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Dad’s cheat sheet: Labour and delivery

A big number of fathers are not aware of exactly what happens during labour and delivery. Sure, they know where the baby is coming out from — but there’s a little bit more to it than that. Mum will be mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted — perhaps more so than she has ever been up to that point. Dad’s job is to look after and support his wife during this critical time, so he should really know what’s going on. So before you head into the delivery room, here’s a cheat sheet to labour and delivery.

Labour

In most of the healthy pregnancies, labour starts naturally between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy period. When the process of labour starts, a number of changes take place in mum’s body. The neck of the womb, commonly known as cervix in medical language, shortens and softens in the period of labour and delivery. All that labour pain she’s in from her contractions? That’s her body preparing itself to allow the baby to come out.

Go ahead and measure out 10 cm, dads. It’s not that much — so you should understand how difficult it is to push a full-sized baby out of that! Sometimes when the baby is just doesn’t want to come out, doctors will want to induce labour with drugs. Sometimes they’ll manually break the water to help get things started. These are all things you should know about beforehand, so you know exactly what’s going on.

There are also two ways of delivering your baby – Natural delivery or C-section.

Vaginal delivery

Most women who go through a healthy pregnancy will usually opt for a vaginal delivery. In this kind of birth process, the baby comes out through mum’s birth canal. “Babies born via a natural delivery obtain good protective bacteria (known as probiotics) from the mother’s birth canal. Thus, the risk of getting allergies and wet lung conditions is low. This helps to build a stronger level of immunity for the child,” shares Dr. Ang Huai Yan, Gynaecologist and Obstetrician Expert at Gleneagles Hospital.

For vaginal deliveries, Mum’s cervix has to be dilated 10 cm before the doctor will instruct her to begin pushing. It could take hours or minutes to get to this point — you won’t know until you’re there. For mothers who are scared of the pain associated with vaginal deliveries, there are various pain relief options available.

C-section

C-section is the common abbreviation of “Caesarean Section.” It is a surgical process in which the baby is born through a cut that doctor makes in the womb and belly of the mother. Some women opt to schedule C-sections in advance as their delivery of choice. It could be because the doctor recommended it for certain safety precautions or because she chose it.  In other circumstances a Doctor may recommend a C-section as a response to an unforseen complication. It’s not the “easy” decision as recovering from a C-section is painful in its own, as it is major surgery.  “A C-section requires a longer healing process for the mother in comparison to recovery from a natural delivery. An exact amount of time cannot be tied to either delivery as this varies from one mother to another, but the normal healing time for a C-section is estimated at one month,” adds  Dr. Ang Huai Yan.

Epidural

Epidural is the most popular way of pain relief during the process of labour. You will discover a big number of mums requesting for an epidural by name to relieve their pain in the process of labour and delivery. Latest statistics tell us that more than 50 percent of the women use the method of epidural anesthesia in delivery room. Epidurals are only available at certain times of labour. If your wife’s labour is moving along very quickly, she might not be eligible for an epidural. She can only be given so many drugs, so she may decide to wait on getting it until her contractions are almost unbearable. Whatever she chooses, be supportive!

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