While preparing for motherhood, there is the labor and delivery process to anticipate before you can finally meet your little one. Now, there is no way of planning your labor because no two labors are the same. However, anticipating labor by educating yourself can help relieve some of the fear and anxiety.
I have been looking forward to the actual delivery because I will be so close to meeting my son but labor was a source of uncertainty. Being educated about the labor process has really helped me calm my anxiety. My husband and I took a Labor Class at our hospital and we both left feeling much more confident about the big day!
One of the most educational things we learned about was the different stages of labor.
- Early Labor is from the onset of true labor to dilation of 3 centimeters, lasting 7 to 8 hours.
- Active Labor is from dilation of 4 centimeters to 7 centimeters, lasting 1 to 4 hours.
- Transition is from 8 centimeters dilated to 10 centimeters, lasting 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Learning more about these different stages helped to put both of our minds at ease. More than likely I will not go into labor and need to be rushed to the hospital at that very moment! Realizing this makes both John David and me feel more at ease about when true labor sets in!
We also discussed the importance of laboring at home as long as possible in our class. It does seem much more appealing to spend a good deal of my early labor in the comforts of my own home instead of in a hospital!
I have not made up my mind yet as to whether I am going to have an epidural or not. My doctor has recommended one; however, he has told me that I should labor naturally and make the decision at the hospital regarding the epidural. After taking the labor class, I’m feeling much more confident about laboring naturally and potentially giving birth without an epidural although I am not opposed to an epidural, especially if we decide that is the best decision for me.
One of the things that was very insightful was discussing the fear, tension, pain cycle. Our natural response to fear is to tense our muscles. That muscle tension then creates more pain and the more pain we feel the more tense we become. Being able to relax and avoid this cycle helps many women deal with labor pains. I’m already preparing myself mentally to remain calm during the process.
One of the ways I plan to remain calm is to turn to scripture. I am positive two of my favorite verses will give me strength and help me remain calm:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:17
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13
Another way I plan on keeping myself calm is by bringing some of the comforts of home with me. I have already packed comfy socks and chap stick in my labor bag and plan to bring a good book and probably even my computer! Who knows, I may even be blogging through some of my labor!
The book we received in our labor class, The Gift of Motherhood, has a passage about labor that I’m keeping in mind as I approach labor.
“The pain of labor is definable. It comes with the contraction and then goes away. You can control this physical pain with the tools learned in prepared childbirth or with medication. Your choice of how to manage the pain of labor is best made when you are in labor. It is very important that you understand your options and remain flexible on your choices for managing your pain during labor. Developing a plan or set of expectations for your labor will help you to be prepared and feel in control. However, no one can tell you how your labor is going to progress. By expecting the unexpected, you can be more flexible about the options that you choose to use during your labor.”
What were some things about labor that you wish you would have known before hand? (I want to be as prepared as I can be!) Do you have any tips for managing the labor pains?
*I understand we all have completely different approaches to labor and childbirth. These are things I’ve learned that were insightful to me. I do realize that there is no way to really plan for labor because unexpected things do arise. I think every woman should make her own personal decision along with her husband whether to have a hospital birth or home birth and whether to give birth naturally or with pain relief.