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Postpartum - After Delivery

Labor and Delivery

Being prepared for labor and delivery is important. This article offers information on what to expect just prior to labor, the different types of labor, options for pain management during labor and delivery, and the two ways in which delivering your baby can occur.

One of the more stressful times during a pregnancy is the labor and delivery. These are the final stages of the pregnancy, when the mother pushes the baby out of her uterus, or, if necessary, health care professionals make a cut to deliver the baby with help. There are a few things to expect when it comes to labor and delivery, and being prepared can help you get through this time a little easier.

What to expect just prior to labor

First of all, it is important to pay attention to your body. You body will give you signs that labor will begin soon. While a pregnancy due date can help give you a general idea of when you will go into labor, every woman is unique, and few babies come exactly when it was predicted they would. Here are some common signs that you might soon go into labor:

  • Your abdomen might appear to protrude more, and seem lower.
  • You might be able to feel ease of breathing.
  • Heartburn may recede.
  • You may have difficulty walking.
  • You may need to use the bathroom more.
  • Greater aches in your back.
  • Increased vaginal discharge.
  • Increased Braxton-Hicks contractions.
  • Burst of energy just prior to labor.
  • The release of the mucus plug at the opening of the cervix.
  • Water may break.

It is important to note that labor may start before any of these things happen. It is worth noting that, even though water breaking is a sign of labor in movies, there are many women whose water is broken for them late into the labor and delivery process.

Types of labor

There are different types of labor that are commonly seen in women. These types of labor have different characteristics. Here are some of the more common types of labor:

  • Prodromal: This labor occurs when you have contractions for a long period of time that do not increase in intensity. You should drink plenty of fluids, and alternate periods of light activity with plenty of rest as an energy conservation measure.
  • Back: This is a type of labor in which much of the discomfort is concentrated in your back. This can be quite painful, and even confusing. You can alleviate some of the discomfort with counter pressure, hot water bottle and position changes.
  • Prolonged: In this type, labor lasts a very long time; the whole process seems to take longer than normal. Try to rest and work with the contractions.
  • Preciptious: This is a rapid labor that progresses very quickly and suddenly. You may have to call 911 and be talked through the delivery process if you can’t make it to the hospital.
  • Augmented: This is stimulated labor, either through someone breaking the water or an administration of pitocin, which induces labor. Augmented labor often takes place when you are having frequent contractions, but appear to have hit a block to further progress to delivery.

Pain management during labor

There are many different ways to manage pain during the labor process. Medication is one of those ways. You might want some sort of an epidural to help ease the pain. You can have a complete epidural, in which you feel nothing below your waist, or a walking epidural, in which you can still feel the contractions and some pain, but the edge is taken off. And, in some cases, you can take some pain medication, or you may need some other type of medication to help with your blood pressure.

In addition to medication, there are other ways to manage your labor pains. If you do not wish to have medication during labor and delivery, you should prepare yourself ahead of time. Learn breathing exercises, and prepare for labor with adequate exercise and rest. Your partner can also help by coaching you, and also by providing a massage. Being able to walk occasionally, or give birth in water, can also help ease labor pains.

Delivering the baby

There are two types of delivery: vaginal and cesarean. A vaginal delivery can be done naturally, without medication, or with the help of medication to aid in labor or manage the pain. In this case, the mother uses her contractions to help push the baby down the birth canal. In some cases, it may be necessary for the doctor to use forceps to help pull the baby out. Some doctors will make a small cut at the entrance to the birth canal to give the baby more room. This is called an episiotomy.

A cesarean delivery is one in which the mother is cut open on her abdomen and the baby is lifted out that way. While some mothers elect for a cesarean delivery, in most cases this is used as a last resort if something is preventing the mother from giving birth vaginally, in a way that is healthy for the baby.

How your labor and delivery progress is largely a unique experience. You can get an idea from hearing other women describe their experiences, but everyone is different and every labor and delivery experience is different.

Related Article: Pregnancy by Trimester >>