Our family GP tackles your labour questions

Whether you’re wondering about a caesarean, or panicking about possibly having a big baby, our family GP answers your questions about labour

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Q: Due to a breech baby, I’ve been told I’m going to have to have a caesarean delivery. How will I feel physically, and how soon can I expect to be up and about?

A: A caesarean is still an operation, even if it’s done for a very happy reason. The incision is 6 to 8 inches long, and you can expect some soreness for at least a few days, for which you can take painkillers. It hurts to cough and laugh, for instance. More importantly, a caesarean makes it more difficult to lift and look after a new baby and any other children you may have. To begin with, it is also more challenging to get you and your baby into position for breastfeeding. On the other hand, many women have had caesareans, as I did, and after the first 24 hours they usually manage well, especially if someone lends a hand with chores and heavy lifting.

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You can expect to be up the next day and out of hospital in 4 to 5 days, all being well. If you have an epidural rather than general anaesthetic you shouldn’t feel groggy, and can hold your baby right away, although your arms may feel a bit weak.

For a few weeks you will be more tired, and may lose more blood because the womb shrinks down less well afterwards. Usual advice is not to drive for 4 to 6 weeks, but if you feel ready to get behind the wheel before this, speak to your GP.

Q: At 33 weeks pregnant, my bump is absolutely huge! I really am much bigger than other women in antenatal group who are about the same stage as me. I’m worried that I might be having a particularly big baby, which might mean a difficult birth, or that he’s more developed than usual and might arrive early.

A: First, rest assured that your baby won’t arrive early because he’s more developed. An unborn baby isn’t like a bun in the oven that pops out as soon as it’s cooked! If anything, the opposite is true: babies more often leave the womb early because they’re not growing well (for example if the placenta is failing).

Second, although the size of the bump is a vague guide to the size of your baby, it’s really a very inaccurate estimate. The appearance of your bump depends on many things, including your posture. If you hold your back fairly curved, then your bump will stick out and look much larger, while if you tuck your bottom in and make your back ramrod straight, it will appear smaller. Shorter women also tend to have relatively large bumps.

The tone of your abdominal muscles also makes a big difference, which is why second and subsequent babies tend to show earlier, and why older mums often look like they are carrying big babies.

I am assuming that you don’t have twins, or excess amniotic fluid. This condition is called hydramnios. It is unusual and your midwife will be able to rule it out.

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Its true that a huge baby can sometimes mean a difficult birth, but size isn’t the only matter so try not to worry about the look of your bump. Just reassure yourself that your baby is thriving. Try to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and make the most of your fertility goddess looks.

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