Newbie mums: Vital facts about labour and delivery

Kudos for making it to delivery day! Now, wise up to the important labour decisions you’ll need to make.


Labour seems like a daunting process when you’re a first-time mum. Yet, this is the final — and all important — push that will make the past 9 months well worth your sweat, pain and effort!

Every pregnancy and birth experience is unique to a mother, even for women who have given birth before. So don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to your baby’s arrival. Make informed decisions based on what your doctor says will work for you. Here is Dr Tan Toh Lick’s, a Consultant Obstetrician-Gynaecologist at Thomson Women’s Clinic, labour advice:

1) What is a “normal” pregnancy?

A normal pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks. This day which is given as the estimated due date (EDD). Deliveries from 37 to 42 weeks are considered within the normal range ― this period is known as term. Most pregnancies either go into labour at term, or have a planned Caesarean section for delivery. About one in five pregnancies will require labour to be to be induced because of medical indication or by maternal choice. Induction at or beyond 37 weeks is associated with fewer foetal deaths, fewer Caesarean sections and fewer infant illnesses such as meconium aspiration syndrome — a process when baby passes his first stools while he is still in the womb. As the absolute risk of foetal death is small, the mum-to-be can opt to induce labour at term, or be monitored until about 42 weeks, with appropriate counselling.

“There is the risk of drowning, and umbilical cord avulsion — a process where the umbilical cord snaps — associated with water births.”

2) What delivery options do I have?

Most women will choose to have a vaginal delivery. A number will have a Caesarean section because of medical indication, or by maternal choice. Overall, one in four to one in five pregnancies will be delivered by Caesarean section.

Some women may also choose to have a water births. Water births can reduce the need of pain-relief during cervical dilatation to full dilatation. However, there is the risk of drowning, and umbilical cord avulsion — a process where the umbilical cord snaps.

Less than 1 per cent of women have a home birth by choice or it’s unplanned. The Singapore College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists issued a statement in 2012 stating that “unassisted home births to be unsafe, and advises women to avoid having unassisted home births where possible”.

Click to learn what you should do when you are in labour…