Labour and birth webchat June 22nd

Join Jenny Smith, Senior Midwife at Queen Charlotte's maternity hospital, London, for a webchat about labour and birth. Jenny will be with us 12-1pm to answer your questions. Mum-of-four Jenny has won awards for her pioneering work with water births; her specialist fields include high-risk pregnancies and deliveries.


  • Hi jenny here.....
  • Jenny will be joining us shortly for today's webchat about labour and birth. Please feel free to start posting questions now and Jenny will answer as many as she can before 1pm.
    Web Ed Nicola
  • Hi Jenny
    I am 39 weeks today and feeling really impatient to get things moving!
    At last check, I was 2/5ths engaged (just over a week ago) and I want to know if there is anything other than eating fresh pineapple, having hot curry and lots of sex that I can try?!

    Thanks in desperation for any advice you can offer!
  • Hello Jenny,
    I had a placenta previa which only rectified itself at 32 weeks and as a result have had lots of bleeding throughout my entire pregnancy. i have been told my placenta is 35mm clear of the os so no longer a risk but my baby is still breech (i'm 34 weeks). my consultant wont risk turning him because of the bleeding i have had and he has been given until i am 36 weeks to move otherwise i will be having a section at 39 wks. What I wanted to know is could my baby still be breech because my placenta is still fairly low or could it be another reason? I am a little worried as my midwife mentioned some breech babies tend to have more problems and I read on the internet that this can include birth defects, etc. Is this true that breech babies can have more neurological problems, etc?
  • Hi everyone! It's a pleasure to be here with you all on the babyexpert chatroom. Very much looking forward to hearing your questions.
  • Dear Mrs Dickson, You have indeed got the recipe! Increase the sex and you could also ask your midwife to do a cervical sweep. This can encourage labour by releasing prostaglandin around the cervix.
  • Hi Jenny,
    I had a sweep this morning from my MW. She had a student with her who I've seen a few times and asked if I would mind if the student had a go at giving me a sweep first. I said that was fine as I thought they've all got to learn somewhere.
    She did an examination and then a sweep and while I wouldnt say it was painless it was fine. But then my MW had a go and from the minute she put her fingers in it was painful. She did a sweep and then when she pulled her hand out it was covered with bright red blood and I was bleeding everywhere, like a heavy period. She wrenched my legs open and just sat watching and said "um right ok it seems to be stopping now but keep an eye on it"
    I left really worried and have been bleeding since but its almost stopped now, its just brownish with a few red specks in. The baby has moved but is much quieter than usual.
    Is this normal??
    I was 50% effaced and 2cm dialated.
    Carly 37+3
  • Hi jenny,
    I'm 43 weeks pregnant now (!) and still no signs of labour. Cervix still too high/unripe to do a sweep (they've made three attempts). My first baby was an early C-section at 36weeks because of pre-eclampsia (no signs of labour). I've had no Braxton Hicks or anything to indicate labour is on its way. I am booked in for an induction on Friday: do I HAVE to have have one or would it be safe to hold on a bit longer? Scan last week showed no placental or foeatal problems. I would really like to have a VBAC if possible and am worried induction might make this less likely.
  • Dear alcott, so wonderful that you have got to this stage of pregnancy and that your placenta is now clear of the os. I agree with your consultant it would indeed be too risky to turn the baby incase more bleeding occured. Babies are breech for many reasons and most babies are completely healthy and well and have simply chosen to be in this position. You could try walking around on hands and knees head tilted towards the ground as this may encourage the baby to turn if the breech is not already stuck in the pelvis. Otherwise perhaps because the placenta is low the baby remains higher and breech. A cesarean section is probably the most sensible option at 39 weeks if the baby is still breech.
  • Dear Carly, during a sweep procedure the midwife inserts her finger into the neck of the womb and moves it around which strips the membranes from the wall of the womb and can also stretch the cervix causing a little capillary bleeding. At the time the bleeding should not be too heavy and indeed should settle down and become brownish quite quickly. My concern is that if you think your baby is now much quieter i would recommend that you go back to your hospital and have a cardio tocograph monitoring of your baby to check his/her wellbeing.
  • I'm just going to eat and drink as I havent managed to have anything yet today (10 month and 5 year old to look after!) to see if that helps but if I feel she is still quiet I will go when my husband gets in from work.
    Do you think the sweep will work?
  • Hi Jenny.

