Labour and Birth 2017-05-26T16:29:07+00:00

Labour and Birth

One of the most intense, emotional, intimate and life-changing experiences of a woman’s life.

Labour and childbirth are as individual as the women who experience them. Every labour is different and where this is your first pregnancy, is likely to feel rather like embarking on an unfamiliar journey to an unknown destination. The term ‘labour’ is an apt description because giving birth is hard work, and, in most cases, takes quite a long time. This section provides lots of practical information and handy tips to help you prepare for your labour and baby’s entrance into the world.

Top labour and birth information

Choosing where to have your baby

What pain relief options do I have for labour and birth?

Monitoring your baby’s heart rate in labour

Who can support me during labour?

What is a waterbirth?

Forceps during birth

What is breech?

What is a Caesarean section?

Delivering your placenta: The third stage of labour

Vaginal Birth after Caesarean (VBAC)

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Delivering your placenta: The third stage of labour

Delivering your placenta: The third stage of labour When your midwife or doctor talks about the third stage of labour they are referring to the time from your baby’s birth until the placenta and membranes, and the remaining section of umbilical cord attached to them, have been delivered. On average, the third stage of labour lasts for between five and 15 minutes. There are two methods that can be used to deliver the placenta and membranes:   ‘Active management of the third stage’  ‘Physiological (or natural) third stage’. Your [...]

Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord

Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord The umbilical cord - also referred to as the birth cord, connects the developing baby to the placenta (afterbirth). The cord literally acts as a ‘life line’ supplying the baby with oxygen and nutrients that support its growth and development whilst they are in the uterus (womb).   What does the umbilical cord look like? In a baby that is born at term (around their due date), the cord has a spiral twist and is normally around 50-60 cm long, with a diameter of approximately [...]

Vaginal Birth after Caesarean (VBAC)

Vaginal Birth after Caesarean (VBAC) The term VBAC refers to having a vaginal birth when you’ve previously had at least one baby delivered by caesarean section. If your first baby was delivered by caesarean and you go on to have a subsequent pregnancy, you will need to decide how your next baby will be born. There are two options to choose from: elective repeat caesarean section (this is usually booked for the week leading up to your baby’s due date), and VBAC. Research indicates that women who choose VBAC [...]

Caesarean section birth

Caesarean section birth There is concern about the rise in the number of babies being born by caesarean section, with studies indicating that women are now around five times more likely to give birth by caesarean than they were forty years ago. Caesarean section (also referred to as an ‘operative birth’) is the commonest major operation performed on women worldwide and can also be a life-saving procedure. It is usually performed where it is felt that a vaginal birth (also called ‘normal delivery’) could put the health and wellbeing [...]

Forceps & Ventouse Births

Forceps & Ventouse Births Forceps and ventouse births (also called vacuum extraction/suction cup) are referred to as ‘assisted’ or ‘instrumental’ births. There are clinical guidelines that UK midwives and doctors use in the maternity services and these identify when it is advisable to assist a woman to birth her baby. For mothers who are having their first baby; it is recommended that birth should take place within three hours of being in the ‘active’ second stage of labour (ie the pushing phase). Where the woman has been pushing for [...]

I’ve been told that my baby is ‘breech’!

I’ve been told that my baby is ‘breech’! If you are told that your baby is breech, it means that they are lying inside the uterus (womb) with their ‘bottom down’ and the buttocks or feet closest to your cervix (the neck of the womb). By contrast, where your baby is lying ‘head down’ – this is called a cephalic presentation. During the early months of pregnancy, your baby is small and is surrounded by plenty of amniotic fluid (liquor); this means there is lots of room to move [...]

Waterbirth: Immersion in water for labour and/or your baby’s birth

Waterbirth: Immersion in water for labour and/or your baby’s birth When we have aches and pains, are feeling stressed, or are fatigued, there is nothing quite like a nice long soak in the bath to soothe our discomfort, aid relaxation and lift our spirits. The same may be said for immersion in water during labour and childbirth. This can include getting into your bath at home during the very early stages of labour to ease backache and/or uterine (womb) contractions; hiring a birth pool for use at home, or [...]

Choosing where to have your baby: place of birth

Choosing where to have your baby: place of birth Having a baby is generally very safe for the vast majority of women and their babies; this is why UK maternity services offer women the choice of where they would prefer to give birth. Many women assume that they will have their baby in hospital, particularly where this is their first pregnancy. However, you will be offered a number of options early in pregnancy and can discuss these at any time, as your pregnancy advances. The important thing is to [...]

Pain relief options for labour and birth

Pain relief options for labour and birth This article has been written to provide clear evidence based information about the various pain relief options available for labour and birth, so you can start to think about what you might prefer. There is a lot of information to take in, so we do advise that you also discuss these options with your midwife and doctor. They will be able to help you with any queries and provide any additional information that you might need, so you understand the benefits and [...]

Aromatherapy

What is aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy which involves the use of highly concentrated essential oils that are obtained from plants. These can be used in a variety of ways to encourage relaxation, a sense of calmness and wellbeing, promote healing and soothe discomfort. Aromatherapy can be administered in a variety of ways including massage, inhalation, or by being added to bath water. In many UK maternity units, midwives have undertaken additional training to be able to offer aromatherapy to the women in their care. Midwives wishing to [...]

Monitoring your baby’s heart rate in labour

Monitoring your baby’s heart rate in labour This article has been written to explain how your midwife and doctor observe and record your baby’s heart rate during labour, so they can monitor your baby’s health and wellbeing. During your pregnancy, the midwives and doctors will regularly listen into your baby’s heartbeat. They do this to check that there are no changes to your baby’s heart rate pattern, which could suggest your baby has a problem with their health and wellbeing. A baby’s normal heart rate can be anything in [...]

The ‘Latent phase’ of labour

The ‘Latent phase’ of labour Labour and childbirth are as individual as the women who experience them. Every labour is different and where this is your first baby, it is likely to feel rather like embarking on an unfamiliar journey to an unknown destination. The term ‘labour’ is an apt description because giving birth is hard work and normally takes quite a long time.   The stages of labour There are three stages of labour that you are likely to hear your midwife or doctor refer to: The first [...]

Who can support me during labour?

Who can support me during labour? Giving birth is one of the most intense, emotional, intimate and life-changing experiences of your life. Where this is your first pregnancy, going into labour could also be your first experience of being in hospital. If you have chosen a hospital birth it is likely that you will feel apprehensive, a little scared and even vulnerable. At this time, the continuous support of someone that you know and trust is extremely important. Studies show that women who are able to choose their birth [...]