Frequently Asked Questions
How long will my labour be?
What does a contraction feel like?
I am afraid of having a long and painful labour. Should I have a caesarean birth?
What options do I have for pain relief during labour?
How do I know when I am in true labour?
Can I have a shower or bath while I am in labour?
What is fetal monitoring?
The length of labour varies greatly from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. A normal labour can be anywhere from three hours or less to days. The average length of time for a women giving birth for the first time is 10 to 14 hours once contractions are regular.What does a contraction feel like?
In the early first stage of labour, contractions may feel like mild cramps and last 20‑45 seconds. In the active first stage, contractions will be stronger and more uncomfortable. You may experience discomfort in your back and abdomen and pressure in your pelvis. The intensity of your contractions will progress as your labour progresses.I am afraid of having a long and painful labour. Should I have a caesarean birth?
Some people may think a caesarean birth is easier and less painful than a labour and vaginal birth. Caesarean births have risks. If you have a caesarean birth, you will have:
- a greater risk of infection
- a higher risk of complications to you and your baby from the anesthesia
- a longer hospital stay
- fewer support people with you at the birth
- a longer recovery time
- pain from the surgery
If you’re afraid of a long and painful labour, talk to your health care provider. You may want to consider having additional support during your labour and birth. This could be a doula, who can provide support to both you and your partner. Pain relief is available during labour if you need it.What options do I have for pain relief during labour?
For information about pain relief options, click here.How do I know when I am in true labour?
To find out about the differences between pre‑labour and true labour, click here.Can I have a shower or bath while I am in labour?
A shower or bath can be comforting during labour. It is best to postpone a bath until you are in active labour, unless you are tired. Baths may slow contractions temporarily when taken in early labour. Later in labour, having a bath is very helpful because it can help decrease the pain and increase your labour progress. Remember to drink lots of fluids when having a bath or shower.What is fetal monitoring?
During active labour, the fetal heart rate (your baby's heart rate) will be listened to every 15 to 30 minutes. This will tell your health care provider about the effects of the contractions on the fetal heart rate. This is done doing a hand held stethoscope called a Doppler. In the second stage, the fetal heart rate will be listened to every five minutes or after each contraction.
In some situations, there may be a need to monitor the fetal heart rate with a machine called an electronic fetal monitor. There are two types of electronic fetal monitoring:
- External: two sensors will be placed around your abdomen.
- Internal: a clip will be placed through the cervix onto the head of your baby.