Usually, childbirth occurs sometime between the 37th and 42nd week of pregnancy. Childbirth can start in 2 ways, with contractions or your water breaking. Always call us immediately if you have contractions or if your water breaks if you are less than 37 weeks pregnant!
In order for us not to be unnecessarily disturbed by phone calls while we are assisting in childbirths, we ask you to only call the emergency number +31 6-46272220 in the situations we described above. At night, the obstetrician on duty will probably be sleeping. Consider if your question can wait until our assistant is available, and if so, wait until you can ask her. If necessary, she will refer you to the obstetrician.
When childbirth starts with contractions...
Contractions occur when the uterus contracts at a certain frequency. During contractions the belly becomes hard, and it will relax again once the contraction has passed. Contractions result in dilation of your cervix. If it is your first child, childbirth will usually take 12 hours, from the first contraction until birth. That is why you should take your time to feel how frequent the contractions are before calling us. Because sometimes the contractions you seem to feel are not real contractions, only the baby moving or “practice” contractions, and they will stop after one or two hours. You can tell that they are real contractions if they become more and more frequent; the uterus will stay hard for longer periods at a time and the contractions will become more painful. Finally, the contractions will occur every 3 to 5 minutes.
If you are going to give birth to your first child, we want to ask you to call us if you have contractions every 3 minutes for one hour, with the contraction being very painful and lasting 60 seconds.
Your next childbirth may go faster. So if you are going to give birth to your 2nd child and onwards, we would like you to call us if you have contractions every 5 minutes for one hour, with the contraction being very painful and lasting 60 seconds.
- Mucus clot: losing mucus, sometimes mixed with some red or brown blood, is not an indicator that childbirth is about to start, this may take days or sometimes even week.
- Hard belly/pre-contractions: these contractions are irregular and not very painful, but they feel uncomfortable. It is not a sign that the birth has started. Stabbing pains low in the belly or a menstruation-like feeling are also normal.
When childbirth starts with your water breaking...
About 10-20% of childbirths start with the water breaking. Usually, contractions will start up automatically after the water has broken. When the baby’s head is in position and the amniotic fluid is clear, we will wait for the contractions to start. First, make sure that it is amniotic fluid is not urine or vaginal discharge. Amniotic fluid has no colour or smell. It may contain some small white flakes or a little bit of blood. Usually, the first bit comes with in a considerable quantity, and it will keep coming in small amounts when you move or change position. Try to catch some or save a wet sanitary towel.
Always call us if your water breaks during the day.
If your water breaks at night, wait to call us until you have contractions every 5 minutes. If you still do not have any contractions in the morning, you can call us between 9.30 and 10.30. We will receive you for a check-up.
Call right away, no matter what time it is:
- If the water is green or brown.
- If the head of the baby is not in position (we will talk about this during your consultation).
- If your temperature is higher than 37.8 °C.
- If you are not 37 weeks pregnant yet.
Good to know!
If your childbirth starts with your water breaking but you have no contractions yet, it is a matter of waiting for the contractions to start. It is important to take your temperature in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening, or if you think you may have a fever. The temperature must be measured rectally. If your temperature is higher than 37.8 °C, always call us right away. If you still do not have any contractions 24 hours after your water has broken, go to the hospital for an examination. From that moment, the gynaecologist will be in charge of your care. If the examinations show positive results for you and your baby, they will wait for a maximum of 72 hours before starting to trigger contractions.
Call the EMERGENCY NUMBER +31 6-46272220 right away in the following cases:
- You are more than 28 weeks pregnant and you feel your baby moving less than normal or not at all.
- You have intense pain (high) in the belly or a headache.
- You are losing a lot of blood (more than during your menstruation).
- You are not 37 weeks pregnant yet and you are having contractions or losing amniotic fluid.
- Your water broke and the head of your baby is not in the right position yet (we will talk about this during your consultation).
- Your water broke and your temperature is higher than 37.8 °C.
- The amniotic fluid is not clear, but green or brown.
- You have a strong urge to push.
- You are very worried for any reason.
PLEASE NOTE: if we have given you a different calling advice for any reason, of course that advice applies.