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A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, it’s just not so great for growing teeth!

Of course for most children the only time they need medicines is when they are unwell. Just the time to be trying to cajole them take medicines which might or might not taste ok. 

Calpol and ibuprofen are often designed to taste quite nice – hopefully not nice enough to drink a whole lot of it! (In general toddlers or small children who take an accidental overdose of these generally recover well – it is still vitally important to keep it stored safely, even when you’re exhausted in the middle of the night).

When giving any medicines to children your approach will need to be tailored to them as an individual. Here are some suggestions that may help

Explain
It is often helpful to explain what the medicine is for and even how it works if they are old enough to understand. 

Smile!
Being positive and even cheerful and matter of fact (this is hardcore I know!) can really help.

Relinquish Control
Allowing your child some control of the situation. It may help to ask whether they want to take the medicine in the lounge watching TV, in the bath or even in bed, and whether they’d like to be held or distracted.

Choose your Receptacle
Some children will prefer a syringe, for some a teaspoon will be better, or a small cup. Some will want it all at once, some in small bits with a strong flavoured drink after. 

Be Sneaky
Some medicines you can hide in other things, although be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Applesauce is the classic American tactic. Yoghurt, fruit juice or even ice-cream may work. Just make sure that they take all of the food or drink you mixed it in or they will miss part of the dose.

Be Strategic
Here’s a novel one – don’t just aim for ‘in’ when you squirt a syringe in a struggling toddler’s mouth. Aim for the back or the sides further back. This will bypass most of the tastebuds which are sensibly located nearer the front.

If All Else Fails…
Bribes may work and we see this a lot. Parents often offer big early when it may only be the first dose! Small incentives and even star charts which lead to a chosen reward can also work really well.

Experiment and see what works. Most of all remember it probably won’t be the last time you have to do it!

Don’t worry – it’s vanishingly likely that your baby boy needs a circumcision, despite well-intentioned advice from dad, uncle or grandad who may have had one at their age.

You look and the little wee-hole is barely visible, it all swells up like a balloon even before any wee comes out. You’re reasonably convinced they must need one too.

All babies have their foreskin fully stuck down at the start to the head of the penis. Sometime between then and being effectively an adult man it needs to become loose and be able to come back. For some babies this will be within the first year, for some boys it will be during puberty. The important thing is that it honestly doesn’t matter. Even if it is not loose after puberty there are other options as it makes things painful.

You might have noticed that (some – actually almost all) boys can play with their foreskins helping this natural process along a bit.

So when you look at the teeny tiny hole at the tip of the penis and watch it balloon up, this is normal – as long as the flow after the balloon fills is good and it’s not painful or a big effort to start the wee. The big balloon only happens because the hole on the inside at the tip of the head of the penis is bigger than the one at the tip of the foreskin. This means that the foreskin swells up until the pressure becomes high enough to come out at the tip of the foreskin. The foreskin is designed for the adult head of the penis to grow into so there’s literally loads of space.

When a doctor looks to see if they need a circumcision they won’t pull the foreskin back (OUCH – it’s really delicate and pulling it back is painful and completely unnecessary). They may pull it gently forwards to demonstrate where the head of the penis will later expand into it.

The foreskin would almost always sort itself with time. If they think it is really tight or there is pain there is a really effective treatment available, The humble steroid cream (usually Eumovate – sometimes Hydrocortisone). You may have heard that we should be really careful using steroids as they can thin the skin (and the foreskin is already very thin delicate skin). It makes skin go thin. 

That’s exactly what we want it to do here!

We are stealing that later growth to open the hole slightly and relieve any symptoms or anxiety about it. You just massage a tiny bit into the area around the foreskin morning and night for up to 6 weeks. In fairness it often opens up enough after a few weeks that you don’t need the full 6 weeks. Usually your doctor will plan to see you again at 6-8 weeks to see how it went. Most boys will be fine by then. Some may relapse and need a bit more of the cream later. Most it will be quickly forgotten.

