FAQ Labour &
will I know when I'm in labour?
is often difficult to know when you are in true labor. Your body
will give you signals, but there is no guarantee that you will
experience them. Here are some signs to watch for:
Do not wait for
your water to break before calling your doctor–for most women this
does not happen until the labor has progressed.
notice any bright red discharge call your doctor immediately!
(bloody show) is normal after 37 weeks, particularly after you
have had a vaginal exam, have had sex, or are in early labor. Call
your doctor if you experience any bleeding that occurs before 37
weeks. This is not normal.
Q. What should I expect when I get to the hospital?
A. When you arrive in the
hospital, you will need to change into a hospital gown and give a
urine sample. The nurse will help you into bed, ask questions
about your health history, and take your temperature, pulse, and
blood pressure. A fetal monitor may be used to listen to your
baby’s heart rate and to record any contractions, which you may be
having. You can see the tracing or recording of your baby’s
heartbeat. You may have a sterile exam with a speculum placed into
the vagina to see if your water has broken. An exam can tell if
your cervix (the opening to your uterus where the baby will come
out) is dilating (opening).
Q. What will happen during labour?
A. During labour, your uterus
(which is made up of muscles) will tighten and relax. This causes
your cervix to open. Once the cervix is fully open (dilate), you
will start to push the baby down through the birth canal.
Your amniotic sac
(bag of water) may break on its own before or during labor.
Sometimes, your doctor may decide to break the bag of water if it
has not broken on its own. This is not any more uncomfortable than
a vaginal exam. The amniotic fluid may feel warm as it leaks out.
Stage: During the
first stage of labor uterine contractions begin. They will be
relatively mild at first and they will increase in intensity and
duration as labor progresses. Usually contractions will become
more frequent after your water breaks. Throughout this stage your
cervix thins (effaces) and opens (dilation) and by the time you
are ready to deliver your baby your cervix will be dilated to 10
centimeters. The typical duration of this stage is 13 hours–if
it's your first child.
During the second stage of labor your
cervix will open sufficiently and your baby begins to move down
the birth canal. At this time you will push the baby through the
birth canal and you'll finally be able to meet your new baby. The
typical duration of this stage is 90 minutes.
Stage–In the third
stage you will deliver the placenta or afterbirth. This usually
happens within 30 minutes after the birth.
Q. How long will my labour last?
A. If it's your first child,
labor will typically last between 12 and 24 hours, with an average
of 14 hours. However, if you've given birth before, labor usually
averages between 6 and 8 hours.
Q. Is there anything I can do to lessen the pain of the
Change positions often
Use relaxation techniques
Have your support person massage
Go to the bathroom every hour or
so. A full bladder hurts and keeps the baby from moving into the
Turn the lights down and listen to
Have your support person give you a
Use cool, moist washcloth on your
face or forehead
Take a warm shower to help you
Q. What if something doesn't go as planned?
A. Be assured, many women give
birth to healthy babies with no complications at all. If
complications do occur, they are many times related to timing and
your doctor or other health care provider knows exactly how to
handle them. Serious problems are relatively rare and often can be
Premature rupture of the membranes
Preterm labor (labor that begins
before the 37th week of pregnancy)
Postterm pregnancy (pregnancy that
continues beyond 42 weeks)
Excessive vaginal bleeding
An abnormal heart rate in the fetus
Labor that progresses too slowly
Abnormal position of the fetus
including breech presentation
If the conditions
indicate that you are not fit to deliver normally, your doctor may
decide to take you for caesarian operation.