PREPARING FOR DELIVERY

Childbirth Preparation Lessons

You may also be interested in taking childbirth preparation classes, which teach coping methods for labour and delivery, and helps guide new parents in the many decisions they will make before and during the birth process.

Packing for Your Hospital Stay

Most women who deliver naturally or by C-section usually need similar packing bag.

Be sure to pack a bag with

  • Enough comfortable clothes for your hospital stay

  • Pack shirts and tops that have zip or buttoned fronts if you plan to try breastfeeding.

  • Look for soft clothes with loose elastic or adjustable waistbands,

  • Warm socks, and

  • Even a couple of zippered sweatshirts or cardigan sweaters for those cool hospital rooms.

  • Include toiletries such as toothpaste and toothbrush, lotion, brush, makeup, and soap.

  • Nice-smelling bath soap,

  • Your favourite lip gloss,

  • Brand new slippers, or

  • Extra special hand cream can provide just the pick-me-up you may need while recovering from your surgery.

YOUR DUE DATE AND LABOUR DAY

Labour may start at full term or sometimes preterm.

Your labour may start by having irregular contraction that may pick up in duration and intensity. This is the time when you need to call the labour ward at the Mater Hospital.

CALL  07-3163-7000.

You may have

  • Gush of fluid (ruptured membranes),

  • This sometimes can precede contractions,

Please ring the labour ward and proceed to hospital.

Dr Alexander prefers you to be in hospital for further assessment and management as needed, as there is increased risk of infection.

Recognising Labour

It is important to recognise the signs of labour so that you will know when you are experiencing the “real thing.”

If this is your first baby, you will most likely experience lightening (the descent of the baby’s head into your pelvis) sooner than women who have already had other children.

Typically, the signs of labour include

  • Uterine contractions,

  • Tightening of your stomach, and

  • Cramps in your low back.

About two thirds of women experience these tightening before their waters break. About one third will notice fluid leaking out first.

If you are unsure about what is happening, don’t forget that the Mater Mothers’ Private Midwives are available 24 hours a day on 3163 7000 to answer any questions.

Types of Labour - Preterm Labour

Preterm labour is said to have occurred when you have strong contractions before 37 weeks of your pregnancy whereas the gestation period normally is 38 to 40 weeks. A baby, if born prematurely, will be at risk of complications such as immature lungs, respiratory distress, and problems in digestion as the organ systems would not have developed completely to support survival.

Dr Alexander will manage this situation with medications that stop labour or prevent infection. Also, medications that accelerate the baby's lung development may be given. You will be advised to take bed rest, usually lying on the left side.

Health problems of Preterm Labour

The longer the baby is in the mother's womb, the more likely he or she will be healthy. Early preterm babies may have respiratory and digestive problems. They are also at a higher risk of brain and related neurological complications.

Treatment

Treatment is provided in the form of medications. Corticosteroid injections are given to speed the development of your baby's lungs and other organs. A delivery date can be extended by 2 to 7 days with drugs called tocolytics that work to slow or stop contractions of the uterus. The extra time gained can be used to take corticosteroids or to get to a hospital specialising in preterm care for babies.

Women at risk

Some women deliver an early premature baby for no apparent reason. However, certain factors may increase a woman's risk of early preterm birth. Some of them include lifestyle risks (for example: smoking, drinking), a woman pregnant with multiples, chronic illnesses and a short time between pregnancies.

Prolonged labour

Some women most often during their first pregnancy may go through a labour that lasts for too long. Prolonged labour may lead to infection in case the amniotic sac has ruptured. Anti-infective medications may be administered to prevent infection.

Abnormal Presentation

During labour, normally the baby moves to a head-down position with back of the head ready to enter the pelvis. Sometimes, the baby may present with buttocks or feet first towards the birth canal. This is called breech presentation. In some conditions, the placenta may block the cervix (placenta praevia) and cause abnormal presentation.

Abnormal presentation increases the risk of injuries to the uterus or birth canal as well as the foetus. Breech presentation may lead to a prolapsed umbilical cord that might cut off the blood supply to the foetus. Dr Alexander will check the presentation and position of the baby with physical examination and ultrasound scan. Assisted delivery methods may be adopted in such cases.

Premature Rupture of Membranes

Rupture of the membranes that surround the foetus in the uterus may occur prematurely leading to high risk of infection. In these cases, immediate delivery of the foetus will be done.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse

The umbilical cord, which transports oxygen and nutrition to the baby, may slip into the cervix before the baby during labour. The cord may be felt if it protrudes from the vagina. This is an emergency situation as the blood flow to the baby through the umbilical cord may get obstructed. Seek immediate attention of Dr Alexander.

Umbilical Cord Compression

The umbilical cord may get entangled and wrap around the baby several times during pregnancy, but sometimes during labour, the cord may get compressed leading to decreased blood flow to the foetus. This causes abrupt drop in the foetal heart rate. In cases where the foetal heart rate has worsened or there are signs of distress, Dr Alexander may consider a Caesarean section.

Amniotic Fluid Embolism

Amniotic fluid embolism occurs when a little amount of amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac gains entry into your bloodstream during a difficult labour. This fluid may travel up to the lungs and cause constriction of the lung arteries leading to a rapid heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, cardiac arrest and death. Blood clot formation throughout the body is a common complication and requires immediate care.