If even a longer course of steroids is not effective, more surgical options may be considered (after checking that your son has definitely applied the cream first!).

The only definite indication for a circumcision is something called BXO – weird name, huh? It’s marginally better than it’s real name or Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans! It isn’t totally understood how it happens – it’s thought to be partly an autoimmune condition (the body fights itself). Anyway, it is white scaly patches that start as spots and then group together in patches. It cracks and bleeds and then scars to form a hard lump. It’s really itchy and can cause pain and burning (girls get something similar as flat white patches called Lichen Planus). By the time it is diagnosed the hard lump can make it really difficult to pass urine and boys will often struggle to start their urinary stream. They will have really struggled on while it has got worse and worse. It can be a relative emergency if this is the case.

Steroids are still the first line treatment but most boys with this will need surgery. 

Even then they may not need a circumcision!

There is another option (not for all affected boys called preputioplasty – a fancy name for using an operation to open up the hole more than the steroids managed. Boys at this age will not fully appreciate what they need their foreskin’s for later so where possible if the foreskin can be ‘saved’ it should be to allow them to decide for themselves later if they wish to have it removed. It is completely irreversible. 

Lots of symptoms get put down to teething, usually rearing their head around that 4-7 months age range.

What sort of symptoms are there?

Flushed cheeks, crying, dribbling, chomping on seemingly anything & everything, fussiness, sore red gums. 

Teething is actually an amazing process! We think of it as teeth sitting there ready to pop through and suddenly get activated and rise like a volcano. It’s so much more sophisticated! They’re not said to erupt for nothing!

Before they are ready to make an entrance all of the teeth are constantly shuffling into the right positions as the jaw is growing quickly at the same time. They start off encased in the bone of the jaw, and much like the uterus changes in preparation for delivery, it completely changes to allow them to come through. The bone above them is reabsorbed and the soft tissue creates a path and so it is only the final eruption that we are actually even aware that the process is going on.

So what can we do to help them through this?

Cuddles! 

Distraction can be your friend. White noise, singing may be enough.

Providing a teething ring (or similar) and using a (clean) finger to massage the gums gently. Use the solid rather than gel-filled rings and then can even be kept in the freezer – just check regularly that it hasn’t been damaged by chewing. 

Washcloths dipped in water and frozen can also help massage the tender gums – make sure they have no holes or loose threads.

They may be distressed with pain and need Calpol or Ibuprofen – always try soothing first.

Remember all of that dribbling can make their delicate faces very red and sore so wiping it away and using moisturiser can help.

Remember teething is a programmed process and it will end! Hang in there and try and maintain routines as much as you can – and be kind to yourself when that’s just a bit too much.

Most kids do it at some point. Some even do it more than once!

Usually it’s young inquisitive toddlers (six months to three years) However, occasionally older children will do this for seemingly no obvious reason. Children who have learning or development challenges may swallow foreign objects more commonly.

First up it’s important to try and figure out whether it was swallowed or perhaps inhaled. Most children who inhale a foreign body will have coughed, but not all. The hardest thing is even remembering to think that they might have swallowed or inhaled something – they often won’t volunteer the information.

Often the object in question will be something small, like parts of toys, coins, little plastic gems, sequins, erasers, blu-tac, loose teeth, or large pieces of food. Most of these will pass through and out into the poo uneventfully. 

There are two specific objects require immediate referral and possibly immediate surgery.

BUTTON BATTERIES – Those nice round flat batteries you find in all sorts of normal household battery-powered items like watches, remote controls, hearing aids (elderly grandparents may not appreciate the risk).

It’s not leaking that causes the issue but the reaction with fluids in the body to create a circuit. This produces a really strong alkali which burns through the tissue it is in contact with. The most dangerous is the gullet or oesophagus as it may get stuck there and the prolonged contact allows the reaction to happen. Further down past the stomach the risk is less but still urgent to assess.

SUPER STRONG RARE-EARTH MAGNETS – These look like tiny balls which are highly magnetic and found in toys mostly. There has been a craze to play with these with one ball on the top of the tongue and one underneath to look like a pierced tongue. Although they are strong magnets they can still be easily swallowed. 

