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Normal labor and delivery: practice, essentials, definition, stages

Normal labor

Normal labor is a well-known physiologic process which involves the expelling of the grown fetus, placenta, membranes and umbilical cord. The uterine contractions with the cervical dilations make labor successful. The stages are divided in to 4.

Normal labor

Partograph is one of the essential during normal labor. During the first stage, initial examination, lab tests, patient preparation, positioning, pain management and monitoring help the gynecologist deliver the baby. Read on to understand more about how to get a normal labor.

What is normal labor?

This is reflective on the apprehension or anxiety associated with labor and delivery. This question comes even more relevant as the pregnant lady approaches her estimated day of delivery (EDD). This date is calculated from either the date of first day of the last normal menstrual period or from an ultrasound scan done especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

This EDD is more of a guide for us clinicians to approximate when you will deliver and will help in management of the pregnancy itself. However it must be mentioned that less than 10% of women actually deliver ON the EDD. Majority would deliver +/- 2 weeks from this date. It must be mentioned, labor itself can come anytime, much like the coming of Jesus, we know it will come it is just that we don’t know when it will.

What are stages of normal labor?

Pre-labor

This is the period towards the end of the pregnancy and begins at around 34-36 weeks of pregnancy. The uterus begins to prepare itself for the delivery and in fact many a client would complain of increased tightening of the abdomen (Braxton hicks’ contractions). The baby’s head if properly positioned would also settle into the pelvis leading to increased lower abdominal pains, increased urinary frequency and a general feeling of pressure in the pelvis with a drop of your belly. At around this time nature has it that the tissues would start softening so as to facilitate the birthing process.

Labor

Generally in majority of patients, labor does come in after 38 weeks. It is a process that is diagnosed AFTER it has started, as mentioned above, one cannot tell when it will start. Medically it is a process accompanied by regular and increasing uterine contractions accompanied by opening up of the cervix (opening of the womb) and leading to delivery of the baby.

 What are the common signs of labor and delivery?

Passing of mucus like discharge

This is commonly referred to as show. This mucus acts as a plug to the uterus, keeping the baby and amniotic fluid inside the uterus and prevents any bacteria from accessing the womb through the birth canal. As the cervix opens, the plug becomes loose and is passed out. It may have some slight blood mixed with the mucus.

Contractions

These contractions will be located mostly in the lower abdominal area, below the region of the belly button and would seem to affect all the way to the back. They have increasing frequency time between each tightening shortens, and increasing intensity, the strength of the contraction becomes thus increasing pain and the duration of the tightening is also lengthened. In short, the contractions are closer, longer and stronger. This is also indicative of the progression of the labor itself as the contractions would increase as the labor progresses toward delivery of the baby.

The combination of the two signs indicates that labor has been established. Other sign that may accompany is leakage of fluid through the vagina, finding of loose stools. Once a client I had came to hospital complaining of food poisoning only for me to inform her that her baby is coming. This would necessitate a visit to your nearest hospital.

The second stage of labor is also recognized by a variety of signs and symptoms. This stage is associated with imminent delivery of the baby and commonly heralded by a bout of sweating of mother, vomiting and a feeling of wanting to pass stool (coincidentally the stage associated with most of the screaming found in the labor ward. These symptoms are caused by the descending of the baby through the birth canal.

Normal labor is said to be complete once we have delivered the baby and placenta. Contact Velvet Health for help on Lamaze classes and delivery assistance and preparation.

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