Childbirth is the most beautiful and natural procedure known to mankind. With a child, a mother is born too. The moment a mother gets the news of her pregnancy emotional turmoil arises. Along with the indefinite amount of pleasure and bliss, she is haunted by ‘n’ number of questions, doubts and worries too. Everyone knows that childbirth hurts, a lot. But How bad will the pain get and What pain relief is available? And what actually happens in the labour room! These are some questions which give sleepless nights to the expecting mother.
Here leading experts reveal how much a childbirth actually hurts and, fortunately, it may not be as bad as you fear.
Cervix, the opening of the womb begins to dilate as the contractions strengthen.
When the cervix is dilated to a length of 10 cm, the frequency of the contractions increases.
The baby then goes through a series of frequent passive movements.
The process called Crowning.
It is the head which appears first. In laymen term, crowning can be explained as the appearance of the baby’s head out of the vagina.
The baby seems to almost wriggle out of his mother.
The baby continues to twist and head is followed closely by the baby’s shoulder and body,
How do you know you are in labor?
No, the question is not at all silly. Especially in the case of first timers false alarms are common. Elizabeth Duff, the NCT’s senior policy advisor, said the question ‘how do I know if I’m in labor?’ is far from being a silly one.
‘If you feel contractions getting more frequent, note them down, if they’re 10 minutes apart or less, it’s likely you’re in labor. ‘But, if they stay fairly mild and infrequent, it’s less likely you’re in labor.’ When a woman realizes she is in early labor, Ms Duff said the most important thing not to panic. She advises carrying on with life, moving around and standing up, allowing gravity to help the process along. ‘As long as you have the energy, keep moving,’ she said. ‘If you are in early labor, it’s also important to have something to eat. ‘Nothing heavy, and something that is easy to digest, but something that gives you energy. ‘Remember, you will need your energy later and as labor progresses you’re likely to feel less and less like eating.’ Annabel Athill and Mary-Rose Pignatelli, of Kensington Midwives, added: ‘Labor may start long before it is necessary to go to the hospital. ‘We call this early labor, and the contractions are building in length and strength, but hours or a day and night may pass before the cervix dilates.
What happens when your water breaks?
No, it might not happen like as they show in movies, in the middle of a shopping trip or at some movie theater. The reality is many women don’t actively register their waters are breaking. ‘You may feel a popping sensation,’ Ms Duff said. ‘And that’s exactly what happens, the amniotic sac is like a tough balloon filled with water, that bursts. ‘Some women will feel a big gush, which can be potentially embarrassing, but it is quite rare.’ Rather, most women describe noticing that they are wet. What is key, Ms Duff said, is that women note what time their waters break. If labor goes on and takes a long time, the information helps midwives judge the risk of infection.
The mucous plug will be passed.
Also known as the operculum, and commonly referred to as ‘the show’, the mucus plug sits at the neck of the cervix, Michelle Lyne professional education advisor at the Royal College of Midwives told Daily Mail Online. The mucus plug’s job is to seal with the womb and prevent infection reaching the uterus. As labor approaches, the plug softens and eventually either before or as labor starts it is passed through the vagina with the fluids when your waters break. ‘This is pretty much the sign that labor has started,’ Ms Duff told Daily Mail Online. ‘It’s often just a small smear, no bigger than around 1cm across, but it’s not always that obvious. ‘Sometimes there can be spots of blood if there is a lot of blood though it is something to tell your midwife.’
The big question; How bad the pain is going to get?
There is no running away from the pain. But yes there are methods which can minimize the pain. Epidural is considered as the holy grail for many expecting mothers. It works by acting on the pain nerves as they enter the spinal cord and numbs the lower half of the woman’s body.
Water birth is an option too.
‘Water birth can help relax a mother,’ Ms Duff said. ‘Even having a warm shower can help. ‘For some women a gentle massage on their back is helpful. ‘The most important thing to remember is when it comes to pain relief; it is very much what works for an individual, and what helps makes her comfortable.’ Furthermore there are a range of different painkilling drugs that can be administered during labour, including pethidine, diamorphine and meptid, given by injection to the thigh. A TENS machine transmits mild electrical impulses to pads on your back. These block pain signals and help the body produce endorphins.
Your midwife might leave the room, and its normal!
It is unlikely that throughout your labour you will have one-to-one care from a midwife, a spokeswoman for the Birth Trauma Association said. ‘You may be attended in turn by a number of midwives, and there may even be times when the midwife leaves the room altogether to attend to someone else.’ While it can feel alarming, there is no need to panic, it is normal and help is close at hand. Though a reality of the fact there are often staffing problems at many hospitals across the NHS, the NCT does place emphasis on the difference one-to-one care can make. Ms Duff said a midwife leaving the room and re-entering can be an interruption to the labour process, and in some cases can lengthen labour.
Situation might go out of hand sometimes!
The umbilical cord can get caught around you baby’s neck. It is alarming, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the baby is being strangled by the cord. Your midwife might ask you to stop pushing for a while. Chances are there that you might suffer a tear down there in your vagina due to the constant stretching and pushing. In some of the cases, the doctor might choose to put an incision to make the opening wider and relieve the pressure. And sometimes, if you baby is in distress your doctor might decide to perform a C-Section. In the event it happens you must not consider this a failure. Have faith and trust your doctor. Choose the best for your child.
But the pain vanishes, as soon as you hold the baby in your arms.
The pain really does go away immediately, so is the power of motherhood. Happy pregnancy and welcome to the never-ending roller coaster ride mother.