Any more than one can cause a problem, or one plus something made of metal that the magnet can stick to.

If they stick together they will pass through uneventfully. The risk is that they don’t stick together and can be attracted to each other from two different parts of the bowel causing problems. 

Other risky ones needing quick assessment are very big or awkwardly shaped items or sharp items.

Most other things will just pass normally and they don’t need you to check the poo to make sure! 

Your doctor may use a metal detector or Xray to find an item that contains metal or glass and so will show up on Xray. So long as the item passes through the thicker muscle at the bottom of the stomach it should pass fine. As long as your child doesn’t get tummy pain or vomiting you can just forget about it.

So honestly, take a breath, don’t panic.

If it is in that risk list get emergency help.

Here is an interesting study where some (slightly silly) Paediatricians swallowed lego and watched to see if it came out and to help reassure parents: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/nov/27/shit-a-brick-doctors-swallow-lego-to-allay-parents-fears

Here is a resource aimed at doctors on these so-called foreign bodies. It’s reasonably easy to read: https://dontforgetthebubbles.com/ingested-foreign-bodies/

Even if you may not have previously considered it, a survey by The Lullaby Trust suggests that 76% of parents have co-slept with their baby at some point. However, over 40% admitted to having done so in dangerous circumstances. This is why it is so important to have open discussions and as much awareness as possible around co-sleeping safety.

There is often some confusion about the definition of co-sleeping, and what differentiates it from bed-sharing. Co-sleeping means sleeping in close proximity to your baby, this can include bed-sharing, but also could include a side-cot, or simply a cot nearby in the same room. In other words, bed-sharing is one way of co-sleeping.

Both practices are perfectly safe if the correct steps are taken. It is recommended that parents sleep in the same room as their baby until they are six months old, but many parents co-sleep for much longer.

There are several ways to ensure bed-sharing is done safely,

  1. Make sure your space is clear of bulky adult bedding that could be accidentally pulled over baby (like pillows and big duvets)
  2. Baby always placed onto their back and not left unsupervised in the bed 
  3. Always next to mum and no one else in the bed (dad is safe to be next to mum, but baby is at increased risk of in between parents) This includes siblings and pets.
  4. Always remember NEVER to fall asleep with babies on sofas or chairs, as this increases the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.
  5. There are also occasions when bed sharing would be dangerous and we would recommend their own sleep space (a cot or moses basket free of toys, sleep aids where they are placed on their backs feet to the foot of the bed space)
    1. When anyone in the bed is under the influence of alcohol or drugs that have sedation effects.
    2. Baby was born prematurely or is a lower birth weight (under 5.5lbs).
    3. If you or anyone else in the bed smokes.

Whatever you choose, ensuring you’ve made an informed and safe decision is what matters, and will help you and baby sleep well.

Perhaps you haven’t been able to keep your eyes open over the last week? Maybe you’re even feeling the beginning of breast tenderness, or hints of nausea?

You pluck up the courage to take a test, and as you see those two blue lines appear, the realisation hits you – you’re pregnant! 

Congratulations! Here begins one of life’s most wonderful adventures!

Early pregnancy can be a time of real excitement and joy, but it can also be a time of anxiety and of constantly analysing what you are – or are not – feeling.

At Juno we’d love to take the worry out of the early weeks of pregnancy for you, so that you know exactly what to expect, and can fully embrace the beauty of the experience!

Once you have a positive pregnancy test it’s important to get in touch with a Midwife. 

Some will choose to access a Midwife via their GP, however you can make a self-referral to your local midwives, just by dropping them a text or email! 

Your GP surgery or local children’s centre will be able to advise you of the relevant contact details. Alternatively you should be able to access a self-referral form via the website of your chosen hospital.

There are many symptoms associated with early pregnancy, here we’ll take you through the most common.

