A guide to how the mother and baby's bodies change and cope with labour - the most challenging and potentially dangerous phase of pregnancy.
- In the weeks leading up to birth, the mother's body adapts to make the baby's journey as smooth as possible.
- A baby's journey down the birth canal can take over 18 hours.
- Contractions are rhythmic muscle spasms in the uterus which cause the cervix to open gradually or dilate.
- A newborn's skull plates are not yet fused together, allowing it to squeeze through the mother's pelvis unharmed.