It’s one thing talking about, but another thing dealing with it. Under standing a little about the way your body works during labor will help though. Uterine contractions, the squeezing action of the uterine muscle, which occur every few minutes in labor and eventually bring about the delivery of the child, last up to a minute at a time and are usually painful. The pain at the start of labor is no more than a discomfort and for some women labor never becomes more than that. For most women, however, the stronger contractions of late labor become distinctly painful.
For this reason, some form of pain relief will usually be needed. The controlled breathing techniques of natural childbirth and firm rubbing of the back by your husband, birth partner, or midwife during the contractions help most women to some degree and for some women are all that is needed. Others, however, need more specific pain relief. When you feel you need help, ask for it. If you are offered pain relief when you do not feel you need it, tell the midwife. No-one wants you have an injection or any other form of analgesic if you do not want it, but, equally, the midwife will be anxious to see that you do not have to suffer more discomfort than is necessary. Thus, by whatever means you wish, you will progress through the first stage, and become fully dilated and enter the second stage of labor.
HOW TO TELL WHEN YOU ARE FULLY DILATED
After the first stage has been going for some hours and during the thirty minutes or so before the cervix becomes fully dilated, contractions reach their strongest and most painful. Full dilatation changes the character of the contractions and, with each contraction, you will get a feeling of pressure on the back passage (rectum) and will experience a desire to strain down in the same way that you do when having your bowels open.
About this time, too, there is often a little fresh vaginal bleeding. This is quite normal. To start with, the urge to push is not very strong, but as the baby’s head begins to stretch the lower vagina it will become almost irresistible. You will now be sitting up in the bed, well supported by pillows. During contractions grasp your thighs and let your chin rest on your chest. As soon as the contraction starts, take in a long deep breath, then shut your mouth, hold your breath, and push down as strongly and for as long as you can. When you can no longer hold your breath, let it out and take in another deep one. If you still have a contraction, push again. Do not push if you do not have a contraction.
Pushing is hard work and you need a rest between contractions to regain your strength. This is the time when your midwife will give you lots of encouragement and praise as well as any extra instructions on, that are needed about when to push. Your husband will become very involved and will almost certainly be holding his own breath when you do, willing you to make good progress. During the second stage, the midwife will frequently listen to the fetal heart, or check the trace if a monitor is being used. This is not a cause for alarm. She is merely checking to see that all is well with the baby.