Safe for you and safe for baby
Giving birth is a special and exciting time. We are there for you throughout your delivery so that you can maximise the positive experience of childbirth without compromising the safety of you or your baby.
Some women look forward to a vaginal delivery, while others prefer (or it’s safer for them to deliver by) caesarean section. It is important to discuss your preference with your obstetrician so that we can help you understand the implications of each form of delivery for your particular circumstances.
While there’s no requirement for you to do so, you may even have a preferred birth plan that details your ideal birth experience. Again, through discussing this with us, we can help you work towards achieving that experience, circumstances permitting.
Your delivery day
Few women deliver on their actual due date. There can be any number of reasons. Most of these are of absolutely no concern, and should certainly be no cause for alarm. In a small number of cases, there may be very good medical reasons to deliver your baby early, or even wait for a few more days.
If your labour does need to be brought on early (referred to as an induction), we will organise for you to check in to the hospital the night before your delivery, so that you can settle in to your room and be checked out by your nurse and midwife.
Regardless of your situation, we will always discuss your options with you and your partner or support person, and only deliver your baby when it is safest to do so.
Once you have checked in and settled, we will monitor things like your heart rate and blood pressure, and the general health of your baby.
Going into labour
Labour can start subtly, or it can start strongly. Most women report feeling a distinct change in their body and ‘just knowing’ that labour has begun. Labour typically lasts for around 14 hours, but there is a wide variation between women, and even between births for the same woman.
If you think that you’re going into labour—or even if you’re not absolutely sure—please call the Ashford Hospital Delivery Suite on 08 8375 5237 and they can assess your situation, organise your admission, and contact your obstetrician.
The first stage of labour
In some women, the first stage of labour is marked by a dilation of the cervix, without any noticeable contractions. Other women experience strong contractions without any change in their cervix. Typically though, the early phase involves a thinning and softening of the cervix, and a dilation of the cervix to three centimetres over a period of hours or days.
Contractions typically start mild and are somewhat irregular, occurring five minutes to 30 minutes apart, lasting from 30 seconds to 45 seconds. The “water” may “break” (membranes may rupture) in this early phase, but can also break later in the first or second stage, either on their own or with help from your obstetrician.
During the active phase, contractions become more regular and intense, with their frequency increasing to three minutes to five minutes apart. You will tend to experience a degree of pain in the lower back, abdomen, and legs—but don’t worry, this is all normal.
It is also completely normal to feel nervous as your body goes through these rapid changes in preparation for your delivery. Many women change position frequently, have a shower, or otherwise seek relief from the increasing discomfort. This can include administration of an epidural anaesthetic, as will have been discussed prior with your obstetrician.
The second stage of labour
The second stage of childbirth begins when the cervix is fully dilated, and typically lasts about half an hour to two hours for the first birth, and as little as a few minutes to two hours in subsequent births.
Once the cervix is fully dilated, and as contractions start to slow down, there is an overwhelming compulsion to push. As you begin pushing, you may start to feel breathless and fatigued. It’s hard work at this point!
As the baby’s head ‘crowns’ (as its widest point makes its way out), you may feel an intense pressure. You may be asked to change the intensity and or frequency of your pushing as the rest of your baby’s head and body emerge.
Don’t worry—we will guide you through every moment and help you find the best way to breathe and push. Follow our lead and let your body do its thing—this is a natural process, and we’ve been there hundreds of times.
Finally, your baby is born. Congratulations!
The third stage of labour
This incredible moment is followed by the somewhat less glamorous but still very important delivery of the placenta. This can take from a few minutes to half an hour, but with all the fuss going on around baby, many women tend to not notice this at all.
As the third stage ends and the joy of childbirth comes to a close, you’ll probably feel an overwhelming sense of tiredness and relief. Of course, the hospital staff will be there to help you rest, and to help your baby rest too.
Following your delivery, you will typically stay a few nights in hospital. Providing you and your baby are both doing well, you should be able to go home after four or five days.
Remember—an Adelaide Obstetrics & Fertility obstetrician is always on call, with another obstetrician backing them up.
If you have any concerns about the health of your baby or your delivery, please call Adelaide Obstetrics & Fertility (between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm Monday to Friday) on 08 8272 7755 or (outside of our office hours) the Ashford Hospital Delivery Suite on 08 8375 5237.