Established labour

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This lesson should take approximately 60 minutes and is appropriate for senior midwifery students, as well as anyone interested in childbirth. With a partner you will work your way through a scenario that focuses on the care of a woman in established labour. This scenario is designed to support you to think about midwifery assessment and actions, decision-making and sharing information when you are working with women in established labour.


  • Computer and Internet with access to Second Life
  • Basic ability to use Second Life and access the virtual birth unit
  • Resource Pack that can be found in the meeting room on the second floor of the birth unit. -----need to check that!!!
  • Midwife's self-assessment form and clinical notes, and script for woman.
  • Extra resources to support this scenario either as links or printed handouts:

Clinical notes for midwife

Date xx/xx/xx Time 9 hours ago Phone call. Lisa Smith rang the birth unit with history of contracting 1: 10 mins, lasting 30 secs. Had been contracting 1:15 previously. G1 P0. Term plus 2 days. In good health. Urine normal but has had slight diarrhea for 24 hours. Also feeling slightly nauseated all day. Slight finger oedema. No headaches or visual disturbances. Intact membranes. No vaginal bleeding but small amount of mucasy 'show'. Good fetal movements.

Advised to stay at home and await events. Try to get as much rest as possible; relax in warm shower/bath. Continue to eat and drink normally. To ring again if contractions become more painful and/or frequent; membranes rupture and/or fluid is any colour other than clear; have vaginal bleeding; or have any concerns about baby's movements. AN Other Midwife

Date xx/xx/xx Time 3 hours ago Lisa Smith admitted to birth unit. In good health. Normal pregnancy. Slightly elevated blood pressure at the end of pregnancy but settled. No headaches or visual disturbances. Passing urine normally. No show. Good fetal movements. Contracting every five minutes, lasting 20-30 seconds, in-coordinate, mild on palpation.

T. 36.4 degrees C P.78/min R. 16/min BP 120/70 Urine - Protein nil, Glucose nil, Ketones nil, Blood nil.

Abdominal palpation: fundus =dates, longitudinal lie, cephalic presentation, back on the left, posterior, head at brim, 3/5th palpable. Fetal heart 135, no deceleration heard during contraction.

VE to assess progress: Cervix posterior, partially effaced, soft, thick, poorly applied, 2 cm dilated. Head presents, 2cm above ischial spines, position not defined. No caput, moulding or cord felt. Membranes intact. Fetal heart 145, no deceleration heard during contraction.

Impression: Labour is progressing normally and both Lisa and baby are well. Plan: To await events. Advised Lisa to rest as much as possible and also moblise when she feels like it. Showed her around the birthing unit and invited her to help herself to food and drink. AN Other Midwife

Midwife's self-assessment form

Use this self-assessment form to assess your performance, reflect on what you did well and what you can improve in the future.

Script for woman

Here is the information about the last few hours for you to pass onto the midwife as and when it is appropriate or relevant. Feel free to add lib a little but please keep everything ‘normal’.

The idea of this scenario is for the midwife to support you as you are in established labour. The midwife should assess your condition and make a plan of action for the next few hours and advice/support you. Wait until the midwife asks you questions – don’t give out all the information at once. Feel free to ask questions which you think will help to test the midwife's knowledge of normal childbirth.

  • Contractions
You are in established labour and getting contractions every 5 minutes with the pain in your back radiating around to the front of your stomach. They last about 30-40 secs. They have been like this for the last hour. You have to stop and breathe heavily through the contractions and cannot speak. They are stopping you from resting.
  • How you are feeling
You are excited that things are getting going at last but the painful contractions are tiring you.You have gone from feeling cheerful to concentrating hard on working through the contractions.
  • Abdominal palpation
You are happy to have an abdominal palpation. It is a little sore when the midwife palpates you, especially when she tries to feel where the baby's head is. You don't like lying on your back when you have a contraction because it is very painful so you want the midwife to get the palpation and vaginal examination over with as quickly as possible so you can get up on your feet again.
  • Vaginal Examination
You have had a vaginal examination which you found a little sore but you want another one to check your progress.
  • What you want to do
You are a lot more comfortable up right and/or leaning on something. You plan to have a warm shower once the midwife has checked you over.

Also check your birth plan which is in the antenatal notes in the Resource Pack for the decisions you have made about your labour.

Here are some questions you may wish to ask.

  • When will I have my baby?
  • What will happen if I decide to have an epidural?
  • What do I have to do to have a waterbirth?
  • I want to lie down on the bed, is that alright?
  • I am worried about the baby. How do you know the baby is alright?

Learning objectives

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the midwife in the normal childbirth process.
  • Demonstrate effective evidence based, midwifery practice guided by a sound knowledge base.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of significance of concepts of accountability, responsibility and independent practice as they relate to midwifery practice in New Zealand.

Instructions for Scenario Three - Established Labour

1. Read the 'Introduction for students' which will give you a general background to the virtual birthing unit project. Set up your Second Life account and create your avatar. If you are using a personal computer, download Second Life.
2. Read the orientation package which will introduce you to Second Life and the skills you will need in this scenario.
3. Make your way with your partner to the back room of the birth unit, on the second floor.
4. Open the Resource Box - here are the instructions on how to open the Resource Box.
8. The scenario ends when the woman is happy she has all the information she needs and has had all her questions answered and the midwife is satisfied with her assessment of the situation and the plan of action that she has developed.
9. Once the scenario ends, the woman will pass her feedback form to the midwife. The midwife will also carry out a self-assessment for her personal learning.
10. The midwife will complete her documentation on a notecard and post it into the filing cabinet in the midwives' office. The documentation will be automatically sent to a midwifery lecturer (in real life) who will give you feedback on how effectively you have documented your assessment and actions. The midwife will also be able to send her documentation to the woman. The student playing the woman will also be able to give feedback about the documentation.
11. Feel free to ad lib and role play as much or as long as you like but please remember that the scenario is programed to be a 'normal' labour and birth. For example, if you decide you would like to practice how to deal with an obstetric emergency, you will be unable to do so because the scenario has not been set up to present that eventuality.
12. This scenario involves role play so do not be shy; let your imagination run so that you and your partner gain maximum learning benefit from this simulation. At the same time, have fun. If you make a mistake or miss an action or assessment, you can start all over again and keep practicing until you are happy with your performance.