Tiredness 
This is not your average tiredness. This is an exhaustion which can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and to complete even your normal daily routine. You may find your eyelis closing as soon as you sit on the sofa, and in fact this is a common prompt for women to begin to consider that they might be pregnant. There is a huge amount happening in your body in early pregnancy, and all of that takes a lot of energy. Do only what you have to, and rest whenever you can, it’s the perfect excuse to leave the household chores to someone else – you’re already working hard growing your baby!

Nausea & vomiting
Often called ‘morning sickness’ which is a misleading title because some find that the nausea lasts all. day. long. Some women will experience nausea only, others may regularly vomit.

This typically begins at around 6 weeks of pregnancy and will generally last until around week 12. It can be a tough time both physically and emotionally, especially as people may not even know that you are pregnant and so you may be trying to carry on as ‘normal’.

Focus on managing symptoms day by day and do ask for help from loved ones if you’re struggling.

This is a fairly common symptom and is not a cause for concern unless the vomiting is severe enough to mean that you cannot tolerate water, which can lead to dehydration. 

In this instance you should see your GP for advice.

Breast tenderness
This is another very common symptom of early pregnancy. Some will notice that their breasts grow noticeably even in the early weeks, or that their nipples may darken, and veins in the breast become more prominent. These are all signs of your body responding to the hormones of pregnancy, and the beginning of preparation for breastfeeding. Make sure to wear a soft supportive bra, and avoid underwires which can increase discomfort.

Needing to wee – a lot!
Even in the very early days and weeks there are enormous changes happening in your womb and so its quite common to feel that you need to pass urine more frequently, as the womb grows and pressure on the bladder increases. You’ll get some relief from this at about 12 weeks, as your womb moves up out of your pelvis – although I’m afraid that symptom makes definite return in the 3rd trimester!

Changes to your sense of smell & taste
Scents that you would normally love or not even notice may now seem overpowering to you. You might spray on your favourite perfume as you usually would and then find yourself running straight to the bathroom to wash it off again!

Equally you may find that foods you enjoy just wont taste the same, or even that you have a continual strange taste in your mouth. It can be unsettling to feel that everything is changing but bear in mind that this is just a stage, nothing permanent, and before long you’ll be enjoying all of your favourite things once again. 

Your first appointment with a Midwife is known as your ‘booking appointment’ and should ideally happen before you are 10 weeks pregnant.

This will likely be the most in depth appointment of your entire pregnancy and your Midwife will ask a huge number of questions about you, your partner, your own medical history as well as that of your family. You may need to brush up on any family medical history ahead of that appointment! 

Midwives offer holistic care and that means they’re not just interested in the physical aspects of your pregnancy, but also how you’re feeling emotionally, and what kind of support network you have around you. Some of the questions are of a very personal and sensitive nature, so while you’re welcome to have someone accompany you to the appointment, it’s wise to carefully consider who.

Your Midwife will also spend time discussing diet, vitamin supplements, as well as screening and diagnostic tests that are recommended in pregnancy, It’s important you have a good understanding of any tests that you are offered before they are carried out.

Whatever the early weeks of pregnancy bring your way, remember that Midwives at Juno are just a text away to answer any questions that you may have.

There are so many new things we need to learn as parents. You have to become an expert on all sorts, including the array of coughs, cold, and bugs that your child will inevitably pick up in their early years. In this situation, knowledge is power; knowing how to care for your child when they feel unwell and what signs mean medical support is needed, is invaluable. Here, I outline the 5 illnesses that sound more sinister than they actually are and outline what you need to know about them. 

Hand, foot and mouth disease

This ominous sounding disease can often conjure up thoughts of foot and mouth disease – a completely different, much more serious condition that occurs in farm animals. In contrast, hand, foot and mouth is an extremely common childhood illness that many little ones catch. Whilst it’s not very pleasant, it normally clears up on its own within 7 to 10 days. 

