What is labour?
Labour is the process of expelling the baby and the placenta with it’s membranes through the birth canal.
Normal labour is spontaneous, occurs at more than 37 weeks with a baby in the head down position. The whole process is usually complete in 18 hours with no complications.
2-3 weeks before labour, the fetal head will sink lower into the pelvis and the head will engage. In first time mums, this may not happen until labour starts. Engagement with the pelvis provides relief under the lungs and also allows space for easier breathing, sleeping and digestion, although congestion in the pelvis will mean more frequent trips to the bathroom!
Braxton Hicks – Practice contractions particularly towards the end of pregnancy, can be painful are irregular and will last longer than a minute.
Early labour can start with backache – place a hand on your abdomen and you will feel the muscle tightening.
When to contact your midwife
Contact your midwife when contractions are becoming regular, lasting around 60 seconds, are 10 minutes apart and becoming uncomfortable.
A Show is a good sign that changes are happening to the cervix. The show is a bloodstained, mucoid plug of jelly like substance which is passed as the cervix starts to ripen, soften and dilate slightly. This can be passed days before labour commences or during the early stages of labour.
Waters may rupture at this stage but more often go during active labour. Fluid should be clear. Contact your midwife as soon as waters rupture.
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