information about the stages of labor and delivery, pain management options, adoption agencies in Colorado resources, and assisting birth parents in crafting a tailored birthing plan for adoption agencies and adoptive parents.

It’s Time! Understanding the Labor and Delivery Process

The childbirth journey power lies in the hands of the birth mother. She has the ability to choose her delivery setting and whether she wants the adoptive parents to be present. This experience prioritizes the birth mother’s comfort and preferences.

When arriving at the hospital, a labor and delivery nurse will be assigned to the birth mother to help her progress through. The following steps vary depending on the birth mother’s choice of pain management approach. Birth mothers can change their pain management plan as labor progresses:

The different stages of labor are divided into three stages:

  1. Latent and Active Phase of Labor: In this first stage the birth mother’s cervix- the lower, narrow end of the uterus- will fully dilate.
    • Latent phase: During the latent (or “early”) phase of labor, birth mothers will start to feel contractions, which typically span every five to 20 minutes. The cervix will widen to three to four centimeters while also effacing. This is the phase range as the longest and least intense part of labor.
    • Active phase: The birth mother’s contractions will begin to rise in length, intensity, and frequency happening every 3-4 minutes. The dilation of the cervix will expand from four to 10 centimeters. Usually, this phase is shorter than the latent labor phase.
  2. The Deliver Stage of Labor: This stage is defined as the pushing phase. After the cervix is completely dilated to 10 centimeters, the birth mother is actively pushing the baby through the birth canal toward the entrance of the vagina. Contractions differ from the previous stages, parting two to five minutes and lasting for approximately 60 to 90 seconds. The birth mother may feel an urge to push, but she will need to rest in between them. The healthcare provider will guide the birth mother on when it’s time to push.  This is referred to as the crowning of the baby when the baby’s head is visible in the birth canal. Following the crowning is the rest of the baby’s body and cutting of the umbilical cord. The healthcare provider will hold the baby in a lowered position to avert any amniotic fluid, mucus, and blood from getting into the baby’s lungs. 
  3. The Delivery of the Placenta: After the baby is delivered, the birth mother enters the third and last phase, ending with the placenta, which is an organ that nourishes the baby during pregnancy. The birth mother will continue to feel contractions (not as strong as the labor contraction) in the uterus, which will help the placenta move forward for delivery. 

Effective Strategies for Managing Pain During Labor and Delivery

Handling the pain during labor and delivery is a crucial aspect of the birthing process, and birth mothers vary their response to it. 

Many birth mothers aim to have a medication-free birth unless it’s necessary. Some may choose to use an epidural in the process, while others prefer to wait and seek the pain management needs as the birthing process progresses.

Each child’s birth is unique, so it’s essential to become familiar with the pain management options that are effective for each birth mother’s personal needs and preferences.

Below summarizes non-medical pain relief options for the labor and delivery process:

  • Support from a birth partner or doula: Constant support from a partner ( a friend, family member, or loved one) or a doula for the duration of labor and birth can have a positive effect given their emotional reassurance and their assistance in the process.
  • Active Movement: Switching positions continuously, walking around, standing up, rocking, swaying, and using a rubber birthing ball can help manage pain and help with the progression of labor by encouraging the baby to move and get into a good placement for delivery.
  • Have a distraction: Birth mothers should try to keep their minds off of the pain to relax and manage the pain. This can include practicing breathing techniques (slowed-paced breathing), watching TV, listening to music, showering, or playing a game or cards.
  • Apply counterpressures and massage: This relief option focuses on releasing muscle tension in the body. Gentle massages to the back, hips, and shoulders relieve discomfort. Pressing on the lower back to apply counterpressures during contractions assists with the pain.
  • Hydrotherapy: This involves soaking in warm water during labor to help ease the pain in a bath or shower. Being immersed in warm water can help with repositioning and movement which can help in the labor process.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) involves applying pulsed electrical currents to the surface of the skin, typically in the lower back, to activate nerves and lower pain.
  • Acupuncture: This labor pain relief approach encompasses inserting needles in specific places of the body to help alleviate pain, stress, and aches.

There are several additional medical pain management techniques during labor and delivery:

  • Epidural: This is a common method effectively used to relieve pain during childbirth. An epidural involves a doctor placing medication in the lower back to numb the lower body, which means this will limit mobility (standing or walking) until it wears off.  Birth mothers may still experience pressure or discomfort during contractions. 
  • Nitrous oxide: Commonly referenced as a laughing gas, is a gas used for labor relief. Nitrous oxide, blended with oxygen, is inhaled through a mask. It effectively works within a few breaths and wears off after the inhalation stops. The nitrous oxide is administered by the birth mother, and it is a great option for those looking to use little to no pain medication that allows the birth mother to remain alert and active in the birthing process.
  • Systemic Analgesia (Opioids): This option can be given through an IV or as an injection, particularly for birth mothers who cannot or choose not to receive an epidural. It works on the whole nervous system to lessen the pain while remaining conscious, ultimately releasing awareness of any pain and making the contractions more bearable.

A great combination of practices can be applied to manage pain during labor and delivery. It’s important to discuss with a healthcare provider the different techniques that can be applied which are aligned to what works best for the birth mother at the given moment.

Making an Adoption Birth Plan

Creating a birth plan for babies for adoption is utilized to cover details that outline the birth parents’ needs and preferences to employ a smooth and comfortable transition between birth parents, adoption agencies, and adoptive parents.

The birth mother has primary control over making decisions regarding her pregnancy, labor, and delivery with guidance and assistance from an adoption professional. The adoption birth plan is completed before arrival at the hospital, and it is uniquely tailored to the birth mother’s wishes and consent during the birth process and afterward, including who will be present during the labor and delivery, pain management options, whether the mother wants physical contact with the baby after delivery, and specific details in how the adoptive parents will interact with birth mother after delivery- in regards to future contact.

The adoption process presents emotional challenges during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period. A birth mother’s emotions should be validated throughout the entirety of the adoption process. An adoption birthing plan can highlight the emotional support a birth mother may need to access to ensure a positive experience. This can include receiving ongoing emotional support in support groups, availability in counseling services, family and friends who can offer comfort, and respecting the birth mother’s needs and requests.  Prioritizing a birth mother’s emotional well-being ensures an effective and wonderful experience for all of those who are involved. 

For birth parents seeking guidance and additional resources on how to craft a birth plan, Adoption Choices of Colorado offers the support to navigate the development of an ideal birth plan that is reflective of the wishes and requests of the birth parents, ensuring a smooth birth process and steps afterward.

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