When you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, the most pressing question on your mind is most likely about labor pain and delivery. What will it all be like? First and foremost, everyone’s labor experience is different.
While there are many similarities, there is no way to make an all inclusive list of what to expect when you go into labor. But here is what I experienced and you may too.
Last Trimester of Pregnancy
After reaching 37 weeks gestation I was so ready for my baby to come out. By this point, I was far too big to tie my shoes without a struggle. Sleeping comfortably was nonexistent. I couldn’t go more than 20 minutes without feeling like I needed to pee.
The list could go on and on. So, any twinge of discomfort I found myself thinking “maybe now?”. I knew the likelihood of having my first baby early was pretty slim, but those last few weeks of pregnancy you will grasp any straw of hope.
Each doctors appointment from this point on you start hoping the doctor will tell you that you are dilating more and more getting ready to go into labor. For me, I stayed stagnant at 1cm for three weeks.
Bounce on a ball. Climb stairs. Eat spicy food. These are a few of the recommendations you will see if you search “how to go into labor sooner”.
Let me save you the time and effort of your research. The baby will come when the baby wants to come. No amount of Chipotle will urge the baby to come it any sooner than she has planned. But have at it. It is delicious!
I had a doctors appointment two days after my EDD (expected date of delivery). Wouldn’t you know, 1cm dilated… still. So we scheduled for induction for the following Sunday (1 week after the EDD).
That night I went to bed feeling a little crampy, but figured it was just par for the course with being THIS pregnant. Little did I realize that was the beginning of my labor.
Labor Pain and Delivery
Going Into Labor
No sooner than I fell asleep did I wake up feeling a little more discomfort than before. I got up and went to the bathroom. Well, that explains why I was having cramps, I thought. Wrong again, mama.
I laid back down thinking if I slept it would feel better, but I wasn’t able to fall back to sleep. The cramping that began so mildly started to intensify. That is when I got my contraction tracking app and started keeping time.
Signs You Are Going Into Labor
Time your contractions. Five to six minutes apart and lasting approximately one minute in duration.
That’s the frequency of my contractions by the time I realized what was probably happening. But wait a second, that is when the doctors tell you to start heading for the hospital.
Am I sure I am actually feeling these contractions or am I just imagining it? Not to mention it’s 3am. I don’t want to call and wake the on call physician at this hour. So, I waited a little while longer until there was no way to mistaken what I was feeling. The cramps began to take me down to my knees.
Trust your instincts mama. If this is your first pregnancy, you don’t know what contractions feel like. And you don’t want to be that woman who gets sent home for false labor.
When the time has come and you are having real labor contractions. Trust your body and your instincts. You will know the difference, I promise.
Okay, call the doctor.
Go to the hospital they said. Okay, husband we are going to the hospital. It’s 5am now.
My husband is not the most prompt person in the world so it took him about 45 minutes to get his things together so we could go. At this point, I was three seconds from taking the car keys and driving myself.
Never did I think I would find patience when I was in active labor. We got to the hospital just after 6am. Fortunately, we live very close to the hospital.
“Hi, I think I am in labor”
“Oh so you are here for a labor check?”, she said. “Sure.”, I replied (as I held back every instinct to slap her face at that moment). They took me into the triage area and had me change into a gown.
At this point, the pains were so intense I could not keep quiet. “I am going to start your triage, but I’ll wait for the next shift nurse to check you for dilation”. The next shift nurse came in at seven, so this nurse who wanted to leave promptly as her shift ended was hoping to pass the buck.
What Labor Feels Like
At this point, I start seeing red.
The pains are so horrific I consider the possibility that I must be dying. When they finally checked me I was 4.5cm dilated, and they said okay we will get you over to the delivery room.
“I’m going to throw up! I’m going to poop!”
That is the best representation of my active labor I can offer. Those are the sentences I repeated over and over. Followed by “I can’t do this!”.
Standing naked they urge me to put the gown on and we will walk over to the delivery area. I don’t need a gown. I don’t care. Where do we go? Nurse: “Tazia, we have to walk through the lobby”.
I think they missed my point. Being naked was the least of my concerns feeling like I was looking death in the eye, but realizing I was delaying the inevitable I put the gown on and over we walked.
“Do you want an epidural?”
For the love of God, YES! “The anesthesiologist can either come now or after his surgery at 9:30am.” Now, come now!
I had nitrous oxide in the interim, but this was like trying to put a Band-Aid on your amputated leg and walking it off.
Finally, I got the epidural.
I’m honestly not even sure what time it was at this point. But I suddenly felt like I had narrowly escaped death.
Getting an epidural for some people sounds really scary. A needle in my back? But honestly, mama, it’s not as scary as it sounds.
It was the biggest relief for me. And a few short hours later, my daughter was born!
This was my take on labor pain and delivery.
Now, I can honestly say without a doubt that labor is the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. Being a nurse, however, I could still only give it a 9/10 when they asked me.
I still had the reason in the back of my mind that 10/10 pain needs to be reserved for your body is set on fire while someone is gouging your eyes out kind of pain. Regardless, the kind of pain you experience during labor is awful.
Actually, awful is an understatement. I just don’t think Webster has a word suitable to describe it.
You may be debating between getting an epidural and going “natural” during labor and delivery. So was I.
There are many “things” you can read about the horrors of an epidural. My best advice, don’t read them. Or at least read articles that are well based, meaning peer reviewed scientific articles.
My opinion? Do what you can. Labor for as long as you can. You are definitely not a quitter if you choose to get an epidural. I labored for approximately 6-7 hours before getting the epidural and delivered approximately 4 hours after it.
Everyone has a different labor experience, and that is the most relevant thing I could tell you. Our bodies were made to do this. You will get through it (even though you won’t think that’s the case in the midst of it all).