Labor and Delivery

Pregnancy labor can be very painful and terrible. If you are pregnant, knowing a few things can make labor easy and go through a delivery with much ease. It will, of course, be helpful when you are prepared and have an idea about how it will be. By learning signs of labour and how to go about it, you can manage it well. Here’s our guide on pregnancy and labor, which includes how can prepare yourself for labor, manage pregnancy labor & delivery, complications during pregnancy labor and much more on it.

Labor Pain

When the body is ready to deliver, the uterus contracts to send the baby out of the body. Labor pain is thus referred to as the sign that the mother is out and about to deliver the baby. However, sometimes, there could be false labor pain which women experience. Scroll down as we explain to you the different types of labor pain.

Braxton Hicks Or False Labor

Before experiencing true contractions before childbirth, many women have Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as false labor contractions. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, false labor can help to understand the actual labor pain and its patterns. False labor or Brixton Hicks generally occur in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Women experience acute pain similar to that of labor pain in the later months. According to medical definition, false labor is a practice for real labor which exercises the uterus for the delivery. Some women do not experience the pain while some experience acute pain along with breathlessness.

True Labor Vs. False Labor

The timing of contractions is the main factor to differentiate between true and false labor. Other differences you may notice include changes in contractions which includes changing pain patterns. You may feel pail or suddenly it could be put to rest. The strength of the contraction also varies and the pain can be felt in different areas around the abdomen. Thus, it is very important to understand the difference between them. False labor or Brixton hicks is comparatively lesser in pain & frequency as compared to original labor. Actual labor pain is not easy to bear and this is why women are called ‘superwomen’ because of their commendable capability to bear labor pain and deliver a baby.

Braxton Hicks contractions don't come often but they occur at different intervals. These contractions might stop with walking or if you change your position or take some rest. Also, Brixton contractions are usually weak unlike true contractions that are highly strong. While false labor occurs for a minute or two, true labor contractions increase with time and become stronger as you approach the delivery time.

Different Stages of Labor 

Labor is an entire process with multiple stages. It begins with contractions and ends at childbirth. If you are to-be mother, you must know about the entire process for your information. This just makes you more aware and involved into the process of birthing your child. The three main stages of labor are- Contractions, Pushing and birth, Delivery of the placenta. Let us tell you about labor stages in detail.

First stage of labor- Dilation of the cervix

During the first stage of labor, contractions help your cervix dilate and begin to open. This is called erosion and dilation. As your cervix dilates, your doctor will check the dilation and when it is about 10 centimetres, it would be considered as dilation. This first stage of labor usually lasts around 12 to 13 hours for the first baby and 7 to 8 hours for the second baby. The first stage of labor consists of three parts:

Early labor

The dilation of the cervix begins with 4 centimetre. This is the time when most women are at home and resting because the contractions haven’t started yet. This time needs to be rested well. Eat light meals and keep a track of your contractions and when they become stronger, speak to the doctor and go to the hospital.

Active labor

In this phase, the dilation of the cervix begins with the cervix 4 to 7 cm. This is when you should go to the hospital. When your cervix opens rapidly, you will experience contractions every 3 to 4 minutes and each would last for a minute. You should have someone with you by your side to handle the situation. Also, in this stage, chances are that water may broke which would cause a gush of fluid. After the bag of water breaks, you can expect your contractions to intensify. Taking slow, easy breaths is usually helpful at this time. Keeping oneself positive and relaxed can ease the condition. Besides, massage and alternating hot or cold compresses can help you feel better. 

Transition to second stage

The dilation of the cervix begins with the cervix 7 to 10 cm. For most women, this is the most difficult or painful part of labor. This is when your cervix opens completely and contractions occur at every 2-3 minutes and last about 60 to 90 seconds. It's so intense, you can feel tired, frustrated, or irritable, and you may even feel pain from touching. You may feel sweaty, sick to your stomach, unsteady, hot or cold. However, you may find it easier to breathe at the slowest pace throughout labor. 

Second stage of labor - Delivery

The second stage of labor begins when the cervix is fully dilated (opened), and ends with childbirth. Contractions push the baby down the birth canal and the pressure builds up. Your health care provider may ask you to push with each contraction. The contractions keep getting stronger, but they can stretch a bit and give you time to rest. The length of the second stage depends on whether or not you've given birth before and how often, and the position and size of the baby. The intensity at the end of the first stage of labor will continue into this pushing phase. You may become irritable and upset during a contraction. When contractions reach their peak, a woman may even faint from the pain. 

Third stage of labor- Placenta

After your baby is born, your uterus keeps trying to push out the placenta (post-delivery). The placenta usually arrives about 5 to 15 minutes after the baby has arrived. Later in this stage, the baby is born. Most babies drink breast milk after birth. It's hard to wait for some. After this the doctor takes care of both the mother and the child. 

Types of Childbirth and Delivery Methods

There are various types of delivery methods through which a baby is born. Let us tell you about them in brief.

Vaginal Delivery or Normal Delivery or Natural Birth

Most babies are born through vaginal delivery in which the baby is delivered through the birth canal. This is the natural delivery method wherein no incisions or surgeries are done to deliver the baby. Mother bears the contractions and uterus pushes the baby to come out through birth canal. This is the safest method and so, most women opt for it despite the pain involved in the process.

Caesarean or C-section

This is the second most common delivery method wherein a surgical incision is made around the abdomen of the mother to take out the baby. This is recommended in absence of contractions or lesser dilation. Also, when there are complications involved in the pregnancy, doctors prefer c-section to deliver the baby. Some women opt for c-section to avoid going through labor pain.

Water Birth

This is emerging out as a safe natural birthing method other than vaginal delivery. The only difference is that vaginal delivery takes place on the hospital bed whereas water birth is conducted in a portable tub with water(preferable lukewarm). This eases labor pain and is comparatively more relaxing than vaginal delivery but it should only be performed under the supervision of a water birth expert.


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