Chapter 11: Opening – stage 1 of labor
The mother’s pulse
Check the mother’s pulse every 4 hours, or more often if there is a problem.
See page 120 to learn how to check the pulse.
During labor, a woman’s pulse should be about the same as it was during
pregnancy — between 60 and 100 beats a minute between contractions. It can be
higher during a contraction.
A fast pulse can be caused by different problems:
• infection (see page 179)
• blood loss (see pages 183 and 184)
• dehydration (see page 159)
• fear (see page 169)
A fast pulse can be normal in labor, especially in
second stage. This can be OK if it goes back to its usual rate after the birth.
A very slow pulse or a pulse that keeps getting slower can be a sign of severe
blood loss and shock. Look for signs of bleeding inside the body (see page 184).
The mother’s temperature
Check the mother’s temperature every 4 hours, or
more if her temperature has been high or her
water is broken. See page 119 to learn how
to check the mother’s temperature.
If the mother feels warm, or if
her temperature is between 37˚C (98.6˚F) and
38˚C (100.4˚F), she may be dehydrated. Have the
mother drink more fluids and check her
temperature often to see if it goes up more.
Wa r nin g sig ns Mother has a fever — a temperature of 38˚C (100.4˚F) or above
— or she feels hot to the touch.
It can be normal for a woman to get very warm in labor, but a fever above 38˚C
(100.4˚F) is usually a sign of infection.
A Book for Midwives (2010)