Once you have reached 37 weeks it is normal for your baby to be born anytime form this moment forward, though most pregnancies may continue naturally for 42 weeks. Your estimated due date is exactly that, an estimation of one day within a normal five-week period that your baby may be born.
Labour is experienced differently by every woman and there is no one size fits all way to manage or progress through. You will experience contractions, or surges, and the aim of these are to thin your cervix, open your cervix and to build the muscle at the top of your uterus known as the fundus. As the labour continues, the cervix will continue to open, and the fundus muscle will get thicker and stronger to help move the baby downwards. Once your baby can move its head through the cervix you are fully dilated and the strong fundus muscle works with you to push your baby through your pelvis to life outside the womb.
Your contractions are designed to be spaced apart to allow muscle relaxation and that is very important as your cervix is a muscle and if you are constantly waiting for the next contraction or surge your cervix will be fighting to relax and open and your fundus muscle will take longer to thicken and strengthen. The best advice we can give you is that when you are not having a contraction or surge is to relax, laugh, snack, hydrate, dance - do whatever it is you can do to ignore when the next contraction or surge may start until it’s there and you cannot ignore it. When the contraction or surge is there, you do what you can to get through it so you can relax again, change positions, breathe deeply in and out, dance, sway - your body knows what to do, you just need to follow its cues.
When to call the midwife:
If you or your pēpi have a concern in pregnancy you will have discussed with your LMC when to be in contact when labour begins.
As a guide for a well healthy pregnancy at term:
· when contractions are 3-5 minutes apart and lasting a minute or longer from start to finish. If this is your first labour, then maybe after 2-3 hours of these regular contractions be in touch. Your subsequent labour may be quicker and after an hour of these regular contractions can be a good time to be in touch. There is no timeline that fits every labour, there is only what is right for you.
· DON’T TIME EVERY CONTRACTION - take 10 - 15 minutes every hour and time that. Labour is not about the clock, its only part of the process.
· if your waters break and they are green or brown tinged call straight away, if they are pink of clear note the time and call in the daytime provided you feel otherwise okay and have had normal baby movements in the past day.
· if you are concerned and the information cannot be found on this website or in your app
· trust your gut feelings, you know when you will no longer want to be at home, try to call your midwife approximately half an hour before you want to be at the hospital.
· if at any time you are contracting with an urge to poo with each contraction - call!
· remember there is no right or wrong time to be in touch with your midwife, there is only what is right for you.
· your mucous plug may come away at any time, this is not a sign of labour but a sign of your cervix preparing to labour anytime within the next 24 hours or two weeks.
· blood loss that is more than a wipe on toilet paper or where your vagina would sit on a pad.
· after talking with your midwife together you will decide whether it might be best to go to the hospital or continue to labour at home for awhile
Information your midwife will want to know - your midwife will want to talk with you on the phone rather than your support person to ensure together you can make the best decisions for you.
· When did your contractions begin and what are you needing to do when you get one?
· Have your waters broken, if so what time and what colour?
· How have movements been from baby?
· How you are feeling physically, e.g., no temperature or other sign of illness