Labor and Delivery Print A Picture Guide to Childbirth By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD Updated July 30, 2018 Medically reviewed by a board-certified physician More in Labor and Delivery Pain Relief C-Sections 1 Preparing for Childbirth Catherine Delahaye/Getty Images The ninth month of pregnancy is all about preparing for childbirth. After the entire pregnancy, you're nearly there! Mother You may experience low backache, heartburn, and Braxton Hicks Contractions.Hopefully, you have finished or will be finishing your childbirth classes to prepare for labor and childbirth.You will still have prenatal care appointments with a doctor or midwife and potentially see your doula. Baby Your baby's brain is growing a lot at the end of pregnancy.Deposits of brown fat, which will keep your baby warm after birth, are being made.Your baby's lungs are also developing. 2 The Mucus Plug and Breaking Bag of Waters Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images As you near the end of your 40 weeks, and even after 40 weeks, you may be watching for signs of labor. These signs of labor are good indicators that your baby is ready to be born. Mother You may lose your mucus plug all at once or slowly before labor begins. Sometimes you will not see the mucus plug until labor is well underway.Some women notice increased vaginal discharge as labor nears.While your labor may start with the breaking of the bag of waters, this is not as common as you might think. Baby You may notice that your baby feels like s/he is down lower. This is called dropping or lightening. This may not happen until labor has started. 3 Contractions During Childbirth Getty Images Contractions during childbirth are what is best known about labor. A contraction is simply the uterine muscle tightening and releasing, opening the cervix, the mouth of the uterus. Mother The discomfort or pain caused by contractions can often be alleviated by changing positions.You may use relaxation, visualization, vocalization and other comfort measures to decrease the pain of contractions as well. Baby Your baby is still moving during labor. This is typically less movement than before labor, but many moms can still notice the movements that their baby is making.Fetal monitoring may be used to monitor contractions as well as your baby's heart rate. 4 How the Cervix Opens to Give Birth Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.- Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. As your labor progresses, the contractions of labor will change the cervix. Your cervix needs to open or dilate to 10 centimeters before your baby can be born. Mother Your labor contractions will come at regular intervals that get stronger, longer and closer together.Your cervix thins out (effaces).Your cervix opens (dilates). Baby Your baby moves down in your pelvis as labor progresses (station). 5 Fetal Head Molds Ariel Skelley / Getty Images Contractions also help your baby's head mold. This is how your baby is able to fit through your pelvis. Mother Movement may help your baby's head to mold more quickly.Changing positions definitely helps you with pain management of contractions in labor and childbirth. Baby The baby simply keeps moving downward towards being born in a normal labor. This is the pressure needed to mold the bones of the baby's skull. This is what gives some babies a cone-shaped head. This molding is generally slight and goes away without any treatment within a few hours or days of birth. 6 If an Epidural Is Used Universal Images Group/Getty Images Some women will choose to use epidural anesthesia. You may make this decision prior to labor or during labor. Mother Will be given an IV and IV fluids prior to the epidural.Will have the epidural catheter placed.After the epidural has taken effect a urinary catheter may also be used.Will be restricted to bed as movements are hindered. There are positions for labor that can still be used.If your labor slows, interventions, like Pitocin or breaking your water (amniotomy), may be used to speed labor. Baby Constant fetal monitoring will be used during the epidural procedure and afterward.Some babies will experience changes in the heart rate with any medication, the nursing staff will be watching your baby for signs of fetal distress. 7 Baby's Head Is Born Inga Spence/Getty Images This is an intense part of labor. The baby is about to be born, there is excitement, hard work and, well, labor, to be done. Mother May need to slow pushing efforts, particularly if being coached.May feel the "ring of fire" as the baby is crowning.Will usually feel a great release and decrease in pain as baby is born. Baby Makes final twists and turns to be born.May need suctioning for meconium, if present.Comes immediately to mom's belly or breast after birth. 8 Placenta Photo © E+/Getty Images Typically everyone is so caught up in the baby that the placenta is usually only monitored by the midwife, doctor or nurses. Mother The uterus continues to contract.The placenta will usually detach on its own from the uterus within 5-30 minutes.Holding and nursing the baby will speed the process.May be asked to push to aid in the expulsion of the placenta. Baby Breathing and crying.Settling with mom, skin to skin.Attempts to breastfeed. 9 Bonding With Your Baby Taxi/Getty Images This time immediately after birth is a special time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby nurse immediately after birth. You can have your doula or nurses help you with breastfeeding, but usually laying the baby skin to skin in this newborn period is enough to get your baby seeking the breast and nursing without a lot of assistance. Mother May shiver from the birth, warm blankets help.The uterus continues to contract. Nursing will help the process of involution.May be excited, tired, happy and all at once. Baby Usually in a quiet alert state right after birth.Best if placed directly skin to skin on mom for warming.Will actively seek the breast if unhindered by clothing, medication, and age (not premature). 10 Mucus Plug Michelle Steele This mucus plug came out the night before her fifth baby was born. Sometimes you will see it in a big chunk, or simply notice a large increase in mucus discharge as you get closer to your due date. It can be loose, like this one, or more tightly together. You do not need to save the mucus plug. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Get diet and wellness tips to help your kids stay healthy and happy. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources The Labor Progress Handbook. Simkin, P and Ancheta, R. Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition.