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Childbirth

This is the process of giving birth to a baby. Before the woman gives birth, she passes through labour, which involves the use of much energy.

A. Labour
There are three different stages of labour:

1. The first stage which lasts for an average of ten hours in first pregnancy and seven hours in subsequent ones. They occur at long intervals and the mother is often asked to relax.
2. The second stage is usually more painstaking as she has to work hard to aid the passage of the child through the birth canal. In this stage, the foetal membrane or bag of water ruptures, giving the mother an urge to push. The baby comes out with the head connected to the placenta. After delivery of the child, the umbilical cord is cut to separate the child from the mother.
3. The third stage is very short as it involves the expulsion of the placenta after birth.

B. Delivery
Before the baby is born, it will move in the lower part of the womb and the mother may have to pass water more often. This may happen two weeks before the baby’s birth, if it is first delivery. Also, it is quite normal for a plug of jelly to come out before labour begins.

In-between contractions, it is advisable to drink a little sugar-water or fruit juice, if the mother is feeling sick and she should not push or get anyone to massage or press her belly, until the baby begins to move down into the birth canal. Sometimes, the birth of the baby begins with the breaking of the bag of water. At this frightening stage, the mother should now push with all her strength. If the child comes slowly, the mother should raise her knees to her chest. With this, the birth canal stretches and the baby’s head appears. At this point, the mother should try not to push in order to prevent tearing by the baby. The midwife will support the baby’s head, but must not pull it.

C. Post-natal care
This is referred to as care given to a woman after giving birth. She is expected to return to the hospital with the baby after six weeks of delivery for medical check-ups. During this period, she will be instructed or directed on her diet and also body exercise, in order to keep fit and healthy.

D. Birth control
This is defined as the practice of controlling the number of children a couple has, using different methods. Some of the methods include:

1. Contraceptives for men, that is, use of condoms.
2. Contraceptives for women, that is, use of intra-uterine devices or contraceptives and vaginal diaphragm.
3. Contraceptive methods requiring the co-operation of both the male and female, that is, meeting only during safe period. It is very advisable for any couple to seek medical advice before embarking on any birth control method.

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