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Labour birth

Childbirth labour

Nine months of weird cravings, swollen breasts, squished lungs and no waistline leads up to the inevitable climatic point of pregnancy; labour. There are many rumours, myths and old wives tales suggesting that women who are due feel unsettled, and perhaps even unprepared for labour and childbirth.

Knowing what happens during labour and delivery can help relieve many feelings of fear and/or anxiety. Huggies has collected the following information, hints and tips to help prepare you for what is going to be one of the most momentous events in your life.

Preparing for labour

Your big day is looming and it’s most likely going to be a roller coaster ride – scary and exciting all at the same time. One of the best ways you can ensure your labour is successful is preparation. You need to decide on several things in regard to your labour, including whether you will have a home birth or a birth in a hospital. Many hospitals give you a choice of going into a labour ward or a birthing centre. Birthing centres are usually for normal births requiring no intervention and where the mother doesn’t want an epidural. Some have baths for water births.

If you do have a home birth, you will need to arrange a midwife. You may go into labour before or after your due date so it’s a good idea to start preparing a few months before your due date. You should get a hospital bag ready; this bag should be prepped way ahead of time. Some hospitals are a little particular about what’s allowed into the hospital so it might be a good idea to check beforehand.

You should also ensure you have a car seat fitted for your little one’s journey home as well as nappies and baby clothes so your baby is comfortable and warm. It is a great idea to do a labour test run, where you get everything together and make a trip to the hospital. Many women are unsure about when labour actually starts, there are a couple of warning signs that signal the imminent onset of labour, but these signs can differ between women. Check out these signs and indicators in the signs of labour page so you are aware of what to look for. You should also understand that there are some different indicators for a premature birth, all these signs and symptoms are covered in Premature Birth: Signs and treatment of pre-term labour.

Labour can last for many hours, and if you are relaxed about it, you should try to stay at home for as long as possible. If your contractions are arriving with 5 minutes intervals or less, if your water breaks, or you are bleeding, then it’s time to make your way to the hospital. If you feel you cannot manage your pain at home any more or if you are worried about anything, then it’s also time to go to the hospital. You should also have a reliable birth partner available to help you through the labour process. Here are the qualities and responsibilities that you should look for in a birth partner.

Stages of labour

There are three distinct stages of labour, all with their own unique qualities and characteristics. Your first stage of labour is characterised by dilation of your cervix brought on by contractions. Your contractions will change from a dull cramp feeling into rhythmically occurring pain that comes at regular intervals. Due to this your cervix will become softer and stretchier. Try to relax as much as possible and settle into a position that is comfortable for you. Make sure you go to the toilet and empty your bladder frequently.

The second stage of labour is when your cervix is fully dilated, you push your baby down the birth canal and this stage ends with the birth. It helps to get into an upright position so that gravity can help the birth process. Don’t forget to breathe either! If you have had an epidural and can’t feel your contractions or your baby being born, listen carefully for instructions from your doctor or midwife.

Did you know that you are still in labour even after your baby is born? This is known as the third stage of labour. Your contractions might stop for a bit, but will start again so that the placenta can be delivered (although they won’t be anywhere near as intense as your contractions from the first two stages). It is common for mothers to be given an injection to help their uterus contract once the baby is born. This helps to expel the placenta and control excess bleeding. After you have ‘delivered’ the placenta, your midwife or doctor will check that everything is ok. Huggies has more detailed information on each stage of labour, so explore and get all the information to put your mind at ease.

For more information see Childbirth.

Some other fantastic Huggies resources on labour include: