Preparation Exercises

Emotions During Labor

Women report feeling everything from a pleasurable birth to an excruciating birth. No one can tell you what labor is going to feel like to you. This is partially because no one can tell you how fast or slow or difficult your labor is going to be. It is also partially because no one can tell you how you are going to react to the experiences you are having in labor.

To learn more about how you may respond to labor emotionally, read the following scenarios, imagining they are happening to you, then answer these questions:

  • How do you feel about what is happening?
  • How does your body respond?
  • If your response is unproductive, what can you do to continue to work with your body?


  1. I have been having contractions on and off for a week now. Sometimes they are as close as 8 minutes apart and I think “this must be it” but they always seem to stop within a few hours.
  2. I have been in labor for 12 hours now. It has been back labor for about 8 hours, but the contractions got really painful three hours ago.
  3. We’ve been in the hospital for about 4 hours, and contractions have gone from 5 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart. But at the last vaginal exam I was at 6 (the same as when we arrived at the hospital).
  4. Labor started around midnight, and now it is 8:30 am. I am tired and working very hard.
  5. I have been handling late first stage contractions well, but now I feel a sharp pain near my pelvis with each contraction.
  6. My due date came and went 9 days ago.
  7. I didn’t seem to have a transition, and suddenly began having a strong urge to push. You get me in the car, and call the hospital as you drive.
  8. As the next contraction begins you see me take my three deep breaths, hold it for a few seconds and let go to take another breath.
  9. I’ve been pushing according to my body’s urges for about an hour and a half, but the baby seems slow to come.

Review Your Work

  • Consider what you can do now to help prepare for labor emotionally.
  • What possibilities produce the most fear or stress for you?
  • What can you do to help prevent those possibilities?
  • What can you do now to be prepared in case your labor does follow a course you fear?
Jennifer (Author)