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Your worries about labour solved

Worried about pain during labour, how long the baby will take to come out or if you'll poo during the birth? We answer your concerns about what happens when you have your baby


Posted: 22 November 2011
by Kimberley Smith

What if my baby just won’t come out?

There are two ways that your baby will come out – vaginally or by caesarean. Whatever happens, you will not be pregnant forever. If you baby’s not showing any sign of arriving around her due date, there are some old wives' tales that might help to encourage labour naturally or there are medical procedures such as a membrane sweep and medication which can bring on labour. Failing that, you may be induced. Once labour begins, there are methods to increase the speed of it if it's talking too long, and you will be carefully monitored throughout.

If doctors are at all concerned about the health and safety of you or your baby, they may perform an emergency caesarean. Though this might not be in your birth plan, it may be the safest option for both of you. Talk to other mums and your midwive about your birth plan, alternatives and what to expect.

What if I tear?

Sometimes the strain of pushing out the baby, or of the baby’s head passing though the birth canal and into the world can cause your perineum to tear. It sounds nasty and may require a few stiches, but in the drama of birth, you’re unlikely to notice the pain at the time. After birth the stitches may be sore but they will heal as your body gets back to normal. In some cases, though this is less common today, your doctor may perform an episiotomy reduce the chance of tearing and give the baby less resistance.

How  much is it going to hurt?

Labour feels different to everyone. You hear stories of mums who go to the toilet and come out with a baby, while others go through a long, drawn out birth. Of course childbirth is painful but, cliché as it sounds, as soon as you’re holding your baby in your arms, you’ll forget all about it. Contractions can be painful, feeling initially like a cramp across your bump and later more powerful to push the baby out. Some mums described the moment your baby’s head crowns, as feeling like a burning sensation. Talk to your midwive about pain relief options and alternative therapies that can help manage the pain.

Will I poo in labour?

You may well poo in labour. All your efforts are concentrated on pushing your baby out of your body and an unpleasant and rather common side effect is losing control of your bowels. Though it sounds awful now, it’s really not a big deal when it comes to labour. Your midwife has seen it all before and will discretely clean it away before anyone can notice. It also is a sign that you are pushing effectively so try to not to worry about it.

What if I need a caesarean?

If you need a caesarean, then you’ll have one. It can be disappointing and upsetting if you’re dead set on a natural birth but if it’s medically necessary for the health of you or your baby, you will be given an emergency caesarean. And it will be OK!

What if I want pain relief but it’s too late?

An epidural can be delivered at any stage in labour, right up until your baby crowns and usually once your cervix is at least 4cm dilated. If your baby is coming fast and you are close to crowning, your medical team may not be happy to fit an epidural, especially as it takes around 15 minutes to work. In these cases you may choose to have gas and air or other pain killing drugs.

More info on giving birth

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