Baby Guide


How Painful Is Childbirth?

While nearly everyone knows that pain during childbirth is inevitable, it’s difficult to describe the pain, and even more difficult to describe it’s intensity. Every woman is different and so is her pain tolerance; there are women who opt for an epidural the second the contractions start and then others who go through the entire birthing process with no medication at all. While you can’t really know the pain during childbirth until you have actually gone through it, there are a few pieces of information that may help you feel a bit more prepared.  One thing to keep in mind though; no matter who you are or how high your pain tolerance, childbirth will be painful but it will definitely be worth it.

Why Does it Hurt?

As your body prepares you to birth your child, it is making some major transitions and accommodations to allow you to bring your baby into the world.  Your cervix has to open wide enough to allow baby to slip through. Fully dilated is 10 centimetres; have you taken a look at how big 10 centimetres is?  Your cervix is doing a lot of moving in order to allow baby through, and it is not comfortable.  The pain during childbirth is mostly attributed to this. Labour occurs in three phases, and while the same basic physical things are occurring, the experience is different for each woman.  The timing is also different for each woman as each phase could last significantly longer or shorter than what is considered the “average” time. During the first two phases, the pain continues to intensify as the contractions become stronger and stronger.  Those dreaded “contractions” you hear every woman talk about are what are opening up your cervix.  While they are painful, you want them to be strong; the stronger and faster they go, the sooner your baby will be here, and the sooner you will forget all about the pain

Phase 1

The first phase of labour is the exciting phase.  This is where you start to feel the slightest contractions and are filled with the excitement of knowing that it’s really happening.  You’re not really thinking about the pain during childbirth, you are just thinking that your baby is going to be here soon! At first, your contractions will be slight pains across your back or right over the top of your womb.  These pains do not make you stop and catch your breath, but rather are just a slight discomfort.  At this point you can continue doing whatever you like; it’s best to stay active and busy.  Right now, your contractions will feel like intense menstrual cramps. You may even feel some tightening or pain in your upper thighs.  Many women only experience “back labour” where they feel contractions only in their backs, and others experience the pain both in their belly and their back. As things progress, your water will break and the contractions will become longer and much more intense.  One thing to keep in mind is that real life is nothing like the movies.  Your water breaking does not mean jumping in the car and driving 100 miles per hour to the nearest hospital.  You still have time; especially if this is your first baby.  Most doctors will tell you to wait until your contractions are 5 minutes apart before going into the hospital. As your contractions worsen, it’s a good idea to still try and keep moving.  The best way to deal with pain during childbirth is to walk around, use a birthing ball; anything to keep you moving and help take your mind off of the pain.  At this point, the contractions will start to feel like your abdomen is being squeezed in a vice.  The pain is unlike anything else, which makes it difficult to describe.  If you want an epidural, now is the time to do it; if you wait much longer it will be too late.
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