The first signs of this disease might be a sore throat, a temperature above 38C, and a lack of appetite. This then develops into ulcers or sores in the mouth and a rash or blisters on the hands and feet. It can be uncomfortable for children and can also be passed on to adults, (whose symptoms can be more serious – my toenails fell out after my son got hand foot and mouth!). The mainstay of treatment is to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, whilst your child’s immune system fights off the virus. Cool drinks, soft foods, and liquid paracetamol can all help ease discomfort. 

You only need to seek help from a doctor if: symptoms don’t improve after 10 days, your child appears dehydrated, or if they present other symptoms that don’t fit the normal description. If you’re pregnant there are some additional risks, so you could also consult your GP if that’s the case. 

Febrile convulsions

Febrile means a fever (anything above 38 degrees) and convulsion means to have a seizure or fit. When some children between the ages of roughly 6 months to 5 years get a sudden, high fever it can cause some of them (about 1 in 20) to have a seizure. The cause of this is still unknown.  A febrile convulsion can be extremely scary, but try not to panic. 

How should you manage this? 

If your child has been running a high temperature and starts to seize (which typically sees their limbs go stiff and the body jerk), place them in the recovery position on the floor, stay with them, and don’t try to put anything in their mouth. If safe and possible for you to do so – time how long the seizure lasts, and take a video recording of it, as this can be helpful for doctors.. Most stop within 5 minutes.  It will then be normal for your child to be sleepy for a while after the seizure 20-60mins (on average).

  1. If it’s your child’s first seizure or it looks like it’s lasting more than 5 minutes, I’d advise calling 999 and going to your local A&E.
  2. Don’t try and bring your child’s temperature down quickly (such as by putting them in a cold bath). If your child is going to have a febrile convulsion, you cannot prevent it.
  3. They should only have one in a 24hr period, so if they have more, then once again please go to your local A&E

The vast majority of febrile seizures aren’t a cause for long-term concern and are actually caused by things like viral upper airway infections and ear infections, which don’t normally need antibiotics. However, a small portion may be caused by things like urine infections which will need antibiotics. So, if your child has a febrile convulsion and it’s not clear that they have a sore throat, ear infection, runny nose, etc. then I’d advocate seeing your doctor for a urine test and general check up. 

Only 50% of one year olds go on to have any more febrile convulsions after their first. Having a febrile convulsion in itself does not mean your child has epilepsy.

Viral exanthem

It might sound like something from Dr Who, but a viral exanthem is simply a rash caused by a virus. They are incredibly common in kids. There are a huge number of viruses that cause rashes to appear, but most are fairly benign and will go away on their own.  

A liquid antihistamine can be used if the rash is causing irritation. If the symptoms don’t clear up naturally within 72 hours, get significantly worse, or it appears to be another, more serious form of rash (such as those associated with meningitis), it’s important that you contact a medical professional.  Remember to perform the glass test – press the side of a clear glass firmly against your child’s rash.  If the rash does not fade under pressure, be sure to seek urgent medical assessment.

If you’re unsure if the rash is a cause for concern, but you’re keen to speak to a professional, I’d recommend intermediary services. These include NHS 111 or apps like Juno, where you can speak to a trained professional quickly and get advice on next steps.

Gastroenteritis

Incredibly common in adults, children and babies, gastroenteritis is a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea  which is often caused by a viral infection or stomach bug. Although unpleasant, it’s typically not serious and shouldn’t last longer than a few days. 

Aim to keep your child hydrated, encourage lots of rest, and let them eat what food they fancy (dry toast or crackers tend to be a good place to start). If you’re concerned about your child becoming dehydrated, a pharmacist can help you find oral hydration solutions (such as dioralyte) that might help. 

Vomiting normally only lasts 1-2 days, on average, but the diarrhoea can last up to 1-2 weeks. If either lasts for longer, or your child is unable to keep down any fluid or is showing signs of dehydration (you will know this because they won’t be weeing much or at all), it’s time to speak to a doctor. 

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS)

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is what happens when your child experiences irritation in their mouth after eating certain types of fruit or fresh vegetables (tomatoes are a very common cause of this). Whilst certain allergies can be extremely serious and sometimes life threatening, this is very rarely the case in oral allergy syndrome. 

