Childbirth is among the most memorable experiences in any couple’s life. Pregnancy labor and delivery experience is uniquely different and intimate for each woman. However this pregnancy labor is accompanied with its fair share of anxiety and pain.
As the due date approaches a woman often wants to know when the labor starts. However there is no exact way of determining when the pregnancy labor will start. Only around 5 percent of women actually deliver their babies after carrying them through the whole term. There are some signs that can help identify impending labor. In the last stages of the pregnancy term the baby may seem to have dropped and the woman may find it easier to breathe properly. Frequent urination may be caused because of the increased pressure on the bladder. Irregular contractions also increase in intensity and frequency.
Before the pregnancy labor the mucus plug breaks apart and the cervix begins to thin out and this is called effacing. After this the woman may notice a vaginal discharge that is bloody or pink tinged mucus may also be observed in the discharge. Once this is noticed the woman should go to the hospital. Any breathing techniques that have been learned should be practiced. These can help the woman relax and take her mind off the pain involved in the process.
One important sign of pregnancy labor is the pressure of the baby’s head on the amniotic sac and this causes the rupturing of the membranes. This may result in trickling of odorless and colorless amniotic fluid and the medical attendants should be immediately notified once this is observed. After the breaking of the sac pregnancy labor is imminent.
During labor the uterus which is a powerful muscle rhythmically tightens and then relaxes. This allows the cervix to open and this in turn allows the baby to be pushed out from the birth canal. Different women may experience their pregnancy labor differently. However dull cramps may be initially felt in the pelvis or lower back region. If these cramps are regularly felt for an hour or more and increase in intensity and last for minimum 30 seconds at a time then the labor has begun.
If this is the first labor then it is advisable for the woman to wait till the contractions are around five minutes apart for a period of one hour before notifying the doctor. Till then the woman can take a nap, read a book or engage in some activity that will help her to keep her mind off the experience and that will allow her to conserve her energy. In case of vaginal bleeding the medical team should be contacted immediately. Likewise if the woman experiences continuous and severe pain then it could be a sign of placenta pervia wherein the placenta may block the exit from uterus.
In the hospital the vital signs of the mother are checked and the baby is monitored on a continuous basis. A vaginal examination is then performed so that the baby’s position can be checked. Likewise it allows the doctor to check dimensions of the pelvis and the effacement and the dilation of the cervix. Electronic fetal monitoring may be used to check the heart rate of the baby.
There are three stages included in pregnancy labor. The contractions begin and end once the cervix is fully dilated to around 10 centimeters. Initially the cervix dilates up to 4 centimeters and the woman is able to remain at home. In the active phase contractions occur around 3 minutes apart and may last for around 45 to 60 seconds. Breathing exercises and support is particularly important in this stage. Since the contractions are stronger the woman feels them intensely and may want the pain to reduce.
Finally the cervix dilates the remaining 2 centimeters in the transition stage. It can be the most difficult part in pregnancy labor. The contractions are often long, frequent and may seem rather painful. However the contractions last for a very short time. As the cervix is completely dilated the woman is ready to push the baby.