If you have had a normal, healthy pregnancy with no problems so far, the midwife will listen to your baby's heartbeat using a Sonicaid. This is the small, hand-held machine the midwife or doctor used to listen to the baby during your pregnancy.
Cardiotocograph (CTG) or Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM)
Sometimes CTG or EFM is used to monitor your baby's heartbeat continuously. The machine also records when you are having contractions. This means you'll need to wear two belts around your bump to hold the monitoring devices in place.
In some hospitals, you might be able to move around with the belts on or use a wireless monitoring system (telemetry).
Fetal blood sampling (FBS)
If the midwife or doctors are worried about your baby's heartbeat from looking at the CTG, they may do an FBS test as well. This shows how your baby is doing more accurately than just the CTG.
A small amount of blood is taken from your baby's scalp, via your vagina, to check the oxygen levels. If the oxygen levels are low, the medical team may suggest a caesarean.
Fetal scalp electrode (FSE)
An FSE is a small electrode that is attached to your baby's scalp. It is sometimes used with the CTG machine if the belts on your tummy don't pick up her heartbeat properly. The FSE is harmless, but it's harder to move around with it in place.
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.
Your waters can break before you go in to hospital but they are more likely to break during labour, or they can even be broken for you by your midwife to speed up your labour (a process known as artificial rupture of membranes).
Manage your anxieties about giving birth, with some helpful advice from mums who’ve been there.
The final few weeks of pregnancy can be difficult: You’re probably feeling impatient to meet your baby, nervous about labour and also tired of coping with carrying a heavy load - and all the niggles that come with it.
The membrane sweep is a drug-free way of helping to bring on labour when you are going past your due date.
The moment has arrived. Your contractions are regular and building up, and your baby is really on his or her way…
Typical signs that your body is getting ready for labour.
The waiting game. It can be torturous. Your due date has been and gone, you feel the size of a mothership and you’re oh so tired of waddling to the loo every five minutes.
There are quite a few pain-relief options available and it’s good to know what they are before you go into labour.
Even if labour has got off to a good start, it can sometimes slow down or problems may arise. If so, you may need some help to deliver your baby safely. These procedures are called ‘interventions’.
A caesarean section is an operation where an obstetrician makes a cut in your stomach and womb and lifts your baby out through it.
In most pregnancies, labour will start on its own but in some situations your labour may need to be started artificially. This is called 'induction’ of labour.
- NICE (2014) CG 190 Intrapartum care: care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/chapter/1-recommendations#third-stage-of-labour:1.10.8
ℹLast reviewed on September 2nd, 2016. Next review date September 2nd, 2016.