Labor: Introduction (Nursing)

by Jacquelyn McMillian-Bohler

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    00:01 Welcome to the stages and phases of labor.

    00:04 One of the keys to really understanding the whole process of labor is knowing how it begins.

    00:10 So we first want to look at, what are the triggers for the onset of labor? There are several, let's look at four of them.

    00:17 The first one is uterine distension.

    00:19 As the fetus grows, it actually sends a signal to let the body know that it's time for labor to start.

    00:26 There are also hormones that are produced by the fetus, that may send a message that the baby is ready, and it's time for labor to begin.

    00:34 The next one has to do with the estrogen and prostaglandins.

    00:38 These are two hormones that are secreted and if you'll remember the prostaglandins in the menstrual cycle lecture, they lead to uterine contractions.

    00:46 They do the same thing here.

    00:48 And finally, a decrease in the level of progesterone.

    00:51 Progesterone is also one of those hormones you might remember from the menstrual cycle.

    00:55 And as hormone levels go down in progesterone, then we begin to have contractions.

    01:00 So these are four triggers.

    01:03 The next thing we want to think about in terms of labor is recognizing true versus false labor.

    01:09 So everybody that's in labor who, or who thinks they might be in labor, that might not actually be the case.

    01:15 So how can the nurse recognize those signs and symptoms? If someone is really in labor, then they may have regular contractions.

    01:23 So they're not going to have contractions that are 3 minutes, and then 5 minutes, and then 10 minutes, They're going to come every 3 minutes, or every 5 minutes, that's a sign.

    01:35 they also find that over time, the contractions get stronger.

    01:39 So as more time begins to progress, the contractions are not going to get less strong, they're going to be more and more uncomfortable.

    01:47 Also thinking about the location of the pain that they may be experiencing.

    01:51 So the patient may find that the pain starts from the back, and then it wraps around like a great big hug to the front of the lower part of the abdomen.

    01:59 And finally, the patient may experience bloody discharge, we also call this 'bloody show', and that results from the capillaries that burst around the cervix as the cervix begins to dilate.

    02:10 So these are signs of true labor.

    02:12 What are some signs of false labor? Well, if regular contractions are a sign of true labor, irregular contractions are a sign of false labor.

    02:21 Contractions, if they slow down with position changes, so if the patient is walking, and then they sit down, and the contraction slow down, then that's consistent with false labor.

    02:31 And also, if there's only discomfort in the front part of the abdomen, then usually that's not a sign of labor.

    02:38 Now, the ultimate sign out of all of this is that we have cervical change.

    02:42 So the true definition of someone being in labor is that the cervix makes a change.

    02:48 Without cervical change, no matter what happens with the other signs and symptoms, it's not really labor.

    02:55 Now I want to give you a rule.

    02:56 So we have 911 for most of us if we want to call emergency services, the rule for labor is called the '511 rule'.

    03:04 And what that means is that contractions will be five minutes apart, they will be 5 minutes apart, and then they will last at least 1 minute.

    03:13 they will be 5 minutes apart, last at least 1 minute, and that pattern will be consistent for at least 1 hour.

    03:20 So that's the 511 rule of labor.

    03:24 So now I have a case, so let's see if we can work through what we've done so far, to see if we're starting to put these pieces together.

    03:30 So we're going to learn about Grace and what we're going to look for are the indications that Grace might actually be in labor.

    03:37 Grace is a 26 year old Gravida 1 Para 0, G1P0, who presents at 38 weeks to labor triage.

    03:47 She reports that she has back pain that radiates to the front and comes and goes every 15 minutes for the last 4 hours.

    03:56 She's tried walking, she's had some water, but she just really can't seem to get comfortable.

    04:02 The pain started off as mild, and now it's becoming more uncomfortable, and it's more pronounced in the lower part of her abdomen.

    04:09 Grace has also noticed a very small amount of pink-colored discharge when she wipes after going to the bathroom.

    04:16 So read through this case study again and see if you can think about what are the signs that the nurse may have picked up on to let them know that Grace is in labor.

    04:30 Got it? Let's test it.

    04:32 Back pain that radiates to the front, check! And it comes and goes every 15 minutes.

    04:39 That seems to signal that there's some regularity to the contractions, check! It's been going on for at least four hours, check! The patient has tried walking and drinking a glass of water but can't seem to get comfortable.

    04:53 This implies that the contractions are likely getting stronger.

    04:57 Definitely not getting less strong, so check on that one too.

    05:00 Now Grace is becoming more uncomfortable, and the pain is in the lower part of the abdomen.

    05:06 And we have pink color discharge when grace wipes after going to the bathroom.

    05:11 So these are all indications that if Grace were to call and talk to the nurse, might be a sign, it's labor and it's time to maybe make their way to the hospital.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Labor: Introduction (Nursing) by Jacquelyn McMillian-Bohler is from the course Stages of Labor (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Regular contractions
    2. Contractions that get stronger over time
    3. Cervical change
    4. Clear discharge
    5. Pain in the front of the abdomen
    1. Contractions occur 5 minutes apart, last for at least 1 minute, and last at least 1 hour
    2. Contractions occur 5 times, last for at least 1 minute, and over 1 hour
    3. Contractions occur 5 minutes apart and the cervix dilates 1 cm over 1 hour
    4. Contractions occur 5 times, 1 minute apart, in a 1 hour time period
    1. Uterine distention
    2. Cervical softening
    3. Decreased estrogen and prostaglandins
    4. Increased progesterone

    Author of lecture Labor: Introduction (Nursing)

     Jacquelyn McMillian-Bohler

    Jacquelyn McMillian-Bohler

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