Silent Labor Is Not Common
One of the few aspects that women are not looking forward to with pregnancy is that for the journey to be over, for many, that means contractions are going to have to be dealt with. It is something that mothers-to-be either breathe through after making the decision to have an unmedicated birth or get to the point where the pain becomes unbearable and an epidural is requested.
But what if there was no pain when women went into labor? Would they even know if their babies were on the way if there were no excruciating contractions being felt? This is a phenomenon that some women experience called silent labor. And because it is so rare, there still is no true understanding of why it happens.
Be it because women believe that labor will be painful or the fact that contractions are truly debilitating, most women who have had babies can attest that there is at least some pain associated with giving birth. Depending on the pain threshold that women the longer they will be able to make it before they need an epidural if they need one at all. But it is not often heard that women feel no pain during their labor and delivery. Something that just about any woman would love to experience as the time comes to welcome their babies into the world.
Here is how common silent labor is.
What Is Silent Labor?
Not to be confused with a silent birth that has gotten so much attention from the Church of Scientology, silent labor is when women do not know that they are in labor. According to Health, this is because the contractions that some women have do not register as being painful. And as a result, can be surprised that they are as far along in labor as they are, given that there are not any clear-cut signs that a baby is going to be delivered in the near future.
As women get closer to their due dates, paying attention to signs that the body is changing is a surefire way to recognize that labor will be starting soon. Some of those labor signs, according to the NHS, include:
- Mucus plug detaches
- Desire to use the restroom
- Baby begins to move less than normal when around the due date
If there are no contractions present, but other signs are, it may be possible that women are experiencing silent labor. It is something that can only be determined with the help of a doctor after being hooked up to a Toco monitor to see if and when contractions are occurring.
How Common Is Silent Labor?
For those women who think going through labor without contractions sounds like heaven, not feeling contractions is not a common thing for pregnant women to experience. As such, women should anticipate feeling contractions grow in strength the more dilated they become.
According to Evidence Based Birth, one in 100 women is likely to not feel pain during labor. Why this happens is not known. And just because it occurred for one pregnancy does not mean it is going to happen for any subsequent ones.
Therefore, if labor does not produce any pain with contractions, embrace it. But do not expect it when it comes time to bring babies into the world.
What Silent Labor Feels Like
It varies as far as what women will feel or not when they are experiencing silent labor. This is why if anything begins to feel out of place for the pregnancy as the due date nears, it should be monitored in case silent labor is occurring.
According to Mum’s Grapevine, silent labor can feel like a “tightening.” There can also be no indication whatsoever that contractions are happening. But the body is doing its job to move the baby from the uterus to the birth canal. Just in a fashion where the brain does not register pain.
Precipitate Labor Versus Silent Labor
The terms precipitate labor and silent labor are sometimes used to express the same thing. But they are two very different types of labor with some commonalities between them.
According to BabyCentre, precipitate labor occurs when women have a quick labor window. This means that from the start of the first contractions felt to the time that babies are born, the whole process takes three hours or less. This is because, during the first stage of labor, contractions are not felt, per the publication. But as labor progresses, they become more intense. And that is why babies seem to be born in such a short period of time, even though the body has potentially been laboring for quite some time.
Precipitate labor happens in about two percent of pregnant women, per the publication.
To compare, silent labor is where no pain is felt from the beginning to the end of labor. Making the two types of labor similar but very different at the same time.