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Stages of Labour

The mom goes to the hospital and puts pyjamas on and then she waits in her bedroom for the doctor to fetch the baby from a special place. But it’s really boring because Gran and my brother and I had to wait, like 20 hundred hours, for my baby sister to find the hospital!
Braedan 5 years old 

By the end of your 8th month of pregnancy you are no doubt tired of being pregnant. You’re anxiously awaiting your baby’s birth so that you can finally meet the little person you’ve been carrying for so long (and let’s admit it, you want your body back).

But with the excitement of every twinge, ache or tickle in the belly, comes a sense of fear. What does labour feel like? How long will it last. Will you cope without drugs?

Don’t be a hero. If you need an epidural, have one and always have an open mind about the fact that your birth plan may not go the way you want it to. The most important thing during labour is to have a healthy baby and mom at the end of the day and if that means having a caesarean, then so be it

First Stage

Early labour is different for every woman and involves a series of symptoms.
You will probably start off with lower back pain accompanied by menstrual-like cramps. You’ll also start noticing contractions that stretch across your belly and are slightly more intense than the Braxton-hicks contractions experienced over the last few months.

Early signs of labour include a bloody show. The mucous plug, which covers the cervix will start releasing a mucous-like, brownish-red discharge.

In most movie’s or TV shows, there’s generally a very dramatic scene in which the woman’s waters break and she’s raced off to hospital at break-neck speeds. Not all women experience a sudden gush of water down their legs. Very often labour begins at home or at work, but only when the doctor uses a little needle-like instrument in the labour ward to prick the amniotic sac, will the waters break.

But if you’re not entirely certain that you’re in labour, phone your doctor or midwife. Don’t worry that you’ll be bugging them, because that is after all what they’re paid for. In many cases your doctor will be able to reassure you that all is well. If he believes that labour has in fact started, he’ll recommend that you wait until your contractions are more intense before you go to hospital.

Your contractions will at first, be irregular and will gradually intensify and come more regularly.

Once you’re in hospital and you feel that you may not be able to cope with the pain, now is the time to tell your doctor or midwife that you want drugs. The later you leave it, the less likely you’ll be allowed to get the meds.

Early labour could take a few hours or a few days. It really does depend on your baby.

When your cervix has dilated up to 10cm, you will probably be at the end of your first stage of labour.

Second Stage

From the time that your cervix has dilated fully until your baby is born, is considered to be the second stage of labour.

You’ll know that it’s almost time to start pushing when you feel an intense pressure between your legs. Your doctor or midwife will tell you when it’s safe to bear down and push.

You will probably feel a strong stinging sensation as the baby’s head starts coming through and the doctor or midwife guides the baby out. Make sure that you listen to instructions, as this will help prevent tearing.

If the baby is having a hard time coming out, your doctor may perform an episiotomy. This is a small cut between the vagina and the anus, to prevent any severe tearing.

If you’ve decided not to have pain medication, focus on the end result while breathing through contractions and pushing. Remember all the techniques that you learnt in your antenatal classes and use them.

If you’ve had an epidural, your doctor will tell you when to push as, mercifully, you won’t be able to feel the contractions. It will also be more difficult to push, as you won’t have any sensation in the lower half of your body. Just focus on pushing your feet against the stirrups and push down as if you were doing a number two (who said delivering a baby was glamorous).

Also, prepare for the fact that complete strangers will walk into the room while your bottom half is exposed to the world. Rest assured that they have probably seen hundreds of vjayjay’s in the past and aren’t batting an eyelid at your delicate areas.

The key here is to listen to your doctor, follow what your body is telling you. After what may seem like days of pushing, your baby will slide out of your body and into your arms. The magical era of becoming a mom has now begun.

Third and final stage

Shortly after the delivery, while you’re holding your baby in your arms, your placenta will be delivered. This is usually painless and anyway, you’ll be far too busy gazing at your baby’s face to notice what’s happening.

Your doctor will gently massage your tummy and may give you an injection to speed things along. But if you begin breastfeeding immediately after the birth, the placenta should deliver naturally.

If you’ve torn during delivery, or if the doctor has had to perform an episiotomy, he’ll stitch you up now.

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