Pregnancy is one of the most wonderful phases a woman experiences in life. However, along with the new challenges and joys, it also brings with it discomfort caused by bodily changes. This would include morning sickness and a host of bodily changes that take place during pregnancy, and labor pain at the time of child delivery. Those who have already entered motherhood are aware about what the contractions would feel like. However, the issue of concern is that none can predict the exact time when the contractions would occur.
Causes and Symptoms
Almost all pregnant women fear about the symptoms that they are going to endure at the time of childbirth. Labor is characterized by lightening, passing of the mucus plug, and uterine contractions that are brought about by the combined effects of hormonal fluctuations and physical changes. It is quite usual to feel uterine contractions in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Such cases are called false labor. Unlike true labor, they do not get stronger with passing time or change with walking and physical movements.
Some pregnancies have prominent symptoms, while others do not have distinct symptoms. So, once a woman enters the last trimester of pregnancy, she should be mentally prepared for labor contractions that may start at any time. True labor is characterized by frequent contractions, each lasting for about 30 – 70 seconds. With passing time, the contraction would be more frequent, and the intensity of the contractions increase. The cervix stretches or dilates making a pathway for the baby. Eventually, the second stage of labor starts as the baby passes through the birth canal, which is then followed by delivery.
Management of Labor Pain
The main objective should be to help the body relax and deal with the pain in a better way. As the intensity of pain and the symptoms are different for every pregnant woman, the ways of dealing with it during labor may also vary. Here are some tips which might prove beneficial:
Appropriate physical movements (as recommended by the physician) during the course of pregnancy will help prepare the muscles for labor contractions. Regular exercising also increases physical stamina and endurance, which in a way aids in handling the stress of labor and delivery. To be on the safer side, a pregnant woman should plan a proper exercise regimen that suits her.
Mental relaxation and breathing techniques may also prove to be effective. They focus on relaxing the mind and body during labor contractions. Such a methodology involves distracting the mind or focusing on other thoughts, so as to have an easy delivery. There are certain techniques for mental relaxation during labor, which one can learn by attending classes.
Epidural and Spinal Blocks
Epidural and spinal medicines are commonly advocated for women having unbearable pain. Such regional block medications are formulated in such a way that they arrest nerves in the particular area from sending pain signals to the brain. In short, the section below the abdomen is numbed temporarily, with an aim to reduce the pain.
This is a therapeutic approach for managing pain experienced during labor. In such a case, narcotic analgesics are administered intravenously, which reduce the body’s ability to feel pain. Since the use of drugs is associated with certain side effects (especially for the baby), analgesic medications are recommended as the last resort.
Some other methods are acupuncture, hypnosis, and water immersion. However, it is to be borne in mind that nothing can stop painful uterine muscle contractions. This pain is unpredictable, so one should be prepared and decide which technique is suitable. Also, it is necessary to discuss with the physician for a safer and less painful delivery.