    Im 39 +1 and on Friday I had what felt like contractions every 25 minutes and they stopped after 5 hours. A friend on here suggested areola stimulation for an hour which I tried. I started to get tightenings and some period type pains which happened every few minutes. I am experiencing a tightening whilst typing this. Its uncomfortab;e but not really painful, just like a period pain.

    Are these contractions or just braxton hicks??
  • Dear franticmum, prolonging the pregnancy much longer may become a danger to the baby because the placenta grows much older and will not work as well. I think your baby is trying to tell you something as the cervix is high and not open. It may be difficult to induce you because of the previous scar in your uterus. Many hospitals would not use prostaglandin pessaries due to the risk of rupture. I think you need to re-discuss your situation with your consultant but my recommendation would be to have your baby very soon. I am very glad to hear that your scans have shown your baby is very healthy and well but i think you must keep an open mind that a caesarean section may be necessary.
  • Dear Carly, if the sweep works it will normally do so within 48 hours but you can have more then one. Try some sex and a glass of champagne after the sweep. I know how difficult it is when you have quite a few children to look after all at the same time!
  • Hello,

    Im 35 weeks pregnant with my second child. During my first delivery (which was over ten years ago) I had a very difficult labor with a very long pushing stage, I eventually needed forceps and a ventouse cap and my daughter was whisked off to be resusitated, She was 8lbs 7oz so big but not huge.

    Im aprehensive about giving birth this time and the baby has been measuring slightly bigger, do I now have a high chance of having an instrumental delivery again?

    Thanks, x
  • Thanks jenny,
    I'll make sure I get a session with the consultant to discuss my options asap. I must say I'm starting to get a bit fed up with being pregnant after 43 weeks of it now!
  • Dear mummyagain09, nipple stimulation can be helpful but i think more so when you are actually in labour than before. Second and subsequent labour can be quicker but can still have a slow buildup. This is called the latent phase and i have known women who have had little brewing up session to labour that then die off over a week or so. Don't worry! Enjoy the last few days. You won't miss labour when it happens and the contractions will at some point become strong and not mild periodlike pains. I think the ones you described sound like strong braxton hicks contractions. If you start holding on the wall and find yourself deep breathing and unable to speak then you know they have progressed to real contractions.
  • Thats great Jenny. Thank you. This is my 2nd pregnancy but I was induced before so I wasnt sure how labour would start off naturally.
  • Champagne??
    I have quite painful lower back ache and I feel like the head is very heavy. Sorry if this is more information that you need but my vagina is really achy.
  • Hi Jem27, the wonderful news is when you are having a second labour you are a completely different species to first time labouring women. Your first baby has opened all the passageways and normally second labours are much quicker and more efficient. I know you have had quite a long gap between babies which may make a slight different to your length of labour however your chance of a normal birth without forceps/vontouse is very high. With regard to your baby measuring a little more, that would be normal if you've already had a larger baby however if your tummy measures 3cm higher than the number of weeks you are it may be a suggestion to do an ultra sound scan. Estimating fetal weight has up to a 10% error in measuring weight. With regard to the second stage of labour, if your baby is well, do not try to push until your baby's head is very low in your pelvis and you feel the urge. The use of a birth stool may help you push but do not deliver on one as it can cause increased tearing. Do perineal stretch exercises as it will get you used to the stinging feeling that is obviously worse in the second stage but you will recognise it and it will help you push.
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