As you are approaching the last few weeks of your pregnancy you will be getting quite anxious. This period can be traumatic, but you’ll be more at ease if you and your partner are prepared for this life changing experience.
Planning Ahead for Childbirth
Learn all you can about the birthing process. Most hospital and birth centers offer antenatal classes that go through the birth process, so be sure to take your partner along. These classes will teach you about the different stages of labor and what to expect at each stage.
At your prenatal classes and during your doctor or midwife appointments, be sure to ask about these important issues:
- When to go to the hospital (if you are having a hospital birth)
- What to expect when you get there
- What pain-relief options will you be offered (if any)
- What possible emergency situations may occur
- What resources are available to you
- When would it be necessary for you to have a caesarean section
- What will happen immediately after giving birth
How Does Labor Begin?
Although labor begins differently for each woman, there are some definite signs that the baby is on the way:
- You experience contractions
- Your water breaks
- You have the "bloody show"; this is a vaginal discharge of blood-tinged mucus
Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD)
Most women should be strong and healthy enough to deliver their baby with an uncomplicated NVD. During delivery, your doctor or midwife performs certain procedures such as:
- Vaginal examination: Performed regularly to monitor your progress
- Enema: May be given to empty the colon to prevent defecation (passing of stool) during labor
- Intravenous line: May be inserted into you arm to administer fluids or painkillers
- Fetal monitoring: An external ultrasound monitor is placed on your tummy to monitor your baby’s wellbeing if your cervix has not fully dilated. If your water has broken, an internal monitor could be used.
Here are some common procedures used to assist during delivery when nature needs a little hand:
- Inducing labor: Contractions are stimulated by using medication or by amniotomy (breaking of the waters by making a tear in the amniotic membrane by using a small plastic hook). Reasons for inducing labor could be post-term pregnancy, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes mellitus, previous stillbirth or premature rupture of membranes.
- Episiotomy: A small cut, done under local anesthetic, is made to enlarge the vaginal opening when the baby’s head is crowning to prevent the muscles from tearing
- Vacuum extraction: Used to assist the mother if she becomes too exhausted or if the baby shows any sign of distress. A small cup is placed on the baby’s head and a slight suction is applied.
- Forceps: Instruments used to guide the baby’s head out of the birth canal
Have a tale to tell about how you choose your method of birth? Then visit Pregnancy Stories to post your anecdote about pregnancy and the decisions you have made during your third trimester.
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