Want to know more about the stages of labor? There are three stages in the childbirth process. They are based on changes in the uterus and cervix as labor processes. Often, the process of labor has been thought as a mystery.
Every woman’s labor is unique and is different from others. Even for the same woman, it differs from one pregnancy to another.
When everything goes smoothly, the three stages of labor are unfolded into three distinct parts.
1st stage of the labor process begins with the opening of the cervix i.e. dilation and thinning out, which means effacement in order to allow your baby to move through your birth canal.
This is the longest stage in the entire labor process. This stage is actually divided into three phases such as early labor, active labor and transition.
Early labor: During this phase, the dilation of cervix takes place from 0 cm to 3 cm. In early labor, you will experience mild to moderate strong contractions. Each contraction lasts for 30-60 sec and occurs at an interval of 5-20 min.
During this phase, you will observe a stringy, thick and blood-tinged discharge from your vagina when the cervix tries to open. This process is called as bloody show. You will experience some signs like upset stomach, backache, and diarrhea.
This phase is unpredictable and even lasts for several hours or days, particularly for first time mothers. For second or third deliveries, this phase lasts for very short time. For most of you, this phase is not that much uncomfortable.
The major problem that you will experience is anxiety. Do comfortable activities that help you to divert from the contractions. Take a walk, watch a movie or do some house hold chores that distract your mood.
Active labor: During this phase, cervix dilates up to 7 cm. Contractions will become stronger and very long. Each contraction lasts 45 sec to a min and occurs at an interval of 2-4 min. You will feel more pressure on your back.
The pain increases as your labor progresses. On an average, this phase lasts for 3-8 hours. For some pregnant women, this phase lasts for very short period if they initially have vaginal delivery.
In order to get relief, practice relaxation techniques. Make use of what you have learned in your childbirth classes or else ask for suggestions.
Transition: This is the last phase in 1st stage of labor process. In this phase, the dilation of cervix is from 7-10 cm. This is the shortest phase of the labor, but it is the most difficult one.
In this phase, the strength and frequency of contractions will increase greatly. You will find time only for hurried breathing between each contraction. Each contraction lasts up to 90 sec.
You will experience pain in your lower back and also rectum. For sometime, you will feel very hot and sweaty and from the next moment, you will feel cold and chilled. On average, the transition phase lasts for 15 min to 3 hours. If you had your previous delivery vaginally, then this phase lasts for very short time.
During the second stage of labor, you will give birth to your baby. This stage lasts for a minute to several hours or even more to push your baby into the new world. Often, this stage lasts longer for first time mothers and for the women who receive epidural injection.
Most of you push while lying on the bed. For some others, sitting or squatting works well. Some women want to get on their hands and knees or kneel when the labor coach supports their body. It is better to try for different positions until you find the one in which you feel comfortable.
During some point, you can also ask to push more gently or not at all. Delaying gives more time to stretch your vaginal area instead of tearing down. In order to stay motivated, feel that your baby’s head is in between your legs.
Once the baby’s head comes out, the airways will be cleared and your practitioner observes whether the umbilical cord is free or not. Rest of the baby’s body will come out within a short period of time.
You will feel great relief once your baby is born. During this stage of labor, delivery of the placenta takes place and your health care provider should control the bleeding. The delivery of placenta takes about 5-10 min. For first time moms, it will also last for 30 min.
Still, you will experience some mild contractions. The practitioner massages your lower abdomen to contract your uterus and to expel the placenta.
Your health care provider should examine whether there are any fragments, if so, they should be completely removed in order to prevent further infection and bleeding.