On admission to the obstetrics unit, you will be actively supported by a competent team of midwives and medical specialists. Your gynaecologist will be informed by the obstetrics unit and a midwife will remain with you until he or she arrives.

The birth of a first child usually takes eight to twelve hours, while the birth of subsequent children generally occurs within seven hours.

The 'latent' phase of childbirth lasts for 6 - 10 hours and is designed to dilate the cervix, which widens slightly with each contraction. The attending midwife or doctor regularly monitors the dilation of the cervix until it has reached a width of approximately 10cm. The contractions will increase in intensity as the intervals between them diminish.

In the subsequent 'active' phase, the baby is pushed into the birth canal with each contraction. In this phase, your contractions are four times stronger than in the latent phase and are accompanied by an intense feeling of pressure, as the baby's head presses against the lower pelvis, intestines and vaginal opening.

At this point, your doctor may perform an episiotomy in order to prevent tearing and to facilitate the delivery of the baby's head. The head emerges first, followed by the shoulders and the rest of the body.

Once your baby is born, the midwife will place him or her in your arms to hold close to you. Hugging your newborn replaces the familiar contact and helps you to bond together. These first precious moments are for you and your baby and you will be left to experience them undisturbed. Your medical team will remain close by, in case you require any assistance.

A paediatrician will examine your baby much later, unless a medical issue calls for more immediate attention. You will be shown how to place your baby on the breast for the first time, after which you will both be transferred to your room in the obstetric unit, where you can enjoy spending time with your newborn with the full support and care of the nursing staff.