How to manage labor pain
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How to manage labor pain
After you have carried your child for 40 weeks, you will be impatient to give birth, but you will also have some misgivings about labor. Fear not – learning what happens to your body during labor is the best way to feel calm and confident.
As your baby’s birth approaches, it’s important for you to feel as relaxed and unafraid as possible, and one way to achieve this is to know what to expect during labor. Knowledge and a positive attitude will help make your labor easier.
Although every woman’s experience is unique, all labors have a lot in common. You can learn to respond to telltale signs and mentally prepare yourself for what lies ahead. So read on. A few facts will help you get it all in perspective.
Before the Big Event
Mothers often feel different or strange right before they go into labor, feelings that can be explained by the secretion of hormones that affect your mood and heighten your emotions. Babies don’t always come on time so, relax, and watch for the right signs. First babies are more likely to be late since the uterus becomes more receptive to Oxycontin (the hormone that causes contractions), with each pregnancy.
Just before labor, you may feel mild cramping and backache and have diarrhea. You should start relaxing now, and prepare yourself mentally for the contractions that follow. This is important because, although contractions are involuntary, your mental state can help alleviate the pain.
How You’ll know Labor is Beginning
A pink or brown jelly-like discharge called a “show” indicates that the mucous plug that was protecting the entrance to your womb during pregnancy has been expelled. Although this “show” sometimes happens long before labor actually starts, as early as two weeks before the birth, it will let you know that the neck of the womb (called the cervix) is starting to get bigger and that your body is getting ready to deliver your baby.
The beginning of labor is often, but not always, signaled by your “waters breaking”. This can happen in a dramatic burst of gushing fluid, or it may just be a trickle. The fluid should be light in color and will continue to flow until you give birth. If at any point the fluid becomes greenish or black notify your doctor immediately, because it could indicate fetal distress.
Another sign you are in labor s that mild contractions will begin. Labor contractions are more regular than the “fake” contractions you may have felt during the last months of pregnancy, so you can tell the difference by timing the gaps in between them.
If you believe your labor is beginning, contact your birth assistant and your doctor or midwife and let them know what is happening. You may decide to go to the hospital right away, or you may choose to wait, since babies rarely make a quick appearance. Consult with your doctor about when to go to the hospital.
Managing the Contractions
Concentrate on feeling comfortable and understanding what is going on. A contraction is a tensing and relaxing of the womb (or the uterine) muscle, associated with a surge of pain of varying intensity. During labor, contractions make the cervix open in order to allow the baby room to come through. Each contraction helps the opening of the cervix to get bigger (or dilate), eventually reaching a width of head to emerge. Although sometimes difficult to endure, it helps to think of each contractions as a positive step closer to the birth of your child.
It’s a good idea to start timing your contractions as soon as they begin. Time the length of each contraction, and also time from the beginning of the next. When most of your contractions are about five minutes apart (from the start of one to the start of the next), it’s time to go to the hospital.
During early labor, contractions may be similar to menstrual cramps and sometimes don’t exceed a mild backache. Often they feel like a wave of discomfort high across your abdomen, which reaches a crescendo for a few seconds and gradually subsides. With a contraction, you may also feel the uterine muscle hardening and then relaxing.
As labor progresses, you will enter what is known as “active labor.” The contractions will become longer, stronger and closer together. However, don’t expect every contraction to be longer and stronger than the one before. You might have a hard contraction, followed by an easier one, but over the course of labor, contractions will become more intense.
Certain things will help you to relax and prepare for the time ahead. Try to find a comfortable position for yourself. It’s better to sit up or stand, allowing a greater blood supply to the baby and helping to speed up contractions, but if you feel the need to lie down, do so. Breathing deeply will increase the oxygen in your blood and help to relax every part of your body, as well as relaxing you mentally.
As you get closer to delivery, the contractions will probably follow one another relentlessly, especially if labor has been induced and is continuing on an intravenous drip. Take one at a time, breathing through each. Nausea may pose a problem at this stage. Sucking on ice can keep your mouth fresh.
The Transition Stage
The transition stage is the last part of labor before you actually start to push out your baby. Unusually considered the most difficult part, the transition stage begins when the cervix is about 8 cm dilated and ends with full 10 cm dilation. As contractions get closer together and the cervix dilates, you may get the urge to push before the cervix if fully dilated it can swell up and will then take longer to completely dilate. Try kneeling on all fours and raising your behind as this positing will speed up the dilation. You may also feel comfortable squatting, with support, or standing. You may want labor to stop, or think that you cannot go anymore. Your irritability with people around may increase. Fortunately, this stage of labor is short, and the next step is delivering your baby!
Baby Makes an Entrance!
You will most likely be wheeled to the delivery room, where you will push your baby out into the world. With the complete dilatation of the cervix, you will start having an uncontrollable urge to push at the peak of the contractions. You may also feel that you want to empty your bowels, since the baby presses on your nerves. An upright, kneeling, or squatting position makes better use of the force of gravity during pushing, but if you want to try these delivery positions, discuss the possibilities with your doctor during parental visits. He or she might not be receptive to the idea because it is very uncommon in Egypt. Whatever position you’re in, try to work in harmony with your uterus, to move your baby further down your birth canal. Finally, you will greet your baby!
How long will it take?
The length of labor varies greatly from woman to woman. Labor usually lasts between 12 to 18 hours for first-time mothers and about 2 to 10 hours for subsequent pregnancies. The actual delivery usually takes about an hour and rarely more than two for first babies and 10 minutes to an hour for subsequent births.