Pregnancy and childbirth is a wonderful journey and being knowledgeable and flexible will empower you and your spouse to gracefully welcome the little bundle of joy to the world and the long wait of nine months is over. Your bags are packed for the hospital and you have a birthing plan discussed with your doctor. While you are getting ready for the big day, we will discuss some basic terms and management of labor and delivery.


Dropping Down


Lightening is when the baby's head settles deep into your pelvis. Your upper abdomen gets relief and gets less full and lower abdominal discomfort increases. This can happen anywhere from a few weeks to a few hours before labor begins.

Contractions are when your womb muscles harden and then relax. In the last few months of pregnancy, you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions which are irregular and painless.


False labor pains


You may experience irregular contractions of the uterus, which may stop if you change positions, walk or rest. In doubt reach the hospital.


True Labour pains


These are regular, progressively increasing contractions and do not stop even on changing positions, walking, or resting with each contraction lasting 30-60 seconds.

Show – many women experience blood-tinged mucus plug discharge at the start of labor.

You should immediately reach the hospital when

  • You have regular contractions
  • Baby is moving less
  • There is watery discharge or blood-stained discharge
  • Anything which worries you


Stages of labor


Latent Phase


Your cervix will soften and contractions may be very slight. It may last for many hours. You may eat, drink, sleep or walk around, whatever is comfortable.


First Stage of Labour


Once labor is established and the cervix (mouth of the uterus) is 3-4 cm dilated, you and your baby will be examined by the doctor more frequently. You may discuss your pain relief options with your doctor.  It may take 6 - 12 hours in a first-time pregnant lady and lesser in the next pregnancy. You may walk around or be in a comfortable position and have liquids during this time.

If your labor is slow the doctor may offer to speed up labor by oxytocin drip or artificial rupture of the bag of membranes. Your baby’s heartbeat will be monitored frequently.


Second Stage of Labour


This happens when the cervix is fully dilated (10 cm) and thinned out (effaced).

You may experience a bearing down/pushing sensation. It may take up to 2 hours in the first time pregnant lady and lesser in the next pregnancy It may take longer if epidural pain relief was taken.

The doctor will give you a local anaesthetic medicine and may give a controlled cut in the perineum called an episiotomy.

This stage of labor may be difficult but your doctor, nurses, and partner will encourage you.

Once the baby is born skin to skin contact and early breastfeeding will be encouraged. The paediatrician will assess and help the baby. Delayed cord clamping is encouraged if feasible.


Third Stage of Labour


Most of the hard work now is already over. In this stage, your placenta will deliver. Episiotomy and tears will be stitched and bleeding will be controlled.


Fourth Stage of Labour


It is the 1-2 hours after delivery in which you will be observed for bleeding and will be encouraged for passing urine.


Pain Relief in Labour


Labour is a painful process. Here are some tips for you to cope with pain and relax:

  • Attend antenatal birth preparation classes with your spouse to be more prepared
  • Breathe deeply, relax and stay calm
  • Moving around by walking, kneeling, and rocking may help
  • Having a spouse/relative/doula may help
  • Back massage, hot water bag may help
  • Epidural Analgesia by an injection given in the back by the anaesthetist is an effective option and can be discussed during pregnancy and labor

Your birthing will be monitored and tailored according to your needs and safety. Wishing you safe and happy motherhood!

Also, Read: Here is a list of things you should do while preparing for labor !

with Dr. Shilpa Ghosh


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