Childbirth occurs in the second stage of labour, when your cervix has fully dilated and the baby is ready to exit through the vaginal canal.
Some women need to have or opt for a caesarean, which you might also hear called a c-section. You should seek medical advice about this in the leadup to your due date. Bear in mind, however, that things can change rapidly as childbirth approaches, and with this so can your birth plan.
Because the symptoms of labour can be hard to recognise, if you suspect you might be ready for childbirth you should call your midwife or hospital. They can guide you through what you’re experiencing, which will help calm any nerves.
When the baby is ready, you will feel an urge to push to assist the baby’s passage. Childbirth can be messy, and there is a lot of fluid and discharge involved. You may also defecate involuntarily, but don’t worry: doctors, nurses and midwives have seen it all!
Focusing on breathing and the rhythmic contractions is important and will help you manage the process. Many women associate a stretching, burning sensation with childbirth, and you may be offered or opt for pain relief to ease the experience. This choice will lie entirely with you, and your childbirth team will be there to support you through the process.
After childbirth, you’ll be able to hold your baby for a short while before they are cleaned up. They will receive any special medical attention they need and then brought back to you to begin feeding and to start their life as the newest addition to your family.