Labour and Delivery

By Dr. Ankita Chandna in Obstetrics And Gynaecology

Dec 26 , 2017 | 3 min read


Labour pain? Not an alien terminology for women who have gone through this. It might bring jitters when you think of the contractions you had faced to bring your bundle of joy in this world. When a baby’s due date is near, there are a mixed range of emotions one goes through. Every woman’s experience of giving birth is different and unique. Below are the typical guidelines that explain what to expect before and after the birth of a baby:

Q. What are the signs of labour and delivery?

Predicting when labour will begin is not possible, and the date given by doctor is merely a point of reference. Labour can start as early as three weeks or as late as two weeks from the date given by the doctor.

The signs and symptoms of impending labour are not uniform; however, the common ones are listed below:


This happens when the baby’s head drops down in the pelvis in preparation for delivery. It eases breathing and increases the need to urinate. This sign can occur a few week or hours before the onset of labour.

Mucus Plug (Bloody Show)

The release of mucus plug is another sign of labour. It comes out in the form of blood-tinged or brownish discharge from the cervix (Mouth of uterus):

Water Breaking (Ruptured Membranes)

Spontaneous rupturing of membranes leads to the fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina. This can occur hours before labour or even during the labour.


Labour begins with the start of contractions and usually occurs 10-20 minutes before the delivery.

Q. What are the stages of labour and delivery?

Labour is typically divided into three stages viz. dilation of the cervix, the birth of the baby, and the delivery of the placenta.

Stage 1

Step 1 is characterised by thinning and dilation of the cervix. The longest stage of labour, it is further divided into three phases viz. latent, active, and transition.

Stage 2

Stage 2 oversees the passage of the baby through the birth canal until final delivery. This phase occurs when the cervix is entirely dilated, and voluntary pushing is initiated. It is also known as the pushing state. This stage can take anywhere from few minutes to hours.

Stage 3

This final stage begins at a time when the baby is delivered. The placenta and foetal membranes are ejected. There might be bleeding and contractions during this stage. Stage 3 takes anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

Q. What are pain control options during labour and delivery?

Many women during labour and delivery opt out against receiving medications for pain. However, many choose medications and interventions to control pain during labour and delivery. There are many pain control options available during labour and delivery, but being calm and bear effectively and wait for the magic to happen are the best techniques. Women can also opt for regional anaesthesia which can be administered as a epidural or spinal-epidural block.

Q. What can you expect after childbirth?

There will be a noticeable change in the body just like the body went through changes before the birth. The changes can include the following:

Sore Breasts

Breasts may be hard and swollen for days due to lactation. It might even be painful for a couple of days before a new mother gets used to it.

Haemorrhoids(Also known as Piles)

Haemorrhoids are common after delivery. Don't Worry! They will usually go after delivery.

Faecal or Urinary Incontinence

Some women may leak urine because of stretched muscles, especially after a long labour. In some cases, it might be challenging to control bowel movements.

Lochia (Vaginal Discharge)

Just after giving birth, the body will experience a discharge of blood which is more substantial than a regular period. Over time the discharge will fade to yellow or white, which will eventually stop in a couple of months.

After Pains

After giving birth, a new mother may experience contractions for a few weeks before the uterus returns to the pre-pregnancy size.

Except for the physical changes, there will be a noticeable change in the mood. She may experience irritability and sadness which is often called as ‘baby blues’. This usually occurs because of hormonal changes and exhaustion. These will disappear with time.