|Throughout the earlier months of your pregnancy, delivery may well have been an abstract thought but as the time approaches there are real choices to make and the impending birth has a way of confronting you suddenly! There are many things to think about-much advice is given, but ultimately you have to decide-with your care-givers, whether your preference is for a “natural vaginal delivery” with minimal intervention, or whether pain relief and close monitoring of the baby are your major concerns; if you have the choice whether Caesarean is your preferred option-or indeed if you want a home delivery.
- Getting ready for the birth
What do I need to take with me? When do I need to go into hospital or call a doctor or midwife? We explain all these worries.
- A hospital birth
Most babies are born in hospital; not the most natural of surroundings but all staff are at hand if needed, and there are usually wide options for pain relief and help at hand when baby is born.
- A home birth
If your pregnancy has gone to plan, and especially if you’ve had a normal vaginal birth before, giving birth at home with a midwife can be a very positive experience-you’re in familiar surroundings, and know who’s looking after you..
- Your options in childbirth
Caesarean or normal delivery? Epidural or not? Avoiding drugs or asking for everything on the trolley? You should be in charge, but you need good information.
- The first signs of labour
How to know when labour is staring, and what to do then.
- In the hospital
What they’ll do, what to expect in terms of monitoring and being examined.
- The first stage of labour
This starts with your womb contracting and the cervix progressively opening, and ends when the cervix is “fully dilated”, ready for baby’s birth; it often takes many hours.
- The second stage of labour
The baby makes its way down the birth canal and is born-the second stage can take from 10 minutes to 3 hours!
- The third stage of labour
Once baby’s born, the placenta comes away from the womb together with the membranes.
- Now the baby's born!
You’re exhausted but delighted, you need some sleep but baby needs feeding!
- What can go wrong
Labour and the birth are often natural processes, but they don’t always go to plan-and you may need professional assistance for your and baby’s health.
- An assisted delivery
If you’re too exhausted for those final pushes, or the baby’s head has turned the wrong way or baby needs delivering quickly, then doctors can help the birth using forceps or Ventouse.
- Cesarean delivery
Caesareans are much commoner now than 10 or 20 years ago. Not only the province of celebrity mums, they may be required for good medical reasons either before or in labour.
- A breech birth
3% of babies are ‘bottom down’ instead of ‘head down’ at delivery; this has implications for the birth.
- Twins, triplets and multiple births
Twin and triplets have their own unique issues when it comes to delivery; many are born early and by Caesarean but this doesn’t mean a vaginal birth isn’t possible.