You’ve had nine (or almost 10 months) to look forward to your little one’s arrival. But no matter how prepared you think you are, your first experience at childbirth will always come with a few surprises. So be ready to expect the unexpected and go with the flow with your husband so that both of you can experience more together. Here are a few things that might happen during labour and ways to tackle it like a pro…
YOU MIGHT BE IN LABOUR FOR A LONG TIME
They say your first is your longest and they are usually right. “From the time my water broke, I was in labour for about 12 hours until I was fully dilated,” recalls Ashley Chong, 34, mum to Alvin, 16 months.
While you can expect nature to take its course, there are things you can do to help your labour progress. Keeping your pelvis in motion can help junior get in the best position to come out. Try to walk a bit, do squats or bounce lightly on a birthing ball.
“It will help to reduce any back pain, anxiety and potentially shorten the first stage of labour,” points out Dr Kelly Loi, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Health & Fertility Centre for Women. A calming hot shower also soothes aches and pains.
YOU MIGHT REQUEST AN EPIDURAL
Most mums forget the blood, sweat and tears they shed while giving birth once they hold their adorable baby. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. There’s a reason why it’s called labour – it’s hard, painful work. Don’t be afraid to ask for assisted pain relief if you can’t endure the pain. It’s better to feel comfortable as you dilate and save that energy for when it’s time to do the real work.
If you decide to get an epidural, your anaesthetist will give you an injection in your lower back, guide a hollow needle between the small bones in your spine and pass a catheter through the needle which will feed your system with meds. Your doctor will most probably take you off the epidural when you’re ready for delivery, so you can push along with your contractions.
THINGS MIGHT NOT FOLLOW YOUR BIRTH PLAN
At 32 weeks, you should sit down with your gynae and discuss how you want your birth to go. Discuss things like your pain-relief options, whether you want an episiotomy or a perineal tear and your views on vaccines after birth. This plan is then submitted to your hospital’s delivery suite.
While having a list of instructions in place will help to keep you calm during labour, sometimes things just don’t go according plan. You might have to go for an emergency C-section, the doctor might have to use assisted vaginal delivery tools such as forceps or vacuum extraction, or you might have changed your mind about doing it medication free.
Whatever happens, Dr Loi says that the most important thing is to keep an open mind and make decisions with your doctor on what is the best course of action for you and your little one.
YOU DELIVER MORE THAN THE BABY
You may think your work is complete once your little miracle is finally out in the world safe and sound, but there’s actually more. After the hubs has cut the cord, your doctor will gently tug on your placenta and instruct you to push it out. Don’t worry. It may feel a little uncomfy, but it’s relatively painless.