Labour & birth

Most women worry about how they will cope with the pain of labour and birth. You may worry too, especially if it is your first baby and you do not know what to expect.

  • A photo of a woman just after she's given birth with her newborn baby on her chest and stomach having skin to skin contact

    Delayed cord clamping (DCC)

    Cutting the cord immediately after the birth has been routine practice for 50-60 years but more recently research is showing that it is not good for the baby.

  • Pregnant woman holding her back.

    What to expect when your waters break

    If your waters break naturally, you may feel a slow trickle or a sudden gush of fluid that you can’t stop. Your waters may break before you go to hospital but are more likely to break during labour.

  • caesarean section

    C-sections - everything you need to know

    What is a c-section? What are elective versus emergency c-sections and who decides if you need one? Find out everything you need to know here.

Labour & birth topics

  • caesarean section

    C-sections - everything you need to know

    What is a c-section? What are elective versus emergency c-sections and who decides if you need one? Find out everything you need to know here.

  • Happy mum and partner with newborn baby.

    The stages of labour

    Your labour has three stages, from the first twinges to delivering the placenta.

  • Woman holding her back in discomfort.

    Symptoms of labour

    From contractions to your waters breaking, these are the typical signs that your body is getting ready for labour.

  • A happy mother with her newborn baby.

    Making your birth plan

    A birth plan is a written record of what you would like to happen during your labour and after the birth. It can also include things you’d like to avoid.

  • The letters FAQ written on black chalkboard.

    Labour and birth frequently asked questions

    In this section we look at the most frequently asked questions we get asked about labour and birth.

  • Woman in labour sitting on chair.

    Movement and positions during labour

    If you can, listen to your body and try to keep moving during the first stage of labour. If you move around you are less likely to be tense.

  • Pregnant woman holding her back.

    4 ways your body gets ready for labour

    At the end of your pregnancy, you may have some signs that your baby will arrive very soon, even though you may not go into labour for a little while yet.

  • Pregnant woman in a yoga class

    5 positive ways to prepare for labour

    If you’re feeling a bit anxious about giving birth, there are things you can do that may help. Here’s some helpful advice from mums who’ve been there.

  • Woman lying in hospital bed ready to give birth.

    Assisted birth

    An assisted vaginal birth is where the doctor uses special instruments to help deliver the baby during the last stage of labour.

  • Pregnant woman holding her back.

    Braxton Hicks

    Braxton Hicks contractions are the body’s way of preparing for labour, but if you have them it doesn’t mean your labour has started. Here, we explain more about Braxton Hicks.

  • A photo of a woman just after she's given birth with her newborn baby on her chest and stomach having skin to skin contact

    Delayed cord clamping (DCC)

    Cutting the cord immediately after the birth has been routine practice for 50-60 years but more recently research is showing that it is not good for the baby.

  • Pregnant woman sitting on exercise mat.

    Getting your baby into the best birth position

    The ideal position for your baby to be in for labour and birth is head down, their back towards the front of your stomach.

  • Heavily pregnant woman.

    How will I know when labour has started?

    This is a common worry for first-time mums, but there are some signs that labour may be starting.

  • Woman in labour.

    Monitoring your baby in labour

    Your midwife will check on how your baby is coping during your labour. There are different ways to do this.

  • Woman packing bag for labour.

    Packing your bag for labour and birth

    As you reach the end of your pregnancy, it's time to get ready for when your baby arrives. That includes packing your hospital bag.

  • Heavily pregnant woman sat at home with soft lighting looking down at her bump with a neutral expression

    The latent phase of labour

    This part of labour can sometimes last a long time. This page explains what the latent phase of labour is and how to get through it as comfortably as possible.

  • Pregnant woman holding her back.

    What to expect when your waters break

    If your waters break naturally, you may feel a slow trickle or a sudden gush of fluid that you can’t stop. Your waters may break before you go to hospital but are more likely to break during labour.

  • Woman having water birth.

    Where can I give birth?

    Choosing where to have your baby is a big decision. You and your midwife will probably talk about it at your booking appointment.

  • Pregnant woman being checked over by doctor.

    What is a membrane sweep?

    The membrane sweep is a drug-free way of helping to bring on labour when you are going past your due date.

  • Woman in hospital bed ready to give birth.

    What to do when labour starts

    You can call your midwife or hospital straight away if you think you’re in labour. You will usually be assessed over the phone.

  • Woman in labour wearing gas and air breathing mask.

    Pain relief in labour and birth

    Labour can be painful, but there are different pain relief options available that you may find helpful. It’s good to know what they are before you go into labour.

  • Woman lying on hospital bed ready to give birth.

    Inducing labour

    Labour usually starts naturally on its own, but sometimes it needs to be started artificially. This is called induced labour.

  • Mum and newborn baby.

    After the birth

    Bringing your baby home for the first time can be emotional, exciting and a bit intimidating. Knowing a little bit about what to expect and who will be there to support you can help.

in Pregnancy information

Last reviewed on April 1st, 2015. Next review date April 1st, 2018.