1.2.1  What is adequate uterine contraction?

If true labour is progressing, there will be adequate uterine contraction, evaluated on the basis of three features — the frequency, the duration and the intensity of the contractions:

  • The frequency of uterine contractions will be 3-5 times in every 10 minute period.
  • Each contraction lasts 40–60 seconds; this is known as the duration of contractions.
  • The woman tells you that her contractions feel strong; this is the intensity of contractions.

You can assess the strength of uterine contractions for yourself by palpating the woman’s abdomen in the area of the fundus (top) of the uterus. In between contractions, when the uterus is relaxed and the muscular wall is soft, you will be able to palpate the fetal parts. But when a strong contraction comes, you will not be able to feel the fetal parts, because the abdominal wall over the uterus is very tense and very painful if you apply deep pressure with your fingers.

In Study Session 4, you will learn how to record the frequency, duration and intensity of contractions on a chart called the partograph.

A woman is sitting with her legs bent and apart. You can see amniotic fluid coming from her vagina.

1.2  How do you know that true labour has begun?

1.2.2  Show and leakage of amniotic fluid