What is Labor and delivery really like?

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Answered by: Sandy, An Expert in the Pregnancy and Birth Category
Labor and delivery can be a very frightening time for first time mothers as well as seasoned mothers. Regardless if the date has been scheduled or it happens spontaneously many things can occur along the way before your precious child is actually brought into the world. To fully answer the question I will have to isolate the two different types of labors and deliveries.

Your baby will either come into being spontaneously or he will be scheduled. Spontaneous births usual occur within the estimated time frame given at your initial doctor's visit. It is brought on by contractions and sometimes results in the breaking of your water (amniotic sac). Contractions are your body's way of preparing itself for birth. As your uterus contracts your cervix starts to dilate and thin; as your labor progresses your cervix will dilate more and more. With this your contractions will increase in strength and frequency.

Labor pains can vary greatly between individuals and pregnancies. Usually all women can agree that contraction in the later stages of labor are painful. For this reason there are different pain management options to choose from. One can be given medication through an IV or be administered an epidural. IV drugs such as Stadol helps to calm women during labor so that she can rest in between contractions and have more energy to push when the baby is ready. An epidural on the other hand completely eliminates the pain contributed by labor. However, epidurals have been linked to slowing labor down and they don't eliminate the pressure felt when the baby is ready to be pushed out. A woman's choice of pain management should be thoroughly researched and discussed with her OB prior to going to the hospital.

Scheduled deliveries are usually the result of a complication or a C-section. Based upon your pregnancy's history and how the fetus is doing an OB will elect an induction or order a C-section to be given. An induction is the less invasive of the two as you are given medication that will prompt your body to start the stages of labor. Usually this will result in the patient receiving Pitocin- a drug given to increase the frequency and strength of contractions. These patients usually request an epidural being that the pain is greater than it might normally be had your body naturally gone into labor.

A C-section is a surgical procedure that results in a baby being delivered through an incision in the lower abdomen either horizontally or vertically. Before the procedure begins one is given an epidural to alleviate any pain that may result. Even though an epidural has been administered patients have complained of feeling slight tugging. As with vaginal births women are fully awake during this procedure. The difference is that mothers undergoing C-sections are kept covered so the actually birth is not within her view. After the procedure the mother is usually sore and given medication to ease the pain.

Aside from the technicalities of Labor and delivery there are emotional aspects. Some women are scared of the unlimited possibilities of things that can go wrong. Others are more concerned with the actual pain associated with it. In any facet of the birthing process the reward outweighs the labor. I would advise any pregnant women to concentrate more on providing her baby with the best nutrition and environment she possibly can. The labor and delivery will quickly be forgotten and replaced by the joy of her new child.

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