OAS happens because the child’s immune system is mistaking the proteins in the food for pollen, triggering a mild allergic reaction. This can cause itchiness, discomfort and redness in and around the mouth and throat (children often say it makes their mouths feel ‘furry’ or ‘fuzzy’) that should dissipate soon after eating. Cooking the same fruit and vegetables before eating often stops this reaction.

If the rash and itching bothers them, you give your child a non-sedating antihistamine (always check the label). However, if your child’s face, lips or tongue starts to swell, they feel dizzy, look or feel unwell, or they have any difficulty breathing, call 999 immediately as they may be suffering from anaphylaxis which is much more serious. 

If you have been following a healthy exercise programme before you became pregnant then it is usually safe to continue with it throughout your pregnancy.  Your midwife, at booking, will discuss lifestyle and exercise with you.  However, if you have been attending a gym or classes then you should let your instructor know that you are pregnant now so that modifications can be made.

One exercise you can safely take up is Tai Chi (gentle moving meditation) and its’s sister Chi Kung (Chinese yoga or the art of energy cultivation).  Both of these ancient Chinese practices promote deep relaxation and improved mental focus. The movements are adaptable and can be practised while walking, standing or sitting.  Tai Chi is a martial art and a form of Kung Fu but do not let this put you off. 

What is it?

The type of Tai Chi I learned focused on energy management and improving health and wellbeing.   It used repeated flowing circular movements and visualisations to harmonise body and mind.  The emphasis was on balance and using the breath to create a sense of calm within.  As a student my Chinese Teacher used to say that in learning the form (i.e., the series of steps and sequence of hand and foot co-ordinations, that the hardest part was learning the transitions, when one flow of movement changes to another flow or form.   I believe it is the same with the birth process.  Very often, it is just before the birth that mother’s to be want to stop and give up.  The sensations within the body can become intense and we become aware of a change being imminent.  Tai Chi helps us recognise that even when there is intensity there is also calm and flow.

Why do it?

Exercise does not have to be intensive to be beneficial, it can be something gentle that you do for you and your baby for twenty minutes each day.  As you nourish and take care of your body, you are doing the same for your baby.  The gentle swaying motions of Tai Chi and circular movements, encourage good posture and deep connection to your body’s energy system or chi.  Tai Chi makes you aware of your surroundings but it also encourages you to dive deeply within and connect with your body and its’ own healing mechanisms.

In pregnancy, your centre of gravity changes and both Tai Chi and Chi Kung can help build core strength and balance.  Care is taken to warm up all parts of the body in turn, so that optimum circulation is achieved.  This can help improve swelling and lymph drainage. The gentle circular pelvic rotations promote mobility, thus helping prevent backache and teaching you to tune into your body for labour.    Breathing in a slow gentle rhythm in time to a series of gentle repeated movements stills the mind.  There is evidence to suggest that Tai Chi and Yoga combined can help prevent depression in the antenatal period.

Birth is a time when we need our strength and to be able to draw on our inner mental focus and intuition.  The guided relaxations and moving mediations within Tai Chi encourage a calm gentle contemplation and teach a sensitivity as to when to move and when to rest.  I was not pregnant when I first discovered Tai Chi and Chi Kung but both these practices helped me through an extremely stressful time in my life. 

They became a way for me to access inner resources and balance.  

What will I learn?

In Tai Chi and Chi Kung, we learn to focus on an area called the “dantian”, which is approximately three finger widths below the belly button.  Known as the “golden stove” in ancient Taoist texts, the dantian in Chinese medicine is regarded as being the foundation of balance, breathing and full body awareness.  

I like the fact that in focusing on this area, you are also focusing on where your baby is.  It can be a lovely way to connect with him or her, if you imagine them inside floating in their own ocean of stillness, as you move about your busy day.  One simple visualisation is to picture them safe and warm and relaxed, smile at them and see them smiling back at you.  Don’t worry about how it is done.  Just know that it is done.  You may even feel a nudge or a kick in response from your baby. Exercises like Tai Chi and Chi Kung promote the production of endorphins and endorphins provide us with a sense of happiness and wellbeing.  

