Giving Birth

This section provides information about what you can expect when the time comes to give birth to your baby.
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While it’s nearly impossible to plan for every aspect of your labour and delivery, you will probably appreciate feeling prepared. A few things to think through in advance of your birth:

  • Create your birth plan, so that you and your midwife/obstetrician are on the same page as to how you’d ideally like your baby to be born.
  • Pack your hospital bag.
  • Have a look at a few common labour positions or attend one of the many parent education workshops available.
  • Read up on breastfeeding basics, since you’ll most likely be able to give it a go the moment your baby arrives.
  • Know the signs of labour so you’ll be aware when baby is almost here!

What happens during labour and birth?

Labour describes the gradual process of the womb contracting that eventually results in the birth of your baby.  Every labour is different and its pattern and progress can be difficult to predict.  This is a very special and unique time, and here at Saint Mary’s we hope to support you as much as you need through this process.

In this section we will describe the basics of labour, and what to expect.  More information is available from your midwife and also from parent education classes.

There are three stages to labour:

  • The first stage, when your contractions make the neck of the womb (cervix) gradually open up (dilate). This is usually the longest stage. It includes ‘early labour’ (also known as the ‘latent phase’) and ‘established labour’.
  • The second stage of labour is when your cervix is fully open and you give birth. This is the part of labour where you help your baby move through the birth canal by pushing with your contractions.
  • The third stage of labour is after the birth, when your womb contracts and causes the placenta (or after birth) to deliver. This is usually the quickest stage and takes less than 1 hour.

Early Labour

Established Labour

The second stage of labour

This includes the ‘pushing’ stage.  It begins when the cervix is fully dilated and lasts until the birth of your baby.  Your midwife will help you find a comfortable position and guide you when you feel the urge to push.

Finding a position to give birth in

Find the position you prefer and that will make labour easier.  You can stand, sit, kneel or squat and an upright position is recommended as this is the easiest and most effective position to help the baby be born.  Some positions are more appropriate depending on the position of your baby and your midwife can guide you to choose the best position for both of you.

Pushing the baby out

When your cervix is fully dilated and your baby moves downwards, you will feel a very strong urge to push.  The midwife will support you with this.  Find out more about  what your birth partner can do.

The third stage of labour

This is the name given to the delivery of the placenta.  It is recommended that you have an injection in your thigh just as the baby is born, to speed this up and to prevent heavy bleeding.  If you would prefer not to have this injection, please discuss this with your midwife.

Soon after your baby is born, your midwife will examine your vagina and perineum for any tears and either your midwife or a doctor will repair these (if needed) to help the healing process.

Encourage your baby to lie skin to skin on your chest after birth – this could also be done by your partner.  Skin to skin his has been shown to encourage parent-baby bonding, regulate baby’s temperature and breathing and will encourage you both to recover after birth.  It also prepares your baby for their first feed, regardless of feeding method.

It is recommended to let your baby breastfeed as soon after birth as possible.  This helps with breastfeeding later on and it also helps your womb contract.  Most babies start sucking immediately.  However, this sometimes occurs just for a short period of time – they may just like to feel the nipple in their mouth.

Meeting your baby

As long as you haven’t experienced any complications during labour and delivery, you’ll be able to hold your baby — and breastfeed, if you choose — immediately following delivery, often while you’re delivering your placenta and your practitioner is repairing any tears. Take the time for some quality cuddling together — and speak up, since your baby will recognise your voice and your partner’s. You may feel an immediate bond with your baby, or you may feel somewhat detached. Both responses are completely normal. No matter how you feel now, you will come to love your baby intensely. Sometimes it just takes a little time.