The time to finally welcome your little one is inching closer. And it’s not just your doctor who confirms the due date for the pregnancy; you clearly see the signs. Those Braxton Hicks, the gentle kicks, and the occasional aches; somehow your baby has found a way to tap to the other side of his world to tell you he/she can’t wait!
And somehow, this also brings to mind the unavoidable moment, when you finally go into labour. It may seem hard to fathom how things would finally turn out. To an extent, you may experience the anxiety blending with the excitement.
While you’re approaching the end of your term, it’s good to know what you should expect. And it’s all the more important if the labour pain is something you’re dreading.
Pain Pain Go Away
How much does labour pain hurt? This is a question that haunts many new mothers-to-be. Going by expert opinions, labour pain can be pegged a 7 on the pain scale. This is when comparing it with other conditions like dental pain and renal colic, which doctors often rate a straight 10 for the excruciating discomfort they cause.
Now, although these two conditions may have left labour pain far behind in terms of the pain factor, there’s something much more important to consider. Labour pain lasts for several hours, probably 7-8 hours or even more. Thus, taking into perspective an intensity of 7 on the scale and the hours of pain, labour proves to be the toughest test of endurance.
Making A Run For The Hospital
We’ve seen it a lot in the movies. Dramatic scenes where the protagonist goes into sudden labour and has everyone in a frenzy. But what about real-life situations? When is the right time to rush to the hospital?
Since every pregnancy differs, so does the time for labour, and accordingly the time to make that check-in at the hospital. Fortunately, you won’t be caught off-guard. Your body will drop some hints for sure in the form of backaches and contractions. These will appear to increase in intensity in the following hours, signaling you it’s time. Apart from this, there are other tell-tale signs that point in the direction of possible labour.
Here are a few indicators to look out for:
- Discharge or mucous mixed with blood
- Water breaking
- Decreased movements of the baby
On noticing any of these symptoms near term, make it a point to contact your doctor or head straight to the hospital. If you plan on checking in at the hospital, don’t wait too long. Factor in problems like traffic, which may delay you en route.
Caesarean Versus Vaginal Delivery – The Better One
When it comes to labour, most people prefer to choose sides. Some propagate that Caesarean is better because it promises a less painful delivery. Others say going natural by opting for a vaginal birth is beneficial in more ways than one.
Looking at the larger picture in an unbiased way, a vaginal birth is indeed the way nature willed it to be. In medicine, this form of delivery is considered normal while evidently a C-section is not. However, in certain cases a Caesarean birth may be the only way out, and possibly the only means to saving both the mother and baby. The requirement for this birthing option may arise from a low placenta, a baby in the breech position, previous Caesarean births, or fetal distress.
Caesarean By Choice?
While Caesarean is known to be the best option when it’s a high-risk pregnancy, there are some parents who prefer this birthing method for reasons other than a medical complication. Experts often attribute this to the Internet and the lack of patient-doctor trust.
Besides, since the Web contains its fair-share of stories, it’s not surprising that couples get influenced and sometimes opt for a C-section, even if medical reasons do not call for one.
Therefore, it’s important that parents trust their doctor to do what’s best. Unless it’s an emergency, the medical industry generally considers a normal vaginal birth to be the safest, even in the long run.
Labour Pain – Is There Really No Way Out?
While being pregnant does include a few aches and other symptoms like fatigue, these can barely match up to the intensity of the pain during labour. It’s a nightmare that inevitably becomes the reality of every normal pregnancy. But you’re not completely at a disadvantage here. You always have pain management techniques to your rescue.
When you begin feeling the initial pain associated with labour, trying out a few lamaze techniques, breathing exercises, or music therapy, could help neutralise it. However, if the discomfort intensifies, you could request your doctor for an intramuscular pain killer. Once injected, this painkiller will block the pain by nearly 30-50 percent.
However, if the pain has escalated beyond its threshold, epidurals are the safest and most effective options. Now, you may often hear young mothers being advised against it. The unsolicited advice goes from ‘No pain, no gain’ to ‘We never tried this, you shouldn’t either’. What do you do in this case?
To put facts straight, epidurals do have a few side effects, but nothing that can’t be managed. In fact, if you asked most doctors, they’d cite a popular statistical study conducted in the US, which found that more women in labour die on their way to the hospital due to road accidents than when administered epidurals.
So go ahead, don’t be a slave to pain. Epidurals are safe for you and your baby!
The Sudden Rise In Caesareans
Caesarean births have seen rising numbers in the recent past, with nearly 40% of such deliveries. “And why the sudden escalation?” You may ask.
While it may seem convenient to blame the hospitals and term it as a money-making gimmick, the truth needs to be weighed. Here are reasons for the new-age rise in Caesarean births.
- Body Type
Medical experts believe that the average Indian woman has a height of 5 feet or more. This genetically puts women in the country at a disadvantage as their bodies are not meant to deliver babies weighing 4kg. However, it’s common for women these days to give birth to babies that weigh between 3.7 kg to 4 kg. This discrepancy could lead to complications if there is no intervention in the form of a C-section.
- The Test Tube Baby Phenomenon
Until a few years ago, the concept of a test tube baby was received with raised eyebrows. To add to this, the process was a definite means to burning a hole in the pocket. However, today, with a growing class of educated young couples, awareness about the procedure has increased with a fall in its prices. Today, it would cost only Rs 1,25,000 for a cycle, an amount that wouldn’t break the bank for certain.
It’s important to bear in mind that while you do get the choice to pick a delivery through C-section, it isn’t necessarily the ideal option, unless your pregnancy has been classified as high risk.
Looking at childbirth and rearing in recent times, the shift in attitudes is evident. In the past, couples would have 6 to 7 children. At times, they would lose 1 or 2 of them to an illness or a medical condition. However, they would take it in their stride and decide to move on; probably plan another baby. But the scenario has drastically changed in recent times, wherein couples do their best to make sure the baby they plan is healthy and normal.
When it comes to pregnancy, several myths and misconceptions still stand to be shattered. One of the many is the glorification of pain and the false heroism associated with bearing it.
Doctors with experience in the medical industry often cite real-life cases of the kind, where generally the elders of the family influence the woman’s decision to take an epidural. The idea that pain is natural and shouldn’t be resisted is ingrained. And it is this misconception that certainly needs to be revisited.
It’s important to make people realise that pain relief is every person’s right. With the advancement in the medical field, ways to prevent and control pain, even the kind associated with labour, is no more a far-fetched reality.
Women must make a choice and decide what’s best for their wellbeing. And, simply hoping the pain goes away is definitely not the best!
Follow Firstpost's show Nine Months — a visual how-to survival guide that brings experience, knowledge and perspective to mothers so they can follow a reliable and singular narrative on pregnancy and parenting. Watch this episode for a comprehensive discussion about what you need to know about delivering your baby.
Updated Date: Jan 30, 2018 19:01 PM