The cervix has to open up
The baby is inside the womb, which is also called the uterus. At the bottom of the uterus is the cervix, which has an opening down into the vagina.
The baby can be born when the cervix has softened and opened completely.
How childbirth begins
Most commonly, childbirth begins with contractions. Contractions are when the muscles of the uterus get tight and then relax to help push the baby out.
At first, the contractions usually feel like pain in the lower part of the abdomen. They may come a little now and then. Sometimes there is a longer break between the contractions. There may be more discharge than before.
Sometimes there is fluid or a little blood
Sometimes childbirth starts with fluid running out of the vagina.
Some births start with a little bleeding from the vagina.
Sometimes the contractions are strong right away. In such case, the cervix opens more quickly.
More contractions as the baby moves down towards the vagina
The contractions will eventually get stronger. They become longer and more regular.
It is common to have contractions for many hours. Sometimes for up to 24 hours.
The cervix opens completely.
The baby comes further down. As the baby approaches the opening of the vagina, it is common to feel sick and vomit.
It is good to change position
The birth may go faster if you change position. For example, you can walk, lie on your side, or kneel in the bed.
The midwife (barnmorska) can tell you when to change position.
Time to push
When the baby is at the opening of the vagina, it is time to push.
You push to help get the baby out through your vagina. You usually push when you are having a contraction.
Between contractions, you can usually rest.
When you have a contraction, you may feel the need to poo. Sometimes poo may even come out.
The midwife will help you
The midwife will help you and explain how and when to push.
It may burn and sting when the baby's head comes out through the vagina.
The opening of the vagina may be stretched if the head takes time to come through. There will then be less risk of tearing.
Sometimes vacuum extraction (sugklocka) is needed
Sometimes the birth needs to be assisted by applying a soft or rigid cup with a handle and a vacuum pump to the baby's head. This is called vacuum extraction. A doctor will then carefully guide the baby out while you push.
This method is most often needed when the contractions are too weak.
When the baby is born
You can have the baby resting on your chest straight away if you wish, and the baby seems fine.
It is good for the baby to have skin-to-skin contact.
In most cases, the baby will start crying at first.
Some babies need help from a midwife or paediatrician.
The uterus contracts
Once the baby is born, the uterus contracts.
The placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus, and you can push it out.
There will be a wound when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus. Blood will come from the wound, just like during a menstrual period. This bleeding is called discharge (avslag).
The midwife examines you
The midwife will examine your genital area to see if there are any tears.
You are usually given anaesthetic before the examination.
During childbirth, you will lose blood. Your body has prepared for this by producing about two litres of extra blood during your pregnancy.
You can get help from an interpreter
You may be entitled to an interpreter if you do not speak Swedish.