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.
Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management that can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques.
You might like to consider giving birth at home for a more relaxed experience in familiar surroundings. Find out whether this is the right option for you.
Are you thinking about having a water birth? Find out about the advantages and disadvantages of giving birth in the water, what to wear and what the pain relief options are.
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).
Braxton Hicks is the name given to the action when the womb contracts and tightens with your bump becoming hard to touch; it then relaxes again, becoming soft.
Manage your anxieties about giving birth, with some helpful advice from mums who’ve been there.
The ideal position for your baby to be in for labour and birth is head down, their back towards the front of your stomach.
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.
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…
From contractions to your waters breaking, these are the typical signs that your body is getting ready for 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.