Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Pain" In Labor

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to labor and delivery, is whenever people see a pregnant woman, they immediately begin to tell them about the pain. Well, duh, there’s pain! I’m pretty sure everyone knew that.
So, why is it the first thing people jump to?
I have heard labor pains described in a lot of ways. Cramps, menstral cramps, charley horses, gas pain, or even just tremendous pressure around your pubic area.
So, are there reasons for the pain?
1. Your cervix – It is completely insensitive to burning and cauterization, but it is extreemly sensitive to pressure and stretching. And that is exactly what happens it labor. It has to stretch a good 10+ cms and has to be able to withstand a baby’s head sitting on it for 12ish hours or more.
2. Contractions – The farther your labor progresses, the longer, stronger, and closer together your contractions get. This can be perceived as more painful since resting is fewer and farther between.
3. Your uterus – It works for long hours and you will begin to have the tired, achy feeling. Much like if you ran for miles, and how your calves and thighs begin to feel after awhile. Your uterus is only a muscle, and it has to push out about 20 pounds of stuff, and that’s just with one baby!
4. The pressure – The presenting part of your abby presses on your bowels and bladder. If you don’t empty your bladder at least once an hour it can be extreemly painful. If you bowel was not emptied in early labor, it may feel like you need to have a bowel movement, and it can be very painful.
5. Stretching – While the baby is going through your birth canal and on its way out, you might feel a bit of burning. If you go nice and slow, they say it makes this feeling more bearable and you also won’t tear as much. Some people say that this part feels like you might burst.
The one thing about labor, if you expect it to be painful, it will be!
When pain is experienced, endorphins are released into your system. This is exactly what happens in labor. The pain can be worked through, with the help of these endorphins, and if you are not scared and are open to the experience, your pain will be lessened. It’s like if you tense up for a shot. It is going to hurt a lot more than if you just relaxed.
There are many ways to cope with pain.
1. Position change – If you are in pain during labor, more than you can manage anyway or sharp pains, it is probably your body telling you it is not a good position to labor in. Try changing your position and see if that helps at all. And don’t get caught up thinking you will labor in one position. If your body tells you to move, it might be because you need to move to get the baby in a good position.
2. Walking – This might make contractions faster and more efficinet, so your labor will normally be shorter. But if it is too painful to walk, you don’t have to.
3. Visual imagery – Sending your pain elsewhere, or even mentally taking your mind off the pain can do great things.
4. Soothing music, aromatherapy, acupuncture, etc.
5. Water – This needs to be body temperature, and should be at about the level of the woman’s chest. This can help take the pressure off so you can ‘float’ through labor. 
If you want a natural birth and are in the hospital, it might be a good idea to have a ‘medication password’. Not something you would use in regular speech so it won't come up unless you mean to say it. If you use this password, you want pain meds and you are sure about it. This can free you from everyone asking if you are sure if you say you want meds. This way, you can complain all you want, and you know that your wishes will be followed until you say your password.
Always remember, there is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is only a momentary thing that doesn’t last forever. Labor isn’t suffering. Labor is pain with a purpose.
Also, just know that pain meds most often times do not make you completely pain free. Don’t expect everything to go away completely, even if you use an epidural.  Plus, it is always best to prepare yourself for the possibility you won't be able to get medication in time.  You never know how fast you will labor, if the anesthesiology will be with someone else, and many other things could interfere with having medication sent to you during labor.  Be prepared for every possibility.
Originally posted on http://heartsandhandss.com and tweaked a bit for posting on this site.


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