Contraction of the muscles of the mother’s womb in order to expel the foetus .
When the baby is ready to be born and the birth is about to start the mother will have some of the following signs:
• ‘A show’; a plug of blood-stained mucus discharged through her vagina
• Her waters will break; the membranes which contain water and surround the baby rupture
• Contractions of the muscles in the wall of the uterus ; these become regular and strong and the intervals between contractions shorten (labour pains).
There are three stages involved in birth:
• Stage 1 – the cervix widens or dilates so that the baby’s head can pass through. The length of time for this stage can be anything from two to twenty-four hours. Most babies are born head first but in some cases the baby may come feet first in what is called a breech presentation.
• Stage 2 – the baby is pushed out by the mother. At this stage every time the uterus contracts the mother pushes very hard so that the baby can be born.
• Stage 3 – the placenta and membranes are pushed out. These are examined and checked. Pieces of placenta left in the womb can cause further blood loss.
Stages of labour