• Illustration of fetus head pushing on effacing cervix
    Dilation and Effacement
    First Stage of Labor
    For your baby to be born the cervix (comprised of firm muscle that forms a strong base at the bottom of the uterus) needs to stretch and soften so that it can open, or dilate, and your baby can pass out of the uterus and into the vagina. Toward t...
  • Delivery Complications
    Delivery Complications
    Labor Complications
    Premature labor The normal length of pregnancy is 37 to 42 weeks. A baby born before 37 weeks is called premature or preterm (see Premature Birth). Fetal distress During labor, the baby is monitored for signs of distress, which can indicate t...
  • Failure to Progress in Labor
    Failure to Progress
    Failure to Progress in Labor
    If your cervix is not dilating, or your baby is not descending, as quickly as expected during the first stage, your doctor will try to assess why this is and if something can be done. Usually, your doctor will assess the three P's: The passenger...
  • Pregnancy
    The Hospital Stay
    Neonatal Intensive Care Babies
    There are many reasons why your baby may need special care, the most common one being prematurity (being born before 37 weeks). Babies may need to spend days, weeks, or sometimes months in a NICU until they are big enough and well enough to go ho...
  • Pregnancy
    Assisted Birth
    Possible Complications of an Assisted Birth
    In the majority of cases, both the mother and baby are perfectly well after an assisted birth, but occasionally complications are encountered.Problems during the deliveryA condition known as shoulder dystocia, in which the baby's shoulders become...
  • Risks and Types of C-Sections
    C-Sections
    Cesarean Sections
    A cesarean section is the delivery of your baby by means of a cut in the abdomen. A cesarean rate of around 10-15 percent is thought to be reasonable, although in most Western countries the rate has risen beyond 20 percent and around 30 percent o...
  • Pregnancy
    Signs and Stages of Labor
    The Stages of Labor
    The Stages of Labor What is real labor like? Ask 50 women and you'll get 50 different stories. It's a unique, wonderful, terrifying, thrilling, difficult, easy, fast, unforgettable experience that will bring your baby into the world one way or a...
  • Book Finder
    Book Finder
    Book Finder
    Find our top picks for the best books of the year!
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  • What to Expect in the First 12 Hours After You Deliver
    Recovery
    Meeting Your Baby and Recovering: The First 12 Hours
    Of course your experiences will depend on your labor and birth and local procedures, but here is what usually occurs in your first 12 hours after birth.1-2 hoursAs long as he is well, your baby can be placed in your arms, and you can cuddle him a...
  • Pros and Cons of Assisted Birth
    Assisted Birth
    Assisted Birth
    An assisted birth is a birth in which either forceps or a vacuum suction cup (also called a vacuum or ventouse extractor) are used to aid a vaginal delivery. There may be some mild side effects such as bruising after an assisted birth, but major ...
  • Ways of Inducing Labor
    Induction of Labor
    Induction of Labor
    An induction may be offered if it's felt that continuing the pregnancy poses a risk to your health or to the health of your baby. The most common reason for an induction is the continuation of a pregnancy beyond 41 or 42 weeks, in which case the ...
  • ultrasound of human fetus 38 weeks and 5 days
    Week 39 of Pregnancy
    You are 38 Weeks and 5 Days Pregnant
    Your baby todayIn many ways you will be the best judge of the likely size of your baby, especially if you can compare it with a previous pregnancy. An ultrasound scan can estimate the weight, but as with all other measurements at this time it has...
  • Pregnancy
    Breech Delivery
    Breech Baby
    Breech labors and births are usually more difficult, so if your baby is still in a breech position in late pregnancy, you may be offered a procedure to turn your baby.Turning your babyThe procedure to turn your baby, external cephalic version (EC...
  • Water Birth Experience
    Water Births
    Birth Story: Water Birth
    Becky is a 22-year old woman in her first pregnancy. She'd had no problems and at her 36 week appointment, she discussed her birth plan and told her doctor that she wanted a water birth at the local birth center.Becky's birth story: By the time I...
  • Pregnancy
    Third Stage - Delivering the Placenta
    The Third Stage of Labor: After Your Baby is Born
    The third stageThis is from the birth of your baby until the delivery of the membranes (the amniotic bag that surrounded your baby) and placenta. The placenta can be actively managed with the help of drugs or delivered without drugs, known as pas...
  • overdue pregnant woman
    Labor and Delivery
    What to Do When You're Overdue
    You're 41 long weeks into your pregnancy, and your baby has still not made his or her arrival into the world yet. You're tired, bloated and so ready for this baby to come out, so what's the hold up? Why haven't you gone into labor yet? While ...
  • Baby Name Finder
    Baby Names
    Baby Name Finder
    Search names and meanings in our Baby Name center.
    familyeducation editors
  • Pregnancy
    Apgar Score
    What Is the Apgar Score?
    At 1, 5, and 10 minutes, your baby's breathing, pulse, movements, skin color, and responses are assessed. In South Asian and black babies, the color of the mouth, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet are checked. Each is given a score betwee...