How Painful Is Childbirth?

3 min read

Simran Lakhina
A content writer with a specialization in journalism and mass communication. Being a post-graduate in English, I aspire to write a work of fiction one day. I enjoy interacting with new people and like to be in a positive aura.

Right from the day you find out about your pregnancy, you start to look forward to that very day when your baby is going to come into this world. Each day of the nine months pregnancy journey you think about your baby. First-time mothers are usually more curious about the delivery day. 

They hunt the internet and are always found asking other mothers about how the delivery goes and what kind of pain they experienced while delivering. Some women narrate their story of easy labor with a few contractions here and there while others may scare you with the intense pain and exhaustion they went through. This all leads to a lot of fear in you about the amount of pain you’ll face during labor. 

What is the truth about labor? How long will it take? How much pain will you face? Can you do anything to diminish the pain? You will get all the answers here.

The truth about labor 

Labor pain is subjective. Everybody is different hence everybody experiences different labor journeys. Just the way the nine months of every woman is different, the same goes for the labor journey as well. 

If your mother or sister or friend experienced heavy and long pains doesn’t mean you will go through the same and vice versa. You must keep in mind that pain is not consistent during the labor process. The contractions start as the water breaks but there are little breaks in between. 

When you are full 10cm dilated and the pushing time comes, your pains will relax for a bit. Unfortunately, no one can predict how painful childbirth will be for you. So there is no point in freaking yourself out about the labor pain. Relax and go with the flow and pray for the best. 

Measures affecting labor pain

Science never lives with the unknown answers. Many studies have been conducted on labor pain and the intensity of it. Back in the 1940s a study was conducted over the intensity of labor pain which proved that the pain is not only dependent on an isolated physical sensation. 

It proved that a woman’s fears, moods, memories, and personality have a direct connection with the pain. Additionally, the bearing capacity of a woman is also an important factor. 

Factors affecting the pain and birthing

There are a few minor factors that can increase or decrease labor pain. Different factors that can impact the child birthing experience are as follows:

  • Delivery type: Pain is an inseparable part of delivery. May it be vaginal birth or C-section, the two carry different types of pains. Normal delivery will navigate pain from contractions and any other damage to the vagina and perineal areas. On the other hand, surgical delivery leads to incision pain and gastric pain following the procedure. 
  • Baby position: Many times baby gets mispositioned in the womb. The changing position of the baby will give you back pain and will even increase the contraction pains during labor. This is a common phenomenon at the time of delivery. 
  • Abnormal delivery: Premature deliveries or any other abnormal delivery can be harsh on the mother. It tends to increase the intensity of the pain.
  • Bearing power: Some women have higher bearing power, and so they feel less pain while some are over-sensitive, so they feel intense pain. A woman’s perception towards pain makes a lot of difference. 

Tips to ease the labor pain

It is difficult to predict labor pain. But it is important to be knowledgeable about some pain management techniques that you can discuss with your doctor. Following are some of the tips to ease the labor pain:

  • IV medication: This is a temporary technique that will come via medication directly into your IV or Into the Vein. It is important to note that this technique sometimes leads to nausea, headache, drowsiness, and the transmission of medication to the baby. 
  • Epidural analgesia: This is one of the most commonly adopted methods. It is a continuous infusion of a medicine that goes directly into the epidural space in the spine. This anesthesia blocks the lower half of the body and makes it numb.
  • Water therapy: This method works for some women in relieving the pain. Showerheads or tubs with jets ease the labor pain in some women. You can also choose natural water birth. Water therapy has proven to be quite effective in the first stage of labor. It can help to relieve both pain and anxiety. 
  • Birthing coach support: Women can have a dedicated birthing coach, whether it’s a partner or a hired doula. It helps to ease out the labor pain in many women. A doula supports positioning/counterpressure, comfort measures, advocates for your choices, and will answer all your doubts during labor pain.
  • Massage and counterpressure: There are several massage therapies that have proven to be useful during labor. Different acupressure points on the foot, hand, back and shoulders help in easing labor pain. These massages are not only good for labor pains but also shortens the labor duration. 
  • Music: For many people, music is the best soothing agent. At the time of labor, music has the same impact. Listening to music helps in lowering the stress and blood pressure. A study also revealed that music helps in alleviating pain and anxiety during labor. 
  • Visualization and hypnosis: Since a woman’s mind is already paranoid about the labor pain, she feels more pain because it is set in her psychology. Guided imagery, hypnotic tracts, and visualization help in relaxing the mother. It is like not paying much attention to the pain. 
  • Movement: Keep moving your body to ease the pain. Walk, rock on a birthing ball, and even dancing can help you pass through the labor stage quickly. The more active you are, the easier it is. Try different positions and find your comfort. You can sit, stand, or squat. 

It is difficult to predict a woman’s labor in advance. The intensity of pain varies from mother to mother. The best thing is to keep yourself calm and think about the outcome. It is going to be a smooth ride if you are strong.