​Labour and Delivery


Labour is the process of childbirth in which a baby is born. During this, the mother experiences contractions in her uterus which open her cervix for delivery, and move the baby into position to be born.

Though each labour is different, there are three stages in the process:

  1. First Stage – This is the longest phase of the labour process and can last from a few hours to a few days. During this phase the uterus starts to contract and relax, helping the cervix to open (dilate) for delivery. These movements of the uterus, called the contractions, are irregular at the beginning, and cause discomfort. Latter contractions are stronger, and come more regularly, and cause moderate to intense pain. At the end of this phase, if there are no complications, the baby is in the position to be born.

  2. Second Stage – During this stage, the mother’s cervix is completely dilated and she pushes the baby out. This stage can last from few minutes to several hours, till the baby is born.

  3. Third Stage – This stage is after birth, when the woman continues to experience contractions, to push out the placenta – a temporary organ that is formed in the uterus to nourish the baby during pregnancy.

The following signs and symptoms can indicate a woman is going into labour, especially, if she is close to her estimated delivery date. However, these symptoms should not be ignored at any point during her pregnancy.

  • Contractions

  • Back or lower abdomen pain, like experienced during periods

  • Ruptured membranes, also called water breaking

  • Bloody show - a brownish or blood-tinged mucus discharge

  • Upset stomach

  • Disrupted sleep

  • Anxiety or emotional restlessness

Watch out for Braxton-Hicks contractions. These are a false labour sign that may be experienced weeks or even months before the actual time for giving birth to your baby.

How can you differentiate Braxton-Hicks contractions from true labour? 

The false cramps are usually felt as painless tightening of your belly that happens irregularly and do not increase in intensity. Braxton-Hicks contractions can be eased by resting or shifting the body’s position.

For a safe delivery, it is pertinent that once labour symptoms are felt, the expectant mother be brought under the care of Women’s Health Care Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Once you are at the hospital, your doctor and the medical team will ask you questions and give you a pelvic exam, to check for dilation and your stage of labour. During this time, they will closely monitor you and ensure that your labour is as comfortable as possible. A few blood tests may also be conducted as standard baseline investigations to gauge your condition, and you may also undergo an ultrasound if required. Your baby’s heartbeat and your contractions will be monitored as needed during your labour.

During the course of your pregnancy, and as you approach your due date, your physician and the team, will give you instructions on how to prepare for labour and delivery. It can be a painful process, but your medical team will discuss pain management options with you. If you wish to request an epidural (a painkiller injected into the spine to minimize birthing pains), your physician will evaluate your condition to decide if you can be a suitable candidate.

At The Aga Khan University Hospital you will also be given the option to choose the centralized Entonox service as a method to provide pain relief during labour. Entonox is a ready-to-use medical gas mixture consisting of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen. This is a short-term pain relief method that does not cause unconsciousness. It can also help reduce patient anxiety and is eliminated from the body quickly.

At times, labour does not proceed as expected and medical or surgical intervention is needed. Your physician and the medical team will be well trained, and well equipped to handle such emergencies, and give you, and your baby, the best possible medical care under these conditions.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

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The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.