During those long nine months of pregnancy, as well as imagining what your baby might look like, you’ll probably spend a lot of time focusing on the birth. You may be worried about how you’ll cope during labour, or be looking forward to experiencing childbirth; but either way, you are probably curious about what it will feel like.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to ease your worries. Every labour – and every woman – is different. Everyone experiences labour differently, and each labour is unique, so there isn’t a catch-all answer to explain how labour feels. There are a few words, however, that seem to crop up in most birth stories:
Cramping or tightening
Some women describe labour pains as intense period pains. Other women describe the contractions as feeling more like a tightening, rather than a cramp. This sensation is caused by the uterine wall tightening during contractions. Some women find the cramping or tightening to be painful, whereas others describe it as a mild discomfort. You may find that the feeling becomes more intense as the labour progresses and your contractions become stronger and more frequent.
Some women recall a feeling of pressure bearing down inside them. For some, this pressure appeared only at the pushing stage, but for others it was present earlier in the labour. This pressure is often described as feeling like you need to have a very big poop.
All women experience labour differently, and not everybody discusses pain when describing childbirth. Some women describe a pounding or stabbing pain accompanying each contraction. Try to breathe through the contractions to help you stay calm and focused. Research pain relief options in advance so you know what is available to you during labour.
Some women describe the contractions as coming in waves. From feeling fine between contractions, they then feel the contraction build, peak and ease. You may find that breathing exercises can help you to stay calm during the contractions building.
Lower back pain
Many women experience labour pains in their lower back, just as some women experience menstrual cramping there. Applying gentle pressure to the lower back can help to soothe this discomfort. Ask your partner for a massage, run the shower against the area, or use massage balls to apply pressure.
The sensation of crowning, when the baby’s head is just about to be born, is often described as feeling like a slight burning sensation. Some women find this painful, whereas others have noted a sense of relief at this point during labour.
As you can tell from the above descriptions, labour is a mixed bag and not everybody experiences the same sensations. What your friend may describe as painful, you may experience as little more than a slight discomfort. Labour truly is one of those things that you have to experience to understand.
Are you worried about labour, or are you feeling confident about the experience?
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Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.