Childbirth in steps
Dilation corresponds to the opening of the cervix of the uterus and is linked to the intensity and regularity of uterine contractions. It is slow at the beginning of labour and then speeds up as the contractions become regular, close together and painful. The cervix dilates from 0 to 10 centimetres. The latter measurement corresponds to full dilation, allowing the baby’s head to exit the uterus.
2. The progression of labour
The midwife checks how dilation is progressing every hour. In addition, the monitor may remain connected to check that your baby is coping well with the uterine contractions (depending on the maternity hospital).If everything is going well for you and your baby, you have the choice of managing your contractions as you learned in the birth and parenthood preparation classes or of asking for an epidural.On your arrival to the delivery room, the midwife puts you on a drip, which supplies you with glucose for energy.At the end of labour, the midwife ensures that your baby’s head is fully engaged in your pelvis and that dilation is complete: these are in fact the two indispensible conditions for natural childbirth.
3. Waters breaking
Your waters break of their own accord at the beginning of or during labour. As soon as your waters break, come to the maternity hospital as quickly as possible (do not take a bath and come on an empty stomach if possible).The midwife may also break the membrane artificially to speed up labour.
4. Directed childbirth
In certain cases, the midwife may have recourse to oxytocics (via perfusion) to increase the frequency and intensity of contractions.
5. An epidural
An epidural is a medical means that may be offered to you by your midwife or doctor to ease childbirth. You can also ask for one if you are no longer able to stand the pain.
The epidural is administered by an anaesthetist. This is not painful because a local anaesthetic will be given beforehand. To make the administration of the epidural easier, the anaesthetist will ask you to sit on the edge of the bed and arch your back or to lie on your side.He then introduces an anaesthetic product between the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae.The catheter is linked to a syringe placed in a pump. The delivery of the product may be controlled by you, according to the pain felt, or be programmed for gradual diffusion.