on with it
happens during labour and birth?
For the last 40 weeks (give or take a week or two), everything has been building up to the labour. Being as informed as possible before you go into labour will hopefully make the whole experience less daunting.
Some of the signs and symptoms of going into labour may include: period-like cramps, backache, diarrhoea, a small bloodstained discharge as your cervix thins and the mucus plug drops out, a gush or trickle of water as the membranes break, and contractions.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are sometimes mistaken for labour.
These 'false' contractions usually start halfway through the pregnancy and continue for the duration.
The difference between these contractions and the real thing is that Braxton-Hicks contractions are irregular, tend to go away after a period of time and are not painful.
This will depend on:
Remember ‘pre-labour’ can last 24-48 hours before your labour is established.
Labour is divided into three stages.
The first stage of labour is concerned with the thinning of the cervix and its dilation to around 10cm. This stage is usually the longest part of labour. The cervix can thin out over weeks, days or hours and be accompanied by mild contractions. The contractions may be regularly or irregularly spaced, or else you might not even notice them at all.
To maintain energy during this stage it is best to eat easily digested food, glucose sweets and drink fluids such as apple juice or water. Water and heat can be very soothing at this time, so you may want to consider having a warm bath or shower or using heat packs.
Once your cervix has dilated to 10cm, you are officially in second stage of labour. More than likely, you will also feel an intense urge to push. Your contractions will have changed markedly. Although they become less frequent, they are much more severe, as they are designed to push your baby down and out, and you are now working with your uterus to actually push your baby through the birth canal. Your abdominal muscles contract, along with your diaphragm, to create one big, bodily effort. The second stage of labour requires a lot of effort, it is generally a lot shorter, lasting between 30 to 90 minutes for a first baby, and sometimes only a few minutes for second or subsequent babies.
You may feel an urge to push down at this time. It is important to conserve your energy between contractions. Keeping an upright position will assist your baby to move down the birth canal. You can kneel upright on the floor or bed. Pillows can be used for support. Some women may chose to lie on their left side or squat during contractions. Each woman will find the position that is right for her.
This stage lasts from the baby’s delivery to the delivery of the placenta and usually goes for a few minutes if medication is given or a little longer if you don’t have medication after your baby is born.
The progressing dilation of the cervix during the stages of labour
A ceasarian section may be either:
Your healthcare team will discuss the procedure in detail with you.
A water birth may be possible at some hospitals. If this is your choice it is important that you discuss this with your midwife and become well informed about this option.