What is the mark of beginning labour? There are many forms of labour?
It starts slowly with small contractions, which gradually build up and become more frequent with time.
A rise in vaginal discharge may look like bloody or brownish mucus. This is known as passage of mucus plug or passing of bloody show.
A water bag can burst, which could cause a sensation of wetness down your legs. You can confirm that your water bag is ruptured by visiting the labour ward. Sometimes it could be a false alarm caused by loss of bladder control.
You should prepare your bag and your husband’s hospital bag early so you can make it to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, labor may be initiated rather than naturally started. One example is when your obstetrician determines that the baby should be brought out to be closely monitored by your paediatrician. Your obstetrician will usually place the prostaglandin tablet in your vagina to induce labor.
How to prepare for childbirth?
There are three stages to labour.
- From the first stage, you will experience regular painless contractions that progress to full dilatation (10cm). Regular vaginal exams will be performed by your midwife to check the dilatation of your cervical cervix and chart the progression of labor. As labour progresses, the contractions will become more frequent with an average of one contraction every two to three minutes. If you have not chosen to receive epidural analgesia, you may want to ask for pain relief. See section 2 to learn more about pain relief options.
- This second stage can take anywhere from 30 seconds to two hours. When full dilation of the cervix occurs, your midwife will let you know. This is the active phase of pushing your baby out. Each contraction will require you to push (or bear down) and to follow the instructions of your midwife.
- You will be asked to eat small meals when you are in labor. This is a good sign of energy conservation! Your ability to push your baby out and how you breathe during labor is a key factor. It is better to deepen your breathing and use your diaphragm. Antenatal classes are an important way to learn breathing techniques and prepare for labor.
After the birth of the baby, the third stage of labor involves the painless delivery within minutes of the placenta.
The average length of labor for most pregnancies is 6-12 hours. The labour durations for subsequent pregnancies may vary from 2 to 8 hours. Variations in labour duration can range from short to long depending on factors like the size and position, pelvis sizes, or inadequate contractions. Bottom line: Every woman is unique, so your journey through labour will be different.
Pain relief during labour
You can look into non-medical and medical pain-relieving methods to help you cope with labor pains.
There are some non-medical options:
- Relax so that you don’t become more anxious, which can make the pain worse.
- Breathing exercises can be used to relieve pain
- Your partner can massage you, or help with sore areas.
- You can move around and change your position (e.g. Walking, sitting on a sofa, or leaning onto a solid item,
- Aromatherapy, such as. Aromatherapy (e.g., breathing in lavender and geranium essential oil to relax or orange oils for energy boosts and lifts)
- Keep hydrated with small amounts of water and food, but don’t drink more than you need.
Here are some options for medical pain relief:
Pethidine injections in your thigh are usually administered in the first phase of labor. This is useful for quick labours, and the effects last between 2 and 4 hours
Entonox gas is also known as “laughing gas”, which is a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen that you inhale through an airway. Although it is simple to use, you can adjust the level of sedation. However, its effects may wear off quickly and cause nausea or drowsiness.
An injection of local anaesthetic to your lower back is called epidural anaesthesia. You may ask for laughing gas before your anaesthetist arrives. The epidural will numb the lower body muscles, making it harder to bear down. It is possible to activate your pelvic floor muscles, which can be helpful for antenatal exercises like pilates.
You can request an oxygen mask for delivery to deepen your breathing and ensure that your baby receives enough oxygen. This will reduce the chances of your baby being distressed, especially if labour is prolonged.
The final decision about which type of pain relief you choose is yours?
- Methods for delivering a baby
Different mothers have different birth methods. Some mothers would prefer a spontaneous natural delivery by the mother pushing. Others may choose to use forceps or vacuum extraction. This is sometimes called assisted delivery. It occurs when the mother cannot push the baby completely and needs the assistance of an obstetrician to deliver it fully.
When is it appropriate to have a C-section performed?
What happens if the baby is distressed during labor? To remove the baby as soon as possible, an emergency caesarean would be performed. Parents can request an elective caesarean if they don’t want a natural birth or if their medical history or condition demands one.
Be mentally ready for the possibility that your birth plan will change depending on what happens during labor. Each woman’s journey will be unique and the safety of your baby and you is paramount.