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The Stages of Giving Birth

13 May 2011 No Responses

After approximately 9 months of developing a fetus, the process of labor begins. Some women don’t recognize true labor, they confuse it with false labor.  False labor has all the same symptoms of true labor except the cervix is not dilating.

All labors are different and first time mothers need to be ready for anything.

With that, a woman’s body goes through a series of stages before a baby is born and these three stages are a part of the labor process.

Stage One: Early and Active Labor

Early Labor

This is the longest phase in labor.  During labor the cervix contracts and dilates.  In early labor you can feel mild contractions.  When true labor commences you can feel strong, gradual and very painful contractions.

Labor consists of the cervix contracting and dilating, pushing the baby down.

During this stage you can feel the contractions but you’re spared the intense pain.  The contractions usually last between 30 and 90 seconds, and this stage can last a few days or just a few hours.

Most women don’t even notice it or are unsure if labor has begun.  If the contractions are regular, you are now in the stage where the cervix is being dilated.

Active Labor

This is still part of stage one and is where the real work begins.  The cervix dilates to 10 cm, or ‘full dilation.’  The contractions are strong, lasting longer and getting closer together.  Some women report feeling pressure in their lower back.  There is such intensity that pain medication is often given at this time.

First time moms are typically in this phase longer, often more than 8 hours.  Veterans are usually faster.

At the end of the first stage of labor you will reach what’s referred to as the ‘transition.’

This is very intense and the pain is often difficult to endure.  You may have the urge to ‘push,’  but are not yet fully dilated.  Pushing now could cause tearing or swelling, that could further delay your delivery.

Stage 2: The Birth

The time has finally arrived.  Stage two can last a few minutes to several hours.  It’s time to push the baby out with each contraction.

After the head is delivered, the airways are cleared and the doctor will make sure the umbilical cord is free.  The rest of the body will slide out shortly afterward.

Stage 3: Placenta Delivery

After the baby is born you will likely feel relieved.  Enjoy the moment.  During the third stage your doctor will deliver the placenta and ensure your bleeding is controlled.  This normally takes 5-10 minutes.  Your body will keep contracting until the placenta is delivered and your doctor will check to make sure it’s intact.

Although not fun, these three stages of labor are necessary to bring your new baby into the world.

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