Being afraid to give birth is understandable. Whether you’ve seen movies depicting birth as an extremely painful event or heard horror stories from friends or relatives, when you’re experiencing birth for the first time, it can feel overwhelming. 

But learning all you can about the birth process is the best way to overcome those feelings of fear and anxiety. The more you know, the more you will feel prepared and equipped to face birth confidently. 

What Happens During Labor?

Before birth can happen, you must go through labor. Labor is the process by which your uterus contracts (also known as contractions), causing your cervix to efface (or shorten and thin) and dilate so that your baby can pass through the birth canal and out through your vagina. 

While these are the mechanics behind labor, it’s important to know that every woman’s birth experience is unique. For some women, labor lasts only a few hours, while others may be in labor for days. The pain experience of labor is also individual for each woman. It depends on your pain threshold as well as other factors, like the position of the baby, pain management techniques, and pain medication used.

There are two stages of labor: early labor and active labor

Early Labor

Early labor officially begins when your contractions become consistent and frequent. This stage is typically the longest and can last anywhere from many hours to days.

During early labor, your contractions will grow increasingly painful as your cervix dilates to 5 cm. 

Active Labor

Active labor is the last stage of labor and occurs as your cervix dilates from 6 cm to 10 cm. This is usually the most painful part of labor but also typically the quickest. 

What Happens During Birth?

Once your cervix is dilated to 10 cm, it’s time to push your baby through the birth canal. During this stage, you will be instructed to bear down as if you’re having a bowel movement during each contraction. It may take only a few pushes or many, but eventually, you will deliver your baby. 

After the baby is born, you will deliver the placenta. 

How Can I Cope with the Pain?

Creating a birth plan can help you go into birth feeling prepared to cope with the pain.

A birth plan outlines what you want to happen during the birth process and takes into account the following:

  • Do you want to use pain medications? If so, which ones?
  • Will you use natural pain methods? If so, which ones?
  • Do you want to listen to music, use aromatherapy, or use hot water for relaxation?

While some women rely on pain medications like an epidural to cope with the pain of childbirth, other women prefer a natural approach that relies on breathing techniques and movement to help ease the pain. 

You’re Not Alone

Learning all you can about the birth process and creating a birth plan are helpful ways to feel more prepared and less afraid of birth. However, it can also be helpful to talk to someone who understands. 

At Pregnancy Care Center of Rincon, we understand what you’re going through and are here for you. Contact us today to learn how we support and encourage you during pregnancy and beyond.