Labor is the name given to the childbirth process during which the women’s
body undergoes changes readying it to deliver a baby and placenta from the
A woman’s body prepares itself for labor and delivery exhibiting certain signs A woman is in active labor when she feels frequent and regular contractions. One method utilized to ascertain whether a woman is in active labor is the 411 method: Consistent uterine contractions that are four minutes apart, each lasting one minute, for at least one hour.
Certain signs alert the woman that her labor is imminent:
Lightening – When the baby drops into the pelvis – in the first pregnancy it may happen 2-4 weeks prior to labor and when active labor begins in subsequent pregnancies. This will result in the abdomen appearing to be lower than before.
The lower position of the fetus produces different results. On the one hand breathing becomes easier, and heartburn is relieved. However, pressure on the back is increased, urination is more frequent and walking becomes more difficult.
Vaginal secretions are increased to prepare the birth canal for the delivery of the baby.
False labor or Braxton Hicks contractions increase. These contractions are not painful but are often confused with real labor due to their intensity.
The woman may suddenly feel a burst of energy, with a strong desire to clean and prepare for the baby. This is termed the “nesting instinct” and usually occurs about 24-48 hours before active labor.
Some women “break their water” meaning the amniotic sac breaks and the fluid inside of it either gushes out or trickles out. Once the water breaks, if labor does not begin many practitioners recommend inducing labor to prevent the risk of infection.
The average labor last approximately 12-14 hours for a first baby but on average of 8 hours for subsequent births.
In the United States about 60-90% of women receive epidural analgesia (depending on hospital) and about 25% of English women receive it as well.
Clinical trials have shown that a woman greatly benefits from the support of a doula – a woman that is trained to assist the woman in labor. Results have shown decreased number of cesarean sections, less need for pain relief and a shorter labor period.
There are 2 categories of conventional labor pain relief. The first and most widely used is regional blocks and the second is opoid analgesics. Regional blocks include such interventions as epidurals, spinals or a combination of both. These blocks are aimed at relieving the pain at it source, stopping the pain signals traveling up the spinal cord to the uterus. The opoid analgesics are injected into the muscle or via IV and act on the brain’s capacity to perceive the pain.
Alternative methods to relieve labor pains include among others: Special breathing and relaxation exercises most notably the Lamaze Method; Aromatherapy; Acupressure; Massage; Hypnotherapy; Doula support and Acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese medical theory posits that surgery and labor interrupt the Qi or energy flow through the meridian pathways, disrupting the body’s harmony; this in turn causes the pain and discomfort. Positioning acupuncture needles on specific points on the meridian pathways guides and balances the flow of Qi, correcting the disharmony.
A clinical study conducted on women experiencing both back and pelvic pain with labor, found that about 60% of those who had receive acupuncture treatment reported a significant decrease in the intensity of pain. Only 14% did not report any change. In addition, this study found that the pregnant women did not experience any complications with the use of acupuncture.
A similar study of pregnant women during labor demonstrated that the women who received acupuncture had considerably less need for pain relieving interventions such as epidural anesthesia or TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation) than those who received standard obstetric care. While another study that compared acupuncture to placebo, found that women receiving acupuncture perceived pain a lot less than those in the control group. In fact the number of requests for epidural and other medical analgesia was by far less in the acupuncture group than the placebo group.
Dr. Elisha expertly utilizes acupuncture as a safe and effective method for relief of labor pain. Let Dr Elisha alleviate your discomfort, and help you relax and gently guide you towards a healthy labor and delivery.
Call Dr. Elisha at the Healing Center today, and start feeling good and young again!