Labor can be a long process for some and may go quickly for others. The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s labor experience will be different and your provider is there to make sure your labor is safe for you and your baby.
It is important to communicate to your provider when you start to notice symptoms of labor. Symptoms include:
- Contractions (the tightening and relaxing of the uterus) that happen more than 6 times per hour for more than one hour
- Contractions feel hard and strong
- Contractions that continue to get stronger
- Pelvic pressure or low back pain may be present
- You water may or may not break
- Vaginal bleeding
If you are admitted to labor, it is important to be patient with the process. Labor can take a long time and is a lot or work! There are many options available to help you cope with labor until the baby comes. You may want to consider hiring a doula for labor. A doula is a specially trained person that can help your through labor. If you do not want additional people with you in labor, your family or friends can be your labor support.
You can expect for the provider to monitor you and your baby throughout labor. The monitors may be attached to your belly and will monitor the heart rate and contraction pattern of you and your baby. Monitoring will help the providers know if your baby is able to tolerate the labor process. Throughout labor, you will continue to contract and those contractions will help open the cervix (the opening of the womb). Once the cervix has opened to 10 centimeters, you are able to begin pushing the baby through the birth canal. Some women will feel the natural urge to push at this time, but some medications may block your ability to tell when you have reached 10 centimeters. Your provider will monitor your progress and coach you on when and how to push so that you can birth your baby.
Sometimes, your body or your baby may not tolerate labor well and the best way to deliver the baby is through a cesarean section, also known as a C-section. A C-section is when you have a surgery to remove the baby from the abdomen. While this can sound scary, it can be a safe way to make sure you and your baby have a successful delivery.