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by Liverpool Women's

Liverpool Women's

BLOG: One Born - Episode 3 - Early stages of labour

Blog by Gill Houghton, Consultant Midwife For Normality, 18th April 2017

Tonight's One Born gives us a fabulous insight into the different attitudes we have when preparing to give birth. We are all individuals with our own beliefs and ideas about what "the best birth possible" looks like, and this differs much more than you might imagine.

For some women it's very important they feel like they’ve given birth to their babies themselves and not relied upon medical assistance.. We are of course all different, with different needs, priorities and circumstances that may  influence our birth choices. Women should discuss their feelings and any concerns they have about birth with their midwife throughout pregnancy. There is then plenty of time and opportunity to explore all options and consider all the pros and cons, before making any decisions or plans for the birth.

As well as focussing on the importance of our home environment and what it means to us, tonight’s episode also  looks at the benefit of 'going home' during the early stage of labour and the importance of moving round.

Christians and Karolis have to deal with both of these issues as they become parents far from their home countries and are encouraged to spend the early part of labour at home.

At the start of labour, the cervix starts to soften so that it can open. This is called the "latent phase" and you may feel irregular contractions. It can take many hours, or even days, before you’re in established labour.

Established labour is when your cervix has dilated to more than 3cm and regular contractions are opening the cervix.

During the latent phase, it’s a good idea to have something to eat and drink, as you’ll need the energy once labour is established.

If your labour starts at night, try to stay comfortable and relaxed. Sleep if you can.
If your labour starts during the day, keep upright and gently active. This helps your baby move down into the pelvis and helps the cervix to dilate.

Breathing exercises, massage and having a warm bath or shower may help to ease pain during this early stage of labour.

Our leaflet 'How to know labour has started' provides more information and tips on what to do during the latent phase of labour.

Congratulations to all three couples featured in tonight's show. You really give us a fabulous snapshot into just how varied individuals expectations and experiences of birth can be. Every woman births their baby in their own unique way. I like to think we midwives can and do help, but I admit that mostly we merely wait and watch in amazement as women work with their bodies to become mothers.

18 April 2017