Childbirth generally takes place at the end of nine months of pregnancy. In most cases, the mother is helped by a midwife or obstetrician.
The fetus floats in the amniotic fluid. It is connected to the placenta by the umbilical cord.
Its position indicates that it is ready to be born: its head is facing down in its mother’s pelvis.
Childbirth begins with labor. This is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions of the uterine wall: the myometrium
At the beginning, the contractions come about every ten minutes. They are quite short.
Then both their frequency and duration progressively increase.
The fetus is pushed towards the bottom of the uterus where its head pushes down on the cervix.
Then the cervix shortens and begins to dilate.
Dilatation is completed when it has reached 10cm.
It is usually at this moment that the waters break.
The amniotic fluid leaks out.
Labour is over. It can last on average between 7 or 8 hours for a first birth.
The following step is the delivery of the fetus. It is much faster, about 30 minutes.
Contractions now come every 2 minutes. They last about one minute and are very intense.
However, the mother needs to help the fetus to move by voluntarily contracting her abdominal muscles.
The head of the fetus moves into the vagina and rotates at the same time.
It starts to come out and lifts up.
Then the midwife or the doctor grabs the baby by the head and turns it so that the first shoulder comes out (…) then the second one (…) and finally the whole body.
This is birth.
The umbilical cord is cut. On the baby’s stomach, the scar left by the umbilical cord will become the navel.
Giving birth is not quite over for the mother.
In fact, a few minutes after the delivery of the fetus, the contractions begin again.
Helped by the doctor, the mother delivers the placenta.