Although every birth story is different, it’s a good idea to have some knowledge of the process before the day arrives.
Although you may not think it, keeping upright for as long as you can will help make labour easier for both you and baby. With the help of gravity, your baby’s head will be pushed onto the cervix and help it to dilate.
You might be comfortable kneeling or using tools like birth balls or mats. If you use an epidural you’ll have to lie flat on the bed as the medicine numbs the body. You will also need a catheter if you get an epidural as the nerves in your bladder will likely be affected. You may need to have an instrumental birth with a forceps or vacuum or a C-section, depending on what’s the best for you and baby alike.
Monitoring Baby’s Heartbeat
The midwife will listen to your baby’s heartbeat at regular intervals with a fetal stethoscope or a Fetal Doppler. If you or baby have risk factors, continuous fetal monitoring may be recommended. Your midwife will also keep an eye on your waters (meconium). Clear meconium is a good sign, while heavily bloody or green fluid may be less reassuring. Don’t worry though, as your midwife will observe carefully and call in more help if needed and keep you informed the whole way through.
Your urge to push will increase as your baby’s head moves down the birth canal. Traditionally women are told to push instinctually, but if you have availed of an epidural it will cancel out the reflexive urge to push. In this case, your midwife will inform you when contractions are coming to assist you. As your baby’s head emerges (crowning), you may be asked to pant or blow which will help avoid tears and hopefully make their birth a gentle one. Your baby will be placed on your chest so you can welcome them into the world.
The First Breath/Meeting Your Child
Baby’s skin will change from pale to pink as they begin to breathe.Your baby may be covered in blood or meconium (if they emptied their bowels in the womb), or a white creamy substance called vernix. They may cry or be very quiet as they adjust to life in the outside world. The natural hormone of love, oxytocin, may not kick in right away, but this is nothing to worry about as a range of feelings is totally normal.
This is known as the third stage of labour and usually takes place 15-30 minutes after your baby is born. Your baby can remain on your chest for this period if you want to give them their first feed. The doctor will place their hand on your abdomen and pull the umbilical cord until the placenta is released and will check if it has been fully delivered. Your medical team will assess whether you need stitches and a local anaesthetic will be administered. After this, they will look at hygiene requirements and you can finally have a cup of tea.
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