Your body is amazing. It’s a baby-making, baby-growing and baby-birthing wonder. And it’s high time we celebrated our bodies and shouted about them from the rooftops! Here Daisy teacher Ceri Elms talks us through the wonder that is the uterus….
The female body is an incredible design and when we learn to tap into our natural abilities and trust our instincts, we are a real powerhouse of endurance, adaptability, strength and potency. We bet you don’t give your formidable body half the credit or love it deserves, do you? Well, maybe you will after reading more about the marvel of the uterus.
“There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we.”
Ina May Gaskin, Leading American Midwife *
1. The uterus is your baby’s first home
In its ‘simplest’ function the uterus conceives, grows and houses a brand new human being. In pregnancy, the uterus carries your baby for, give or take, 9 months. It protects your baby and provides your baby with everything they need to grow and develop and ultimately, be born. That is quite simply incredible, and without the uterus, none of us would be here.
It stretches to accommodate a growing baby, is strong enough to hammock the baby safely and carefully in its cocoon and is powerful enough to contract and birth your baby when the time comes. It is in fact an, until now, unsung Super Hero….
2. The uterus is the strongest super hero in the body
By weight, the uterus is the strongest muscle in your body. Yes, the jaw is often listed as the winner of the strongest muscle category, but hear us out: the uterus is made up of vertical and horizontal muscle fibres that intertwine to create a mighty muscle force that can birth a baby. The pressure and power the uterus employs in labour is the strongest force exerted by any muscle in the body (so there jaw, take a back seat please – you are very strong, but you are not birthing-an-actual-baby-out strong!).
3. The uterus is a super shape and size shifter
Pre-pregnancy, the uterus is a pear-shaped organ (only around 3 inches long and 2 inches wide) that fits snugly under your pubic bone. It sits there, minding its own business – except for structurally supporting your lower organs and triggering menstruation each month of course (see point 5 below). In pregnancy, as your baby grows, your uterus changes its shape and size to ensure your baby is perfectly cocooned. It gradually inflates like a balloon up to your rib cage, pushing other organs aside (politely, we imagine) and increases to more than 5 times its pre-pregnancy size, with a capacity up to 500 times more than before! Then, after birth, the clever organ returns to its original shape and size without you having to give it a second thought. Now that’s amazing.
4. The uterus grows its own organ
This is one of the most incredible qualities of the uterus: it is an organ that literally grows another organ – the placenta. The placenta has the hugely important job of nourishing and feeding the baby and connecting the mother and the baby. Once the baby is born, the placenta is then delivered or released if you will, as its work is done and the uterus goes back to just flying solo as a lone organ again. Until the next possible pregnancy, when it will grow a new organ all over again…
5. The uterus prepares for pregnancy every month
As we always teach in Daisy Birthing, preparation is key, and menstruation is actually the uterus preparing for pregnancy by creating a thick lining to welcome and fertilise an egg. If an egg doesn’t embed itself into this lining, the lining breaks down and menstruation occurs. The womb usually does this preparation process each and every month until the menopause, which is pretty impressive. Even though periods can be a real pain, they have a real purpose that the trusty uterus adds to its long list of incredible functions.
Some women have 2 uteruses. 1 in 2000 women have a condition known as uterus didelphys, where the two tubes that usually connect to create one organ, instead each develop into two separate organs. Conversely, 1 in 4,500 women may be born without a uterus, so it’s not an organ to take for granted.
The uterus is incredible, isn’t it? Let’s brag about it, and while we are at it, let’s celebrate the rest of our bodacious birthing bodies!
*Incidentally, American midwife Ina May Gaskin is also worth shouting about as she is the only midwife – and indeed the only woman –to have an obstetric technique named after her: the Gaskin manoeuvre (moving on to all fours to release the baby’s shoulders).