RUTH JENKINSON / MIDIRS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUTH JENKINSON / MIDIRS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Woman in labour. Midwife with a full-term pregnant woman sitting on a birth stool during early labour (childbirth) at home. Labour involves painful, rhythmic contractions of the muscular wall of the uterus. These become stronger and more frequent as labour progresses. First the contractions dilate the cervix, the neck of the uterus, before they push the baby out of the body. Birth stools enable the delivery to occur in a sitting position, which women may find more comfortable. At bottom left is a portable foetal doppler ultrasound unit for checking the foetus' heartbeat.
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