The start of childbirth
Childbirth can start in two different ways: with contractions or when the waters break.
Most births (90%) begin with contractions. These are contractions of the womb that cause the cervix to dilate. In the beginning the contractions come at irregular intervals and are short. Many women describe this as menstrual pain. During these contractions you can talk, laugh and even go for a walk. They don’t feel nice but they don’t hurt very much yet. After a while the contractions will occur more often and last longer. You will also feel the contractions more and they will become more effective.
When your waters break
10% of all births begin with the breaking of the waters before there are any contractions. This usually happens at night. You notice this because you are suddenly losing fluids. Sometimes it is so much that you are certain that the waters have broken. But sometimes it is difficult to determine whether the fluid that you are losing is just fluid secretion, urine or amniotic fluid. The most important difference is that amniotic fluid keeps on dripping. You continue to lose fluid. If you are in doubt as to what it is, you should call us immediately on the mobile (o6) number.
What can you expect when your waters break?
If the waters break, a hormone is released that causes labour/contractions to begin. Usually contractions begin spontaneously within 24 hours after the breaking of the waters. (that happens in 75% of the cases). Sometimes it takes more time. Once the membranes have ruptured there is a small risk of infection in the womb. This is mainly for 24 hours after the waters break. That is why we will wait for spontaneous contractions to begin for 24 hours. However, if there are no contractions after 24 hours we will refer you to the obstetrician. The obstetrician will do various examinations after which he/she will decide together with you when to induce the birth. Sometimes they do this immediately, but if there are no signs of an infection they will wait one or two days more if this is what you wish. If the breaking of the waters was more than 24 hours ago you will always be attended by an obstetrician in a hospital.