I can’t wait to see my baby, but how long do I have to endure labor pains before I get there? What kind of pain? Many mothers may have these concerns. Even though they know that labor pains are an inevitable part of delivering a baby, they would like to keep them short if possible.
In this article, we will explain the types of pain at each stage of labor, following the stages of delivery.
- How painful is labor pain?
- Prodromal labor pains are a sign that delivery is approaching
- Pain in the first stage of labor: the stage when contractions begin and the cervix is fully opened.
- Length of time in the first stage of labor
- Pain during the second stage of delivery: the stage before the cervix fully opens and the baby is born.
- Length of time in the second stage of labor
- Pain in the third stage of delivery: the stage before the placenta is released
How painful is labor pain?
One might imagine that labor pains are so intense that they are often likened to the pain of pulling a watermelon out of your nose. However, labor pains usually start out very mild and gradually become more intense as the birth progresses. Maximal pain does not come out of anywhere. So how does labor progress? Let’s take a closer look by following the changes in labor pains.
Prodromal labor pains are a sign that delivery is approaching
Labor pains are the pains that occur when the uterus contracts regularly during childbirth. The uterus is made up of muscles, and the muscles of the uterus must contract regularly in order to deliver the baby.
Irregular and weak contractions may occur prior to delivery, but these are called “prodromal contractions” and are different from labor pains. However, since these contractions are a sign that the birth is approaching, you should prepare yourself for the birth when you begin to experience them.
Pain in the first stage of labor: the stage when contractions begin and the cervix is fully opened.
Some mothers worry that they may not be able to tell when labor pains begin, but it is unlikely that they will be able to tell because the contractions that lead to delivery are different from the earlier prodromal contractions in that the dull pains in the lower abdomen and lower back gradually become stronger and more regular. When the regular pains start to hit you even when you are resting slowly, you can assume that the birth has begun.
Although the degree, interval, and length of labor pains vary from person to person, medically speaking, labor is considered to have begun when “the contraction interval is 10 minutes or less, or when labor pains occur six or more times per hour”. In the early stages of labor, the pain is mild and lasts for 10 to 20 seconds.
However, as the uterine contractions gradually become stronger and the intervals between contractions become shorter, the pain becomes stronger as the cervix opens. By the time the cervix is at least 8 cm in diameter, contractions are 2 to 5 minutes apart, and the cervix opens rapidly with excruciating pain.
Length of time in the first stage of labor
The average length of the first stage of labor is 10 to 12 hours for a first-time mother and 4 to 6 hours for a term mother. However, this does not mean that the patient must endure intense pain throughout this time.
Although there are individual differences, the average time between the onset of pain and the full opening of the cervix is about 2 hours. This is probably the most painful part of the day, as you cannot push yet, even though you feel the sensation of “I want to push”.
Pain during the second stage of delivery: the stage before the cervix fully opens and the baby is born.
Once the cervix is fully opened, you can push it finally. At this point, the contraction interval is about 1 to 2 minutes, and the pain is strong, but some mothers say that they were so desperate to push that they did not feel much pain.
Length of time in the second stage of labor
Once you reach the second stage of labor, you will be able to meet your baby within one to two hours for first-time mothers and within one hour for term mothers.
Pain in the third stage of delivery: the stage before the placenta is released
After the long-awaited meeting with the baby, the birth process continues. After about 10 months of oxygen and nourishment to the baby, mild labor pains occur to expel the placenta, but it is not unusual for the baby to feel little or no pain.
The pain for delivery varies from person to person. If you are a first-time mother, you may feel the pain of course. However, once you think about seeing your baby soon, you can handle it as all the mothers do.