Labor and Delivery

For most women, labor begins between week 37 and 42 of pregnancy. Labor which starts before 36 weeks of pregnancy is considered preterm or premature. The signs and length of labor differ from woman to woman.

Ascertaining the exact time of labor is difficult, but there are a few signs which may help you to know when is the correct time for you to go to your birthing place.

  • Off and on cramping pain in the abdomen and lower back, not better on rest.
  • Passing of blood-mixed mucus discharge, which is known as “show”. This could happen when labor is about to start or when it is still several days away.
  • Painful contractions lasting longer and/or at shorter regular intervals.
  • With contractions, the water bag also breaks causing watery leak per vaginum.

It is almost impossible to calculate the exact duration of your labor. Length of labor is based on various factors like:

  • Shape and size of your pelvis in accordance with the baby’s position and alignment.
  • The pattern of your contractions and the response of cervix.

Usually, active labor may take between eight to twelve hours. Labor is usually shorter in second or further deliveries and longer in induced labor.

But you can reduce the duration of your labor, by-

–    Staying relaxed following certain deep breathing or relaxation techniques during pain.

–    Taking plenty of liquids throughout labor for a smooth process.

–    Pushing or bearing down only once you have been told to do so at full dilatation.

Braxton Hicks contractions are experienced by many women during the first and second part of the third trimester. They are not that painful and are not associated with hardening of the uterus (not associated with contractions). They may either be continuous or of fixed off and of a pattern.

On the other hand, actual labor contractions feel like severe cramps which come in wave-like form, starting from the back to the front. They get more painful and intense with time. They may also be associated with other signs of labor like the show (passing of blood-mixed mucus discharge), hardening of the uterus etc.

The pain is usually the same whether you deliver one baby or multiple babies. But, you might perceive it more because of the bigger size of the womb. The expectant mother carrying twins anyway suffers more discomfort with her posture and breathing. Just a little addition that you have to push twice if you choose to deliver your kids vaginally. In most cases, the second twin is born much more conveniently as the first baby has already paved the way.

Usually, not! Walking around the neighborhood, doing light exercises, having spicy food, stimulating nipples or having sex and asking your partner to ejaculate inside the vagina, taking castor oil with a banana smoothie or fresh pineapple smoothie are some suggested crude methods of inducing labor. However, no matter how many methods there may be to induce labor, it is best to leave it to your body and baby to take charge when it wants to come out.

90% of women’s water breaks during active labor. Then it is considered a sign of labor progressing and likely imminent delivery. But because of various factors, water bag can also break before pregnancy has reached term or before the labor has begun. This can be a high-risk factor for both maternal and neonatal infection. Hence you need to take a well-informed decision for induction after consulting your obstetrician or midwife.

During pregnancy it is highly advisable to avoid the following foods:

– Pineapple and papaya

– Raw and undercooked eggs

– Undercooked and raw meat and poultry, such as pink or raw meat that is bloody

– High mercury-containing fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore and tuna

– Unpasteurized milk

When the baby is moving lower in the expectant mother’s body, then it is getting prepared to be born. Delivery can either be weeks away, or it could only be a matter of a few hours. So, baby dropping cannot be considered as a reliable sign. Best way to know about the approximate time of packing bags and getting in the car to hit the hospital is to check for other signs of the onset of labor.

Not necessarily, it depends on your health condition and the period of gestation. Second-time mothers usually have quicker labor whether spontaneous or induced. During labor, you should maintain adequate hydration level for quick and smooth labor progress in either case. Induced labor has a higher possibility of C-section than spontaneous labor. Hence, you should make an informed decision of choosing between spontaneous and induced labor by keeping in mind the well-being of both the expectant mother and the baby.

It is not about easy or difficult.  Second labor is definitely quicker and there are many other factors that decide whether the delivery will be smooth or challenging. If your previous delivery has been a C-section then you need to consult a senior gynecologist to plan an elective repeat section or have a trial of vaginal delivery, in a facility with a good set-up to perform an emergency C-section in case it is required. Also, depending on your age, certain complications may occur in the second delivery increasing your risk of having a C-section even if you have had vaginal delivery previously. If after first vaginal delivery you have not done enough exercise to tone up your muscles, then, you have higher chances of having a C-section in the second delivery because of the abnormal baby position due to the lax abdomen.

It is safe to eat during labor. But more important is to eat while sitting so that you do not stifle. Also, you should have easily digestible food in labor so that you are not constipated as constipation interferes progress of labor. Also, you should avoid caffeine diet in labor as it interferes with the pain relief given during labor. You should keep yourself well-hydrated throughout labor. Your doctor decides your chance of C-section. Ideally, you should be an empty stomach at least for 4 hours before having a C-section. So, in that case, the decision should be as advised by the anesthetist or your obstetrician.

Painless delivery is an option given to the mother during vaginal birth. Medication is injected through a fine pipe cited in your lower back and dose of the medicine is monitored according to your need. The labor progresses as usual but the mother will not feel the pain of the contractions. In case C-section is required it can be done through the same injection with a higher dosage of medicine. You might need to be catheterized (have a pipe for urinating) because you might not feel any urine sensation due to numbness in your legs. It does not increase any risk of C-section, however, may increase the delivery time during vaginal birth.