Top 5 questions answered…
The top 5 questions I get asked as a midwife answered!
1. ‘What do real contractions feel like? And when should I go to hospital?
Labour can start at any time, but is considered ‘full term’ when you are past 37 weeks. Contractions tend to start very sporadically, and may be period pains, back pain, or you may just feel a bit ‘off’ and sick. These then gradually become more regular over time, until you notice that there is a pattern to them (ie. Every hour). If this is your first baby then going into labour can take days… and yes I mean days. And they can start and stop over that time. Eventually, they will become closer together, and start becoming much more regular – cue the contractions timer app on your phone! They then will become longer and stronger, you will realise you won’t be able to talk through the contractions any longer and they will be lasting anywhere from 40-60 seconds. When you are timing them every 3-4 minutes, and they are lasting 40-60 seconds, and you are having to breathe through the contractions then you can pretty much guarantee that you are going into active labour! So, when do you go to hospital? We advise to wait at least an hour into these regular contractions, and if you can manage two hours then great!
2. ‘Can I exercise during pregnancy?’
Absolutely! Regular exercise has lots of benefits such as improving your posture, strengthening your body for labour, reducing backache, reducing stress and boosting your energy levels. If you were active before you became pregnant then continue at a level that is comfortable for you. If you weren’t doing any exercise then don’t start anything strenuous – something like pregnancy yoga or even long walks is great.
3. ‘How do I know if I’ve broken my waters?’
Your waters can break at any stage – they don’t necessarily break before labour starts. If you suspect that they have broken, make a note of the time, put a pad in your underwear and observe for any loss. If the pad is becoming wet then call your doctor and you will need a check-up. The timing is important so note it down.
4. ‘My baby is moving, but not as much as usual – what should I do?’
Call your doctor. This is something I am hugely passionate about: it is really important to keep an eye on babies’ movements. Please do not rely on home dopplers for reassurance – they do not give you any indication on whether baby is well or not, just that it is alive (and you may even be picking up your heartbeat not your baby’s).
5. ‘I gave birth a few weeks ago and am leaking urine when I cough. Can this be fixed?’
I can’t stress enough the importance of doing your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you can after birth – which is why Beloved Bumps includes a pre-and postnatal fitness class in the course. Think of an activity that you do every day – breastfeeding, making a cup of tea, eating breakfast – and do them at this time. This will strengthen your bladder muscles and improve bladder control.