10 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Labor
How do I know if I am in active labor? When should I call my doctor?
When you are in true labor, you can start keeping track of your contractions. Note down the duration of each contraction and the intervals between contractions. Mild contractions may last about 60 to 90 seconds and occur at 15 to 20 minute intervals. Active labor is when you have strong contractions lasting 45 to 60 seconds every 3 to 5 minutes.
How can I tell if my water has broken?
When your waters break you may experience an obvious gush of pale watery fluid or wetness around your vagina or perineum. There will be either intermittent leaking of fluid or constant leaking of watery fluid.
What medications can I have for labor pains?
Options available for pain management are:
– Nitrous Oxide
You may have heard of “laughing gas” or “happy gas” as a method of pain relief. You simply breathe in the gas through a mouthpiece and the effects reach the brain within 15 seconds. It’s not understood exactly how nitrous oxide provides pain relief, but it is thought to alter how we perceive pain.
– Narcotics – These are given intravenously or intramuscularly. As you get closer to giving birth, narcotics will no longer be given so your baby is born without any side effects from the medication.
– Epidural – This is the most commonly used method. Pain relieving anaesthetic is given in the epidural space of your spine.
Spinal block – A pain blocking procedure typically used before delivery where the anaesthetic is placed in the spinal canal.
In the case of an emergency caesarean when there is no time for epidural or spinal, general anaesthesia may be required.
When should I start pushing?
When you cervix is completely dilated to 10 cm you will can start pushing. This is usually instinctive and the mother pushes as hard as necessary. If you have received an epidural, your pain is relieved but you will feel the pressure. The doctor or nurse will give you guidance to push effectively.
How long will I push for?
It depends on a number of factors. It can range from a few minutes to hours. If it is your first vaginal delivery your pelvic muscles are tight and it takes some time to push the baby out slowly and steadily. It might take much lesser time during subsequent deliveries. It also depends on the size and shape of your pelvis, size of your baby and position of the baby in the uterus.
Will I need an episiotomy?
Earlier doctors believed that episiotomy is necessary for all vaginal births. But now it is given only in certain cases such as –
If the baby has distress and needs help to be delivered faster
If the vagina tears during delivery and starts to extend to sensitive areas like urethra and clitoris.
It can be hard to predict the need for episiotomy and depends on the individual cases.
Who can be with me during my delivery?
You can decide who you would like to be with you during your delivery. Most hospitals have their own rules on how many people can be with you in your room considering the limited space. Having your close relatives with you can be comforting. But your needs may change as you progress in labor. You might not want a lot of people during later stages. So plan accordingly.
Are eating and drinking allowed during labor?
Every hospital has its policy regarding eating and drinking during labor. Earlier doctors discouraged it mainly due to fear of aspiration. Nowadays the rules have been relaxed. Talk to your doctor about the hospital policies. During an elective C-section, strict guidelines are given about avoiding food before administration of anaesthesia.
Can I have a water birth?
Water birth is available in some hospitals. Use of water in the first stage of labor helps relax your muscles, ease your pain and avoid pain relief.
How long should i stay in the hospital after delivery?
It depends on the type of delivery and the health condition of the mother and baby. In the public health system, if you had a normal vaginal delivery without any complications you may be allowed to go home after about 24 to 48 hours – in the private system generally your stay will be 3 nights. The typical hospital stay after caesarean delivery is about 3 days in the public system and 5 nights in the private system.
You can book in with Dr Kaur on (07) 3839 0552.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.
This post was written by Dr Anu Kaur