What is the function of contractions?
With the muscle contractions of the uterus (labor), the woman’s body prepares to push the child out of the birth canal. They are painful, but necessary.
How to recognize a contraction?
There are two types of contractions: fake and real.
False contractions (also called Braxton-Hicks contractions or exercise contractions) can occur at any time halfway through pregnancy or not at all.
However, some signs of false labor can lead to childbirth and the real contractions help keep the cervix ready, but in fact cervical dilation does not occur.
False contractions are often irregular and are usually interrupted when the woman changes her position.
Real contractions are easily recognizable by:
- their intensity,
- their regularity, they occur approximately every 5 minutes and last 40 to 60 seconds,
- pain in the abdomen or back (or both),
- rupture of the amniotic sac, commonly called “waterfall”; this can not occur even before the onset of labor or until the intervention of the doctor.
What are contractions comparable to?
Birth pangs vary from woman to woman, some feeling more pain, others less.
Reactions to epidural anesthesia are also different.
Psychological aspects must also be taken into account, because when women gave birth at home, this event was understood as a natural process and the atmosphere was different.
Today, the fast drive to the hospital and the fear of the imminent birth create concern, the result is a low pain threshold.
Also, women today often arrive with pain in the legs and abdomen due to pregnancy.
You don’t forget the pain of birth. Here are some examples of the experiences of some women:
– The pain was irritating, but not unbearable.
– I felt a terrible pain.
– The contractions were like muscle cramps and were not so painful.
– At first I didn’t think it was contractions, I thought I had contractions in the intestine. When we arrived at the hospital, the opening of the cervix was already 10 centimeters. It was painful, but not too much.
– I asked my husband to stop the car on the road to the hospital because the pain was unbearable.
– Thanks to the preparation for childbirth, I felt almost no pain.
– The birth was induced and I immediately received an epidural. So I felt only slight contractions, it all went pretty easy.
– The epidural anesthesia did not bring the effect I expected. I felt all the contractions.
– Until the moment the epidural was injected, I felt convulsions.
In a twin birth, the second child is born much easier, so the pain does not change much compared to a normal delivery.
Feeling of cramps
Contractions are described differently, they can be compared to an extreme version of menstrual pain, with the pain of colitis or renal colic.
- “My contractions were similar to menstrual pain.”
- “The cramps started from the stomach and migrated to the pubic region.”
- “It was like abdominal cramps of colitis, but much more painful.”
- “Very painful cramps that started from the uterus and spread down and down to the back.”
- “A very severe pain that emanated from the back and radiated to the stomach.”
- “Very painful menstrual cramps that come and go, that pull down and radiate into the stomach and back.”
- “During labor you feel cramps in the abdomen.”
pressure Some women have described the pain as pressure rather than cramping:
- “It seemed like my stomach was trapped in a small aching bullet, but the contractions were bearable.”
- “It was like my whole body was contracting.”
- “It was as if my stomach contracted and the pain radiated to my back and to the lower rectum.”
- “It seemed like someone was squeezing from the inside.”
What to do when labor begins?
If you think you are ready for childbirth, you should immediately call the doctor (for example, if the contractions occur every 5-7 minutes), even if the woman is not sure that they are labor pains.
If the contractions occur regularly, you should definitely inform the doctor.
You do not have to worry if you visit an emergency station during the night, this is not the first and not the last case.
It is recommended to contact the attending physician if:
- the contractions become more and more intense, but the actual date of birth is still far away (premature birth);
- the amniotic sac ruptures, but have not yet gone into labor;
- the discharge (of amniotic fluid) has a greenish or brownish colour;
- you notice that the umbilical cord has slipped out of the cervix or vaginal canal.
Ways to relieve the pain of childbirth
Supine position – If the woman lies on her back, she presses all the weight of the child and uterus on her back and this is not favorable because it reduces blood circulation.
In addition, the uterus contracts to stay forward and thus works against gravity.
During labor pains, therefore, the supine position should be avoided and a more upright position should be taken.
Induction of labour by administration of oxytocin
Sometimes the discharge is important to protect the health of mother and child.
How to relieve pain – the best solutions to give birth painlessly are natural and some of them particularly effective.
Childbirth in a pool of water can relieve pain and relax the woman, which shortens labor pains.
If these natural options are not enough to relieve pain, the doctor may recommend medication, but there are side effects to consider.
Some drugs numb the body, and in some cases they provoke pain and other complications.
Epidural anesthesia calms the woman in bed, so she is unable to take an active role during childbirth, but can help push the child out.
In some cases, childbirth is hindered and the doctor must use forceps or perform a cesarean section.
The pain is strongest in a perineal rupture in the expulsion phase.
There are many natural methods to help the woman induce childbirth, but often the possibilities are not known.
Some hospitals practice injections of sterile water into the back, which is supposed to help ease physiological pain. Unfortunately, this natural remedy does not work equally for all women.
If the hospital allows it, then acupuncture during labor is also possible to relieve the severe pain in the back.
During pregnancy, the woman should move regularly, 30 minutes a day of walking are already sufficient and help body and mind.
A visit to the osteopath is recommended to improve the posture of the spine in the woman so that it is well aligned before birth.