Why is labour painful?

There are a number of different reasons why labour is painful; the main cause of pain is the contractions of the uterus but other sources of pain include pressure on the cervix, pressure on the bladder and the birth canal being stretched. Pain during labour affects everyone differently but many women suffer from back pain, tiredness, cramps in the abdomen and pain down the sides of the body.

Labour is different for every woman; some experience very mild cramps, while others experience chronic pain and others have very strong, powerful cramps. Some people suffer terrible backache, while others feel just mild discomfort.

For some women, the pain of delivery is very intense; if the labour is difficult or the baby is larger, there may be difficulties delivering the baby and the skin may stretch too far and tear; tearing is relatively common but it can cause severe pain. Deep tears will be stitched up immediately, while smaller tears will be left to heal naturally over the course of time.

Women who have had more than one child say that the pain is more severe during the first birth than subsequent births.

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