The Truth about Labour Pains and Ways to Manage It

Many women approach their impending labour with mixed feelings. As their due dates draw closer, excitement in anticipation of a newborn’s arrival is eclipsed by the nagging fear of labour pains. If you are a first-time mother, can you identify with this feeling? To set your mind at ease and to prepare you for that special day, we shall discuss labour pains and how you can overcome it.

What is labour pain like?

Managing labour pain is every bit about the physical pain you experience as it is about your expectation going into labour. Frankly, no two mothers will have the same experience, nor do they want to think that their encounters are similar, just like each baby is obviously unique.

In many instances, mothers mistake initial labour contractions for Braxton Hicks contractions or false contractions. And it is not until an hour or so later when contraction intensifies before a mother rushes herself to the hospital. Others have more obvious signs that they are in labour when their water break and pain begins to set in. And then there are mothers who have induced labour. This group of mothers is definitely more mentally prepared to cope with the pain when it sets in.

Most mothers liken initial labour pain to an intense menstrual cramp. It comes on gradually and builds up over time. Eventually, it manifests as a half-stabbing, half-twisting pain that subsides briefly before intensifying again. This pain comes in waves and can persist for hours until they give the final push that brings the newborn into the world.

The degree of pain varies. It depends on the intensity of contractions, the baby’s size and position, as well as the duration of labour. Obviously, every labour experience is different because every mother has a different threshold for pain. Depending on how well you cope with pain, you might want to look into different ways to manage labour pains.

Ways to cope with labour pains

1. Medical pain relief

Epidural is a life-saver of sort to women who have low pain thresholds. Because it is a regional anesthesia that causes temporary loss of sensation to selected areas, it completely reduces labour pains. Should the pain become too severe for some, a combined spinal epidural analgesia (CSE) can be administered. This is an additional injection in the spinal area for quicker pain relief. For a less invasive approach, mothers can turn to a drug called Etonox or “laughing gas”. Prior to a contraction, you will need to take deep breaths from a mask to experience temporary and moderate pain relief.

2. Breathing exercises

Try breathing slowly and rhythmically when a contraction hits. Concentrate on breathing through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Doing so maximises the amount of oxygen available to your baby and you and ease the process somewhat.

3. Changing positions

Keep mobile during labour. You can curl your body, stand, sway or walk as the labour progresses. One of the benefits of being upright is that you use gravity as the basis to move your baby down to shorten the duration of labour.

4. Water therapy

Warm water helps relieve pain and soothes anxiety. Being in warm water during labour can be comforting and therapeutic for anxious mothers as it relaxes tensed muscles. This approach is often accompanied with a doula who lends emotional support by the side.

5. Massage

Having someone massage your back is not just a physical boost, but an emotional one as well. Having a back rub in particular can help to ease pain as it induces your body to release its natural painkillers.

6. Music and Visualisation

Listen to soothing classical music to calm your nerves. Couple this with visualisation techniques to take your focus away from the pain.


Even though pre-labour jittery is normal, try to do what is within your means to calm your nerves. This means getting things in order in the weeks or even months leading to labour. Prepare yourself mentally to go into labour, but also learn to relax and allow nature to run its course. This will set you in a more relaxed state to receive your newborn.

Enter into labour knowing that mother and child are well covered for extra peace of mind. Request for a free consultation now.

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