According to UNICEF, each year at least 7 million babies are born. While it takes nine months to grow a full-term baby, labor and delivery occurs in a matter of days or even hours. However, it’s the process of labor and delivery that tends to occupy the minds of expectant parents the most.
The Stages of Pregnancy Labor Pain
Early Labor Pain
Length: Up to 6 hours or longer
What’s happening: Your cervix dilates, or opens, 3 centimeters to 4 centimeters and begins to thin (efface). Typically, mild-to-moderate contractions last 30 to 60 seconds and occur every five to 20 minutes, becoming stronger and occurring more frequently.
Active Labor Pain
Length: Approximately 2 to 8 hours
What’s happening: Contractions continue to become longer, stronger, and closer together, and your cervix dilates to 7 centimeters. This is when most women request pain medication, though sometimes it’s given earlier.
Transition Labor Pain
Length: Up to 1 hour
What’s happening: Pain tends to be strongest as your cervix finishes dilating to 10 centimeters. In addition to intense, closely spaced contractions, you may feel pain in your back, groin, even your sides or thighs, as well as nausea.
Pushing Labor Pain
Length: A few minutes to 3 hours
What’s happening: Intense pain is eclipsed by major pressure as you feel a great urge to bear down and push your baby out—some women describe it as “like pooping a watermelon or bowling ball.” Although pain continues, many women say it’s a relief to push because it helps relieve the pressure. When the baby’s head crowns, or becomes visible, you may experience a burning, stinging sensation around the vaginal opening as it stretches.
Placenta Delivery Pain
Length: Up to 30 minutes
What’s happening: This stage tends to be relatively easy, as mild, crampy contractions ease the placenta out. At this point you’re focused on your newborn anyway.
Signs labour is 24 48 hours away
Here’s what you can expect when labor is 24 to 48 hours away:
- Water breaking
- Losing your mucus plug
- Weight loss
- Extreme nesting
- Low back pain
- Real contractions
- Cervical dilation
- Loosening of joints
How to Manage Labor Pain
- Find a soothing environment
Choose a place to give birth that feels comfortable to you, with space to walk and bathe, as well as a variety of furniture and devices to enhance movement and pain relief: a rocking chair, birth ball, low stool, squatting bar, and soft bed. It should also have policies that encourage you to try a variety of positions. Access to appropriate medical care is crucial if problems arise.
- Choose your team carefully
Midwives, doctors, nurses, partners, loved ones, and doulas can play essential roles on your birth team. Choose people who will treat you with respect and patience. The proper support can help decrease stress and inhibitions, so you can find your best coping mechanisms more easily.
- Learn about labor
You can learn a lot about labor from books, magazines, web sites, videos, classes, a hospital tour, and discussions with your health-care provider, doula, family, and friends. Familiarize yourself with the procedures and customs at your hospital or birth center, and ask about flexibility. Such discussions are best had before labor. More knowledge means fewer surprises.
- Express your fears
Are you worried about pain, needles, medicines, or losing control? Speak with a knowledgeable and trusted friend, childbirth educator, or doula. Voicing your concerns can bring relief as well as allow you to learn more about practical solutions to your concerns. Stating your preferences in a birth plan can also help calm fears.
- Practice rhythmic breathing
Breathing techniques can help you manage contractions. Breathe fully in a slow rhythm during contractions. Release tension with each exhalation and try moaning. Also try taking quick breaths, about one every 2 to 3 seconds (20 to 30 per minute). If you lose your rhythm, your partner can help you regain it with eye contact, rhythmic hand or head movements, or by talking you through contractions.
- Use imagery and visualization
Focus on something that makes you happy (like your partner’s face, an inspirational picture or favorite object) to engage your senses and decrease your awareness of pain. Listen to music, a soothing voice or a recording of ocean waves, and picture yourself somewhere that’s relaxing to you.
- Take a warm shower or bath
A warm shower can soothe you, especially if you can sit on a stool and direct a handheld showerhead onto your abdomen or back. Bathing in warm water may relax you—and it may even speed up labor.
- Keep moving
Move around as much as you can to stay more comfortable. Walk, lean, sway, rock, and squat. Some positions will be more comfortable than others.
- Seek relief with warm or cool compresses
Place a warm pack on your lower abdomen, groin, lower back, or shoulders during labor. Fill a long sock with uncooked rice and heat it in the microwave for about one minute, then place it on your abdomen (make sure it’s not too hot). If it gets cold, reheat it in the microwave. A cold pack or latex glove filled with ice chips can help soothe painful areas—but avoid using it on the abdomen. Cool cloths relieve a sweaty face, chest, or neck.
- Indulge in gentle touch or massage
Touch conveys reassurance, caring and understanding—whether it’s someone holding your hand, stroking your cheek or hair, or patting your hand or shoulder. Have your partner or doula massage you with light or firm strokes using oil or lotion to help soothe you. SEE: List Of Nigerian Food To Eat During Pregnancy