Where can I practice?

Tai Chi and Chi Kung can be practised anywhere.  You can practice it at home with your shoes on.  However, my favourite thing to do is to find a quiet place outside.  Perhaps in your garden, at the beach or in a park. 

Kick-off your shoes and sink your bare feet into the ground.  Allow your knees to soften and relax, imagine a ball of sunlight under each armpit and that you are sitting on a large golden sun.  (Something like your birthing/labour ball if you have sat on this and bounced about.). If you are tired, you can use the ball to sit on or a chair. 

Just make sure that you are comfortable, have a snack to hand and stay well hydrated.  

Then without rushing and in your own time, imagine you can breathe in the gentle sunlight all around. 

Imagine that the sunlight flows all the way from the top of your head, right down through your body and out the soles of your feet.  Spend as long as you wish doing this and towards the end, connect with your baby again and picture them breathing in and out this gentle light in harmony with you. 

Don’t forget that smile.  

Typically if your pregnancy is low risk then you can usually expect spontaneous labour to occur when you are between 37-42 weeks pregnant. 

You may have seen that a TV labour usually starts with a dramatic gush of water in the middle of a shop and then contractions follow immediately after. But actually in real life, early labour (known as the latent phase) it is very normal for either waters to break or contractions to start spontaneously. There is no set way for labour to start. You may even notice your mucus plug coming away, although this could happen a good few weeks before labour, backache, or period like discomfort.

Pop!

For most of your pregnancy, your baby has been protected and surrounded by a fluid filled sac called the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac is made up of amniotic fluid and two thin, but tough, layers called the membranes. Towards the end of pregnancy when labour is ready to start, membranes can rupture and spring a leak – commonly known as waters breaking.

When waters / membranes break they can go with a gush or sometimes just a trickle. It is important to observe for signs of this towards the end of your pregnancy as your maternity unit needs to know when your waters break. 

*Please take note of the colour of your waters if they go as this is good information to pass onto your Midwife*

Contractions

You may have heard lots about contractions. Contractions are the name used to describe the tightening and shortening of the uterine muscles. 

Contractions have two purposes:

  1. To help the baby to move down into the birth canal.
  2. To assist the cervix in thinning out and dilating.

In early labour, contractions often start as quite irregular, infrequent and uncomfortable tightenings. You might notice that the contractions may stop and start, this is all part of the latent phase and it could last hours or sometimes days. Timing contractions is a really good idea in early labour. Time from the start of the contraction to the end and record how many contractions you are experiencing in each ten minute period. By recording the duration and frequency you are able to recognise when you may need to contact your local maternity unit.

What can I do?

At first you may be unsure if you are in early labour or not. It is always a good idea to:

Monitor. Record frequency and duration of contractions, watery loss and/or symptoms. Also monitor fetal movements as your baby should remain active through labour.

Bathe. Water is brilliant for relaxing and helping with discomfort.

Hydrate. Drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, you could also drink isotonic liquids to keep energy levels up.

Snack. Labour requires a lot of energy, so snacking little and often throughout the latent phase will help.

Mobilise. Remaining mobile during the early stages will help to get the baby into an optimal position for birth.

Analgesia. Paracetamol is safe and effective to take during labour if you have no recognised allergies / contra-indications.

Lighting. Keep lighting to a minimum. Dimming lights encourages relaxation and reduces stress hormones whilst increasing oxytocin (the hormone needed for effective contractions).

Massage. Asking your birth partner to massage you through this time will encourage relaxation.

Birthing ball. Gently rocking side to side can help baby settle into an optimal position for labour.

Rest. Use meditation or breathing techniques to help rest through early labour. Preserve your energy as your baby will be here before you know it.

Call. If you are experiencing any symptoms other than the ones described here or you would like to be assessed, please call your local maternity unit.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our Midwives here at Juno if you require support advice or assistance regarding all things early labour related.