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Is My Pregnancy Going Well?

Preparing for Birth

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 13:40

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

No two births are alike. Labor is a series of changing conditions, and no amount of examination can predict how a woman or her baby will respond.

What Type Of Delivery Is Best?

The mother's health and/or baby's condition will largely determine the type of delivery.

  • Vaginal birth is the traditional style of delivery in which the mother is an active participant.
  • Cesarean birth is a surgical delivery through an abdominal incision.

Often the position of your baby or the placenta affects the course of labor. Cesarean delivery may be needed if the baby's position cannot be changed or if the placenta's position makes vaginal delivery a risk. A Cesarean also is needed if the fetus is unable to tolerate labor and is becoming low on oxygen, or if the labor fails to progress.

Is This Labor?

Labor is a series of uterine contractions that open the cervix for birth.

Your due date is a good guide in determining if you are indeed in labor. But it's important to remember that babies are often born days or weeks before or after due dates.

Signs the baby will soon be born include:

  • Irregular tightening or contractions of the uterus
  • Increased and thickened vaginal secretions
  • Pink or brown-tinged discharge indicating breakdown of the mucus plug sealing the uterus

Labor often starts slowly. Regular, uncomfortable contractions that come more often than one every 10 minutes may mean the woman is in labor.

Many women are told to leave for the hospital when contractions are 5 to 10 minutes apart or if there is bleeding or leaking of amniotic fluid.

If your physician believes continuing the pregnancy might harm you or your baby, he or she may induce labor. Induction of labor often involves chemical or physical stimulation. Techniques include:

  • Physical stimulation to loosen the amniotic sac from the uterine wall
  • Rupturing the membranes with a special tool
  • Administering a drug to start labor, either by giving it intravenously (oxytocin) or into the vagina (prostaglandins)

Is My Pregnancy Going Well?