From the moment you conceive, you are now on a 9-month countdown. You will also realize that as the big day draws nearer each day, anxiety builds up. However, if you arm yourself with all the necessary information pertaining to childbirth and delivery, you will not have any fear whatsoever; you will know what to expect and how to handle any pregnancy complication you may experience.
When the delivery date is due, you will experience a level of discomfort in your abdomen, pelvic area, back, and bowels.
This is commonly referred to as labor pain. Most pregnant women have described this pain as a very strong menstrual cramp which is as a result of your uterus contracting powerfully to push your baby out.
This pain differs from mother to mother and from pregnancy to pregnancy; for some women, the pain is jaw grinding while others in comparison seem to breeze through the delivery process.
The intensity of your labor pains depends on:
- The strength of the contractions.
- The speed of labor.
- The position of the baby on your pelvis; the ideal position is face down.
Labor pains, however, are never entirely clear-cut; some of the initial signs of labor can be vague.
The Sure Signs of Labor
1. Your water breaks.
The movies we watch have exaggerated this a little bit; when your water breaks, you will feel a little leak of fluid and not a gush of water spilling. Your baby’s head which should be face down at this time usually prevents too much fluid from leaking. The amniotic sac fluid in most women leaks after they have experienced consistent contractions. However, in a small minority of pregnant women, the contractions only happen after the water has broken.
Also, after the sac breaks, you are expected to go into labor within 12 hours. If this is not the case for you, then your labor may be induced. This is because once your sac has ruptured, there is a high probability of suffering from infections.
2. Strong, regular contractions.
The contractions that you experience when you are about to go into labor, do not lessen. In fact, they intensify and you will experience this more frequently over time. These contractions start out as normal menstruation cramps and over time become intense contractions that feel like pressure radiating from your back and moves forward.
True labor contractions are different from Braxton Hicks contractions in that they intensify as time goes on, and they do not stop or slow down when you change positions in any way. Furthermore, you may experience these false labor contractions as soon as your second trimester.
Throughout the 9 months that you are bumping, the cervix naturally prevents your baby from getting infected by plugging up some mucus. As you progress towards delivery, the cervix opens wider and softens leading to the dispelling of the mucus plug. As the cervix widens, the discharge that enters the vagina will either be pink, a bit bloody, or clear.
When you notice this discharge, then true labor pains are hours, days or two weeks away.
During the initial stages of labor, your body is stimulated to release Prostaglandins that trigger your uterus to have contractions and also helps dilate and soften the cervix. Prostaglandins also stimulate your bowels hence the frequent runny stool.
3. Intense back pain.
Most expectant women experience back pains throughout the pregnancy. However, this back pain that is a sure sign that you are about to deliver is different as it is described as excruciating. Around this time your little one is face down meaning that their skull is pressing against your spine.
This causes you to experience pain on your back. Hope you’ve been sleeping with your pregnancy pillow the past few months!
Pain Management During Labor
The capacity to withstand pain varies from woman to woman; depending on your perception of pain, inborn pain threshold and lifetime experiences. Here are ways through which you can manage your pain during labor:
- Take deep breaths.
- Distracting yourself is key. Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie or anything else to get your mind off it.
- Roll on a birthing ball.
- Warm water therapy. Make sure to contact your health provider if your water has broken however.
- Epidurals, if possible.
Birthease is a great resource regarding helping you prepare for labor so be sure to check out their products. Aside from that, you should be pretty much ready for delivery!
Getting Ready For Delivery
Childbirth begins when the cervix is fully dilated; if you are a first-time mother it may take 1 – 2 hours but in subsequent deliveries, it may take an average of a few minutes to 2 hours. Once the widening of the cervix is done, you will then wait for the go ahead to push from the practitioner.
While in the delivery room, you will be carefully guided on how to breathe as you will feel as though you are running out of the air and also experience fatigue. In some cases, women experience nausea and vomiting.
As your baby comes out to the world, you may experience pain in the vaginal and perineal regions; especially as the baby’s head protrudes.
In most cases, an incision is made to widen the vaginal opening through which the baby comes out; at this stage, you may be asked to push more gently as the baby’s head and body come out. And then with the final push, you get to meet your long awaited baby!