The midwife will take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure and feel your abdomen to find out how the baby is lying and listen to the heartbeat. She will ask you what has been happening in the recent past and it will be helpful if you can tell us the timings of any contractions if you are having them, and details about your waters or a ‘show’, if this is relevant. She will ask you for a urine specimen. If the midwife needs to find out if labour is established or how it is progressing, an internal examination will be carried out. This tells a great deal about the state of your cervix (neck of the womb). Your partner can stay with you throughout all of these procedures.
As this is a large teaching hospital, there are other people who may be involved in your care. In addition to the midwives and doctors who work on this Unit, we have medical students and student midwives and occasionally, nursing students. You should always be introduced to all the people caring for you. Any students are properly supervised throughout their involvement with you. You are of course at liberty to refuse to be cared for by students and your care will not be affected. It is enormously helpful if you feel able to co-operate, students can be very helpful and knowledgeable. Please remember, students are supervised very closely.
Depending on the progress of your labour, one of two things may happen:
Women in early labour, who have no other problems like unexplained bleeding, will be invited to go home. Home is really the best place to spend the early part of your labour. We would encourage women to move around and use the bath, both these are good ways of dealing with the pain of early labour, wherever you are. You may want to eat small nutritious snacks to give you energy.
Women in established labour will be moved to one of the delivery rooms.
You may have noticed the section in your notes entitled ‘Birth Plan’. This is for you and your partner to fill in to record your wishes for labour and birth. This is a chance for you to express your concerns and opinions. Please tell the midwife caring for you if you have made a birth plan.