Day 209, All about Labor & Contractions

Wondering what you could expect during labour? Already feeling Jittery about it? What’s the process like? How is it going to pan out? Don’t worry. This article will take you through all that you need to know about labour, contractions and pain relief remedies during labour.

Labor and contractions go hand in hand. Pain is an outcome on account of the contractions. Labour can last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours especially for first time moms. What do contractions mean? Contractions mean that the uterine muscle is contracting and squeezing and while doing so it pulls at the mouth of the cervix thus causing the effacement and the dilatation. By the time most moms realize they are in labor, they are already dilated 3 or 4 cms when they reach the hospital. After you reach the hospital the resident ob/gyn will examine you in order to confirm that you are indeed in labour.

Now let us go through the labour process according to the stages.

Labour stage 1: This is when you would realize that you’re in labor and will be rushed to the hospital because the baby is on its way soon. In this stage the cervix which is also known as the mouth of the uterus effaces (becomes thin) and dilates which means it opens. Normally the cervix has to efface upto 100% and dilate up to 10 cms which is the size of the baby’s head.

Labour stage 2: In this stage the process of actual birth giving takes place. The baby makes its way from the uterus, into the birth canal and outside into the world.

Labour stage 3: In the third stage of labour the placenta is delivered. This happens spontaneously. After the baby is born, and the cord is clamped onto the placenta and the placenta automatically starts separating from the wall of the uterus and is delivered. This is also referred to as “afterbirth”.

Relief from Labour Pain

Our Bodies are different and react differently. For some mothers labour is a manageable process, for others it is equivalent to long painful hours. For few moms if labor is very long and painful it can cause mental stress and this further slows down the process of labor. Hence, you may want to consider some pain relief options. The most favored and popular option is Epidural Analgesia. This is normally administered in the lower back. One of the benefits of epidural would include – pain relief which means that the mom is comfortable and can rest through labor. Epidural is administered when the mom is about 3 cms dilated. It is not given early in labor since at that point labor can take a pause. These pauses can sometimes even extend into days. Also one must not take epidural once you are 8 cms dilated. After this point you will dilate rapidly and labor duration is not long.

It gives total or partial pain relief hence it can actually be subjective. Which means that in some cases epidural can actually help to speed labor along.

There are also some drawbacks to this form of pain relief. The Epidural analgesia is administered in the lower back and makes the lower body numb. Hence this dulls the nerves which carry the sensations to the brain, thus making it difficult for the mother to push effectively. She would need to be instructed on how to push and this may not always be ideal and effective for the mum and baby. Epidurals also cause blood pressure fluctuations and the mother needs to kept under monitoring to ensure all is ok with her. There could also be a possibility of a local infection and in some cases mums also complain of a headache post the birth if the epidural punctures into the spinal fluid. Since it has a numbing effect it reduces mobility and hence can lengthen labor. However since it does not enter the blood stream it does not reach the baby but findings suggest that the baby can be a little lethargic post birth for a short time and this can result in delayed breast feeding. It also results in edema post birth

If you feel that labor is manageable and you are able to cope with natural forms of pain relief then you can avoid taking the epidural. It is recommended that you decide on whether to take an epidural or not based on your experience during labour. If you feel that labor is long and painful and you cannot manage it, then go ahead and take it. The ultimate decision lies with the Mom.

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