Normal Vaginal Delivery
Normal Vaginal birth is the series of coordinated events which the woman undergoes leading to the birth of a healthy child.
How do I know I am in labour?
There are many different symptoms which may indicate the start of labour. You may have
- Period like cramps
- Your tummy may have regular painful tightening’s
- You may lose mucus plug mixed with some blood from your vagina. This is called show.
- You may start leaking watery liquid from your vagina. This may be fluid from the bag of water around the baby. If this happens, you should contact the hospital as you will be asked to come in for a check-up of your baby’s wellbeing. If it is confirmed that you are leaking water from around the baby, then you will be offered an induction of labour within 24 hours depending on your preference.
What are the stages of labour?
Labour is divided into three stages. The first stage of labour involves opening of the cervix from a closed cervix to 10 cm dilatation. At this stage the baby’s head would have descended in the lower vagina and the woman is ready to push. The second stage of labour includes maternal pushing efforts to deliver the baby. Delivery of the baby marks the end of the second stage. The third stage includes delivery of the after births, that is the placenta and the membranes.
How long does latent phase of labour last?
Usually, first labour is longer than subsequent labours. The first stage of labour has a slower latent phase and a quicker active phase. The latent phase can last for few hours to a couple of days. During this time, you are encouraged to stay at home, maintain hydration, remain mobile, practice relaxation techniques, distract yourself by watching television, listening to music. You can hop in the shower to relieve the irregular cramps that you are experiencing.
How long does active first stage of labour last?
Active first stage of labour lasts for 8-10 hours in the first labour and 6-8 hours in subsequent labours. This is associated with regular painful tightening’s.
What are the options for pain relief that I can use in labour?
There are various different pain relief options that you can use during labour.
- You have the option of using nitrous gas which you can use during your labour. It does not have any aftereffects on either you or your baby. It takes the edge of the pains and you have to use it continuously during the labour.
- Morphine injection is an effective injection. It significantly reduces the pain but does not take it away completely. If it is given too close to the birth of the baby, it can cause transient respiratory depression in the newborn. It can also cause some side effects in the mother including altered perception, nausea and respiratory depression.
- Epidural is an injection that goes in the lower back. It numbs the pain and takes it away completely. This is given by an anaesthetist and is associated with some very rare but serious complications. It may sometimes lower the blood pressure and affect baby’s heartbeat pattern. Your baby’s heartbeat will be continuously monitored if you have an epidural.
When would I need forceps or Vacuum for delivery?
- Use of forceps or vacuum may be occasionally needed to safely deliver your baby in an event of concern with your baby’s heartbeat pattern in second stage of labour/long second stage/prolonged pushing is not advised for your health problems.
- You still have to push; this is just an assistance your pushing efforts
- The vacuum uses a soft plastic suction cup which is placed on the baby’s head, whereas the forceps are metal spoons which fit around the baby’s head.
- They can sometimes cause minor bruising to the baby’s scalp. Very rarely they can cause bleeding under the baby’s scalp or damage to the skull bone.