Labour, and the birth of your baby
The birth of a first
child generally lasts 8 to 12 hours, while the birth of subsequent
children takes an average of seven hours. Only in extreme cases
do expectant mothers remain in the Birth Room for more than 24 hours,
while the likelihood of a 2 hour birth is equally slim.
and relaxation exercises learned during birth preparation courses make
it easier for the expectant mother to cope with her contractions.
The signs of labour are:
- Regular, frequently occurring contractions;
- Release of amniotic fluid;
- Potential passing of a mucus plug.
The opening phase (first stage) lasts for 6 to 10 hours and is designed to open the uterine orifice, which widens slightly with every contraction. The attending midwife or doctor regularly monitors the opening of the uterine orifice, until it has reached a width of approximately 10 cm.
Meanwhile, your contractions will increase in strength as the intervals between them diminish. In the subsequent expulsion phase (second stage), your unborn child approaches the light of the world with every contraction. In this phase, your contractions are four times as strong as in the opening phase and are accompanied by an intense feeling of pressure. The child’s head is now pressing against your lower pelvis, your intestines and your vaginal opening, which feels as if it is going to tear under the intense pressure.
At this juncture, your doctor may perform an episiotomy in order to prevent tearing and to facilitate the emergence of the child’s head. The head forces its way through the vaginal opening, followed by the shoulders, and then the rest of your child’s body slides out of the birth canal.
The midwife will lay your newborn baby on your belly, returning the child to the familiar contact with his or her mother. These first moments are for you and your baby alone.