Here comes Baby!
After nine months of pregnancy, the moment of birth is usually filled with anxious anticipation and you don’t really know what to expect.
You have either read about it or watched it in the movies: the Braxton Hicks or false contractions, the burst water bag, the expectant mum doubling up in pain or having to be carried in someone’s arms, the perspiration rolling down a mum in delivery as she pushes the baby out. Although you might assume that your delivery will be like the heroines in reel life, in real life however, it may vary - from being much more dramatic to totally smooth-flowing and uneventful. You’ll also find each birth experience different, each with its own unique moments, surprises, delights or false alarms!
So if you are counting your days to delivery, here are some tips to prepare for the big day:
Your doctor may provide you with an estimated time of delivery, but you can never tell if your baby decides to come earlier. By your eight month, it helps to keep a ‘grab bag’ of all essential items needed during your delivery. These include:
- ante-natal records
- two sets of baby clothes
- four sets of disposable diapers and nappies
- one set of fresh clothes for yourself
- baby towel
- baby blanket to bring baby home in
Keep the ‘grab bag’ in the car at all times, ready to go when you are!
Rushed to the hospital when you felt your abdomen painful, hard and contracting, only to be told it’s a false alarm? Even experienced mums find labour pains hard to describe, because pain is subject to the mum’s tolerance levels.
Also, you may not even have any labour pains when your water bag bursts. Needless to say, some mums opting for Caesarian-section may not even experience labour pains at all.
Most sources describe labour pains as pains that feel like severe menstrual cramps, beginning from the small of your back and slowly extending to the lower part of your abdomen. Some mums describe it simply as though the lower part of their bodies were being ripped out from their torso.
It gets more complicated; there’s also Braxton Hicks contractions which imitate labour pains and begin a month or so before delivery. Braxton Hicks serve to strengthen the muscles around the abdomen area to prepare the body for delivery.
Braxton Hicks contractions come and go suddenly, while real labour pains get increasingly intense and closer together with time.
Natural or C-section?
Most doctors will recommend natural birth as much as possible. Although having a C-section seems much simpler and less painful, having a natural birth allows your body to recover faster.
Your doctor will recommend a C-section if you have a high-risk pregnancy (such as advanced age, prolonged pregnancy term or when the baby is in a breech position). Some mothers opt for a C-section out of personal reasons so that they can be precise about the dates and time of their baby’s birth. It is best to discuss with your doctor as you approach your third trimester.
If your waters break
Don’t panic! It usually takes several hours before baby will actually be born. First, you should check whether it is really your water bag or leaking urine, as heavily pregnant women tend to have severe incontinence. The fluid flowing out should be:
- flowing out in heavy gushes, not trickles
- clear (like coconut water)
If your waters break, place a large towel between your legs to soak up the flowing fluids. Get your grab bag and head straight to the hospital. It helps to have emergency contacts ready such as the telephone numbers of friends, family members or the nearest ambulance service, in case this happens when you are alone.
Your contractions will begin a few hours later. Often, hospital staff will put you on an oxytoxin drip to induce the contractions and hasten delivery.
If the colour of your waters is greenish, the baby needs to be delivered immediately as it means he/she has defecated inside your uterus and is distressed. Your doctor will decide whether to use forceps, vacuum or carry out an emergency C-section to have the baby safely delivered.
What happens at the hospital
As soon as you arrive, get your companion to register while you are wheeled off to the labour room. Your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and urine will be tested.
Then, a cardiograph (a long black strip like a car safety belt) will be strapped to your abdomen area to monitor the baby’s heart rate while you are lying down. The nurses will conduct internal examinations intermittently to see how much your cervix has opened.
Your baby’s birth can take any time from a few minutes to 24 hours. The first baby usually takes the longest to arrive. If the nurse says your cervix is still not fully dilated, try to relax and walk about a bit to harness the power of gravity to push baby out.
When your cervix is fully dilated at 10 cm, your nurse will tell you it is time to push. Don’t be surprised to find that the contractions have lessened significantly, so you need to catch one big one and push hard on it. Take a deep breath and soon you will hear your baby’s first cry as he or she pops into the world!
The first hour
Baby will be whisked away for a few minutes to be vaccinated and tested for abnormalities. During this time, your nurse will ask you to push again to get your placenta out. Experienced mums will tell you every delivery is like giving birth two times. Your placenta must be delivered too, otherwise surgery might be required to remove it.
After that, you will be given a drink and allowed to rest for awhile until baby is delivered to your arms for the first time. Welcome to motherhood!