The muscles in the uterus gradually open up (dilate) the cerix to 8-10cm. Signs that labour has started appear in any order and include..
- a show
-backache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
When you have a show, the plug of mucus sealing he cervix comes away, and may be bloodstained.
Labour contractions are weak and irregular to start with. They gradually become stronger, more intense and closer together. The uterus becomes tight for up to a minute, then relaxes.
Braxton Hicks contractions can be felt after 32 weeks. These are only 'practice' contractions, and are eratic and uncombfortable rather than painful.
When your waters break (rupturing of the membranes), the amniotic fluid should be clear or slightly pink. The fluid may come in a slow trickle or a sudden gush.
- Very strong contradictions push the baby along the birth canal (formed by the uterus, cervix and vagina)
- The mother has an urge to push
- The midwife gives guidance so that the head is born gradually. When the widest part of the head comes out of the vagina, it is known as crowning.
- Sometimes the head causes a small tear
- Sometimes an episiotomy (a cut in the vagina) is needed to let the head pass through, this is stitched.
- The umbilical cord is cut between two clamps.
The injection of oxytocin may be given to the mother to stop excessive bleeding, and help the placenta and remaining cord to be delivered quickly-this takes 5-15 minutes. Alternatively, the woman may have a physiological third stage, where the placenta is left…