Analyzing labour pain: what to expect

Analyzing labour pain: what to expect
August 31 08:35 2016

You are probably used to the idea of labor being a process when you scream and thrash about until the final moment when the baby comes out. This is what the media has taught us and this is why many pregnant women are terrified of labor pains. This fear only worsens the actual experience though, and all that anxiety will not help one bit. You are better off with the knowledge of what to expect during labor so you are prepare. Also, you should move away from that scary picture in your mind as it is most likely not that bad.

This article talks about labor pain; what you should expect and a few tips to remember. Read it and you will be more prepared for the whole process.


What is the Cause of Labor Pain?

It is normal for women to experience some amount of pain during child birth. However, the amount of pain experienced is dependent on a number of factors. Chief amongst these factors is fear, anxiety and lack of preparation. Here we will talk about the causes of labor pain so you are more informed.

Pain is generally caused by injury or a sudden change in conditions of the body. For instance, the brain interprets a cut finger based on the perceived depth, bleeding and other information to pass a feeling of pain proportional to the data gathered to your hand.

The pain experienced during labor is however not caused by injury, it is caused by a change in the conditions of the body of a pregnant woman. This is because of the contraction of the uterus. The back and forth of contracting, relaxing, stretching and opening of the uterus, perineum and the pelvic floor muscles is what causes the pain experienced during labor.

While an injury requires immediate action to remedy the effect, child birth does not require such as you are not in an immediate danger. The pain is caused by a natural temporary change in body function that would soon pass. It helps guide you through the process in an efficient manner.

The Stages of Labor

Labor starts with the release of oxytocin which helps the uterus contract by stimulating it. This contraction signals the beginning of the first stage of labor. The pain starts gradually and is mostly only felt when the cervix begins to dilate (open). When this happens and the cervix begins to stretch, the brain gets signals from the pressure receptors and responds by releasing more oxytocin which cause more contractions. The contractions at this stage are expected to be longer and closer together.


How does labor contractions feel?

Well, many women have likened labor contraction in the past to menstrual pains with extra intensity. These contraction can be as long as 30 seconds and you would feel it more around your cervix.

The brain helps to reduce this pain though through the release of endorphins which are pain reducers. However, the release of endorphins is also followed by inflow of more oxytocin which increases the tempo of the labor.

You can expect these contractions to increase as labor progresses, they can be as much as 1 minute long and you would be able to notice as the intensity peaks. This is necessary to get your baby moving in the right direction, however the pressure from the baby may cause some discomfort until the cervix is fully dilated.

When the cervix is fully dilated, this signals the start of the second stage of labor. During this stage, the contractions no longer serves to open the cervix, rather they will be pushing the baby downward towards the vagina and out of the body. You would expect this to be a very painful stage but many women have described this as a pressure sensation which pushes the baby outward rather than a painful experience.

At this stage, the contractions are more spaced and not voluntary. You would have to work with the pressure though, you push when there is a contraction to get the baby out. You would be able to feel as the baby moves out of the pelvis into the vagina and this comes with a bit of pain.

It is normal to experience some pressure, discomfort and a bit of pain as your bladder, bowel, ligaments, and coccyx bone all shift to make room for the passage of the baby. This stage is to be expected to last a while. This is because the stretching is done slowly in a safe way to avoid any damage to the pelvic floor or other internal organs.

The final stage is when the perineum is stretching to make way for the baby’s head, this is called crowning. The pain at this stage has been described as like a stinging or burning sensation which is for a short while, it reduces ones the biggest part of the baby’s head has been born.

What You Should Remember

  1. Contractions come in a regular pattern and they are a few minutes apart. So you can rest in the pain free minutes between each one.
  2. Contractions increase linearly: They start off mild and peak until the baby is born. The gradual increase in intensity and frequency helps you cope with the sensation. You can expect the feeling to be more intense and frequent with time even though it will start off mild.
  3. Chances are the whole process will not take more than a day so there is no need to worry.


So there you have it, we trust you are more educated about labor pains and consequently more prepared to handle the whole process like a champ! Please let us know any concerns or questions you might have and we will be happy to answer them. Also note that you need to keep learning about pregnancy as there are a number of things you can do to reduce the amount of pain you will experience during labor.


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