How Does Birth Pain Happen? How Do Labor Pains Begin?

Every birth is unique. While some births take place in a period of up to 15-16 hours, some births can start and end in a very short time. Vaginal birth is popularly known as normal birth. Normal birth is the process of the baby completing its development in the mother’s womb, entering the birth canal and being born in 40 weeks. Normal birth is a natural process that begins and ends spontaneously when the baby is approximately 40 weeks old in the womb.

What is Labor Pain?

Birth begins with the contraction of the mother’s uterine muscles through hormones. These contractions are popularly known as labor pains. Pain during pregnancy varies depending on the physiological structure of the mother and whether she has given birth before. Birth pain is also a phenomenon that varies from birth to birth. The birth process consists of three main stages:

Stage 1: Uterine Contractions and Cervical Opening

Stage 2: Birth of the Baby

Stage 3: Arrival of the Placenta (Baby’s Partner)

The first stage of labor can be considered to consist of two main phases. The first phase is the early labor phase, when the cervix begins to open and this dilation reaches 4 cm. The phase in which the baby enters the birth canal through the opened cervix and birth occurs is the active labor phase. The second stage of labor is the period from the moment the baby is born until the placenta arrives. The arrival of the placenta usually occurs within half an hour. The placenta separates from the uterus and is expelled. During this process, contractions in the uterus continue, but these contractions are not as severe as labor pains. The third stage of labor begins with the arrival of the placenta and covers the following few hours. This period, called post-partum, also includes the recovery period. During this period, the uterus is in the recovery process and mild uterine contractions are observed.

So, how do pregnancy pains begin? How to distinguish between false labor pains and real labor pains? What are the symptoms of labor pain? How long does labor pain last? 

Labor pains are uterine contractions that occur in order for the baby to enter the birth canal from the mother’s uterus and be born healthy. Labor pain causes the uterine muscles to contract and relax for a certain period of time and intensity, allowing the baby’s head to enter the birth canal. The duration of pain varies depending on the stage of birth. Pregnancy pain usually occurs spontaneously during the 40th week of pregnancy and vaginal birth begins. So, how do pregnancy pains begin? Labor pains, which are infrequent and short in the early stages of labor, become more frequent and severe as labor progresses. In pregnant women who have never given birth before, the duration of labor pains is long during the first birth, while this period becomes shorter in the second and subsequent births.

How Do Labor Pains Begin?

Labor pains are different from menstrual pains that occur during menstruation . Labor pain is characterized by the uterus contracting and relaxing like a fist. Initially, these contractions are irregular and come at long intervals. These contractions, which occur in the early stages of labor, are necessary for the cervix to open and the baby’s head to enter the birth canal. So when do labor pains start?

Early labor pain may last a few hours or a few days. This period may vary from birth to birth. Labor pains usually begin spontaneously between the 38th and 42nd weeks of pregnancy. In the early stages, labor pain comes every 15 to 20 minutes and lasts about 30 to 45 seconds. The contractions become more frequent and may last up to 1 minute. Pains indicate regular uterine contraction and are an indication that labor has begun. While the onset and duration of pain are longer in the first birth, this period is relatively shorter in the second and subsequent births.

When labor pain begins, there are some activities that can be done to relieve these pains and the pain caused by labor. These activities ensure a comfortable birth process. In this way, it helps to have a positive birth experience. Some of the activities that can be done to relieve labor pain include:

  • Go for a brisk walk
  • doing breathing exercises
  • take a warm shower
  • Keeping the body in a comfortable position
  • Listening to relaxing music.

What are the symptoms of labor pain?

There are multiple indicators that indicate the beginning of labor. The breaking of the engagement ceremony, the breaking of the water, and the positioning of the baby down from the mother’s womb are just a few of them. Engagement during labor contractions indicates that labor is close to starting. Birth may begin shortly after the engagement, or it may take a few days. The flow of amniotic fluid containing the baby from the vagina is one of the indicators that labor has begun.

The arrival of this fluid is colloquially defined as ‘the breaking of water’. It is anticipated that labor will begin within 24 hours after the water breaks and the doctor should be informed. However, contrary to popular belief, most normal births do not begin with the breaking of water. Births usually begin with labor pains between the 38th and 42nd weeks of pregnancy. So, what is the frequency of labor pain?

Labor pain occurs when the uterus contracts like a fist and then relaxes. Regular contractions are among the symptoms of pain. It is different from menstrual pain. In the early stages of labor, contractions may occur briefly every 15-20 minutes. During this period, labor pains can be experienced at home and the pains are expected to become more frequent. As time goes by, the interval between the pains becomes shorter and more frequent. During the active labor phase, labor pains occur approximately every 5 minutes. Its intensity and duration also increase. During this phase, the pain may last up to 1 minute. When the frequency of labor pains decreases to 5 minutes, you should go to the center where the birth will take place. The frequency of contractions during labor is between 2 and 3 minutes, and the duration of contractions can reach 1.5 minutes.

Not every contraction in the uterus may be a labor pain. False labor pain, called Braxton Hicks, can be confused with real labor pain. False labor pain occurs depending on the position, and the pain decreases when the pregnant woman changes her position. Real labor pains occur when the uterine muscles contract, regardless of position.

It is possible to distinguish false labor pain from real pain in several ways. While false labor pains are usually felt in the lower abdomen, real labor pains cause pain in the back. False labor is irregular, does not become increasingly severe, and ends when the pregnant woman moves to a different position. Real labor pains are contractions that occur at regular intervals, gradually increasing in intensity and duration. Even if the pregnant woman changes her position, the actual labor pain does not disappear. Birth is only possible with real labor pain.

How Does Birth Pain Happen?

Labor pain occurs when the uterine muscles contract and relax. The purpose of these contractions is to push the baby towards the cervix and allow the baby to enter the birth canal. There are some pregnancy hormones that enable labor pains to occur and birth to occur. Oxytocin is the most important of these hormones. Oxytocin causes uterine contractions and causes labor to begin. Labor pain is quite different from other pains that occur in the uterus and abdominal area. Labor pain usually causes pain in the lower back. It starts infrequently and for a short time, becomes more frequent, longer in duration and worsens at regular intervals.

How to Understand Birth Pain?

Labor pain is different from menstrual or other back and hip pain. Birth pains are caused by pain rather than where it is; Duration, frequency and severity of pain are important. These factors vary depending on the stage of birth. Labor pain begins with short contractions in the uterus that occur every 15-20 minutes. It does not cause irregular pain like menstrual pain.

Birth pains are expected to become more frequent and severe over time. The duration of contractions may vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, although they become more frequent and severe. Early labor pains may begin a few days before birth. What is important here is that the pains become increasingly severe and frequent.

If your labor pains have started to occur every 5 minutes in the last hour and the contractions last for at least 1 minute, this indicates that labor is approaching. In such a case, the doctor should be informed and the patient should head towards the center where the birth will take place. As your birth approaches, do not forget to get information from your doctor about what to do and ask any questions you have.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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