- Samir Hussein / Getty
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will soon welcome the new royal baby.
- In fact, Markle’s due date could be any day now.
- They are most likely to have a midwife-led birth at Frogmore Cottage, reports say.
- Here’s what she can expect from labor, which has three stages.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Meghan Markle will be giving birth to the next royal baby very soon. Her mother, Doria Ragland, is reportedly in the UK for the arrival of her grandchild, and Markle wasn’t present at the Easter Sunday church services at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, suggesting her due date is right around the corner.
While the birth of their child will be an exciting day for Markle and Prince Harry, they are likely to be feeling a lot of other things too.
Dr Isis Amer-Wahlin, the obstetrics and gynecology consultant at Bonzun’s My Pregnancy app told INSIDER that perhaps the most common feeling mothers-to-be experience is anxiety.
“The pain and exhaustion felt can easily cause the mother to feel anxious, particularly as it can be hard to judge how much longer she will experience these sensations,” she said. “Many women also feel anxious if they are not given enough information, or if they don’t have a proper understanding of what is going on at each stage of their labor.”
Pregnancy is completely unique to each woman, but generally there are three stages of labor. It’s not possible to exactly predict what will happen for each individual mother, but there are patterns that emerge, Amer-Wahlin said.
The first stage is the ‘latent’ phase
This is typically the longest stage, and it is when your contractions start. They tend to be painful, but the point of contractions is to soften your cervix so it’s ready to open for your baby to be born.
They start off fairly irregular, and they feel like abdominal pain or menstrual cramps, Amer-Wahlin said, and it can take hours or even days for them to become more regular.
“During the latent phase, it is a good idea for the mothers-to-be to rest as much as possible, try to eat regularly, and drink plenty of fluids, in order to build up the strength they will need once the labor is established,” she said. “As this phase can be quite long and uncomfortable, women can try easing their discomfort by taking a warm bath or doing some breathing exercises.”
Women don’t typically need to go to the hospital when the latent phase begins, as the cervix needs to be dilated at least 3cm before she can be admitted. Amer-Wahlin said you should only go to the hospital once you have roughly three contractions every 10 minutes, your waters break, or you are in severe pain or worried something is wrong.
Sometimes, if the first stage is going on for a long time, the doctor may need to speed up the process by breaking the mother’s water or giving her an oxytocin drip.
Then comes stage two
When the cervix is fully dilated to 10cm, the second stage begins, which is when the mother moves to her preferred position for the birth.
“The urge to push coincides with the contractions, and requires a lot of effort from the mother,” said Amer-Wahlin. “The only time she might be asked to stop pushing is when the baby’s head is passing through the birth canal, to make sure that the delivery is smooth and safe, and the muscles of the perineum stretch accordingly.”
After the head, the rest of the baby’s body is delivered within a couple of contractions, she said. This stage typically doesn’t last longer than three hours if it’s your first child, then for mothers who have already had children, it shouldn’t last longer than two.
Stage three happens after the baby is born
By stage three, the baby has arrived, so all that’s left is to do is deliver the placenta – the organ that develops in the mother’s uterus to provide oxygen and nutrients to her baby.
“Mothers can have active management to deliver the placenta, which typically involves an oxytocin injection and the midwife pulling the placenta out through the vagina by the cord,” said Amer-Wahlin. “Alternatively, the placenta can be born naturally – this can happen up to an hour after delivery, but the process itself only takes a few minutes.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are believed to be having their baby at home, rather than at hospital. The Mail on Sunday reported this is because Markle did not want “the men in suits” to supervise her birth.
Amer-Wahlin said staying calm during labor is crucial, so it’s in their best interest to be in a place that is comfortable for them.
Although women in labor experience pain, apprehension, and exhaustion, with it also comes excitement for meeting the new baby and a feeling of empowerment for the mother, Amer-Wahlin said.
“It is a truly amazing feeling to know that you’ll be holding your new child in, what is often, just a matter of hours,” she said. “In addition to the sheer gravity of the moment, the mother’s hormones will also influence this feeling of euphoria, as oxytocin, endorphins, and epinephrine all increase as labor progresses.”