The birth of your new baby may leave you feeling joy, anxiety or a mixture of both. Don’t worry - this is completely normal. All parents-to-be will "enjoy" this special day more if they are prepared and know what to expect during the different stages of labor. All women are unique and the experience will differ from one to the next. However, it is the most exciting and wonderous miracle of life.
The following are only guidelines so listen to your body and your instincts. If you are in any way doubtful, do not hesitate to call your midwife or doctor.
What Do I Do?
HELP! Okay, you've taken antenatal classes and read every book you could get your hands on, yet you're still certain that all that information will just fly straight out of your head when the time comes! Don’t panic: it will all come back. To help you feel a little bit more relaxed (and a little less surprised), here are some signs that labor may be imminent:
Weight loss: You may lose up to about 1-1.5kg in last few days. This is completely normal.
The baby moves less: As the baby is growing, he is running out of space to move around, but you should still feel him move about 6-10 times a day. If you don’t feel the baby moving or you are unsure, it is essential you contact your midwife or doctor.
Nesting: You may get the urge to suddenly want to give everything a thorough clean as the days become nearer to the arrival of your baby.
Diarrhea: You may experience slight diarrhea when starting labor.
Are You in Labor?
Show: The mucus plug that protects the baby in the womb comes away. It looks like a lump of clear jelly or liquid with streaks of blood (any heavy bleeding or bright red blood is not normal – contact your midwife or doctor immediately if this happens). You may experience a show a few days before your due date - don’t panic. Wait for other labour signs to occur.
Contractions: You may have been experiencing a tightening of the womb for a few days but now they are stronger, longer and more regular. They should start at about 30-minute intervals and gradually the gap between them gets shorter.
"Waters break": The amniotic fluid in which your baby has been living in for the past nine months has burst or started leaking. You may experience a gush or just a trickle. This fluid has a distinct smell and is usually clear; it is also followed by contractions. When this happens, make sure you get to the hospital or clinic immediately.
As labor starts, you may not be sure if it is the real thing or if it is just a false alarm. Here are a few signs to look out for when you think you may be in labor:
When to Go to the Hospital
We never seem to know when it is absolutely necessary to get to the hospital so here are some rules to follow:
Contractions are coming every five minutes or more often.
Your waters have broken
Your previous births were quick
You go into labor before 36 weeks
You start bleeding heavily
The pain is unbearable
Being a Supportive Partner
Be prepared: if you are feeling scared and helpless don’t worry - it is normal. The more you understand the process, the better you will feel. Try to understand what is happening to your partner. A good childbirth book may help. Here are sopme tips to keep in mind when the big day comes.
Comfort: Ask your partner if she feels comfortable and help her in as any way that you can to make her more comfortable. This way you will participate in the whole process.
Encouragement: Remember that no matter how much she may curse you, ignore you or not want you around, don’t take it personally. This is all natural and she may feel that she doesn’t know what she wants for herself either. Just give her as much support and encouragement she needs. And always try to remain as calm as possible.