Labor and delivery

Every woman's labor and delivery experience is unique. Still, understanding what's typical can help you know what to expect as your due date approaches.

Labor and delivery generally follows a pattern — the cervix softening and opening; the amniotic sac rupturing; the contractions getting stronger and closer together. Sometimes, however, labor and delivery takes surprising twists and turns. You might reconsider your wishes about pain medication, or you might need an unexpected C-section.

However your labor and delivery unfolds, remember that your health and your baby's health are what's most important. Discuss your labor and delivery preferences with your health care provider, including options for pain medication and thoughts about episiotomy and other procedures. Then look forward to welcoming your baby into the world.