Stages of Labor

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Going through Stages of labor and then it's time to meet the Baby!

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers — strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength." —Barbara Katz Rothman

Labor is a natural process. Here's what can happen during the three stages of labor and birth and here’s what you can do to aid comfort-

Every woman's labor is unique, it even varies from one pregnancy to the next. For some labormay be over in a matter of hours. In other cases, it can testthe mother's physical and emotional stamina.

One will never know howlabor and childbirth will unfold for sure until it actuallytakes place. However, you might get an idea by acquiring the knowledge of the sequence of events.

Stage 1: Early labor and Active labor

The first stage of labor and birth begins when you start to feel regular contractions, which cause the cervix to start to dilate. This allows the baby to move into the birth canal. The first stage of labor is the longest out of all three stages. It is divided into two phases — Early labor and Active labor.

Early labor

During early labor, your cervix dilates up to 4 centimetres. You'll feel mild, irregular contractions at this time. You might probably spend most of your labor at home doing usual day to day activities.

You might even notice a clear, pink or slightly bloody discharge from your vagina when cervix will begin to open.Try to relax, rest, drink clear fluids, eat light meals and keep track of your contractions at this point.

How long it lasts: Early labor is unpredictable, it can vary from hours to days.

What you can do: Your contractions will slowly get stronger and increase in frequency and intensity.Try to stay as calm as possible.

You can try theseduring early labor:

• Go for a walk

• Take a shower or bath

• Listen to relaxing music

• Try to breathe or relax

• Change positions

If your water breaks or there is significant vaginal bleeding, call your doctor right away. Next, you step into active labor.

Active labor

Now begins the real work. During active labor, your cervix will dilate upto 10 centimetres. Your contractions will get stronger, closer together and regular. Your legs might cramp, and you might experience nausea. Your water might break, if it hasn't already and pressure might increase in your back. Now's the time to head for your delivery.

Don't lose your calm when pain keeps intensifying with time. Ask for pain medication if you feel like having it.

How long it lasts: Active labor often lasts for four to eight hours.

On average, your cervix dilates one centimetre per hour.

What you can do: Try breathing and relaxation exercise to overcome the growing discomfort and pain.

You can try these during active labor:

• Change positions

• Roll on birthing ball

• Take a warm shower or bath

• Take a light walk

If you are heading for a C-section, then having food in stomach can cause complications. Small amounts of clear liquids, like waterand juice, rather than a heavy meal is recommended.

The last part of active labor can be extremelyintense and painful. Contractions will come close together and can last 60 to 90 seconds.

If you start pushing too soon you can get tired and your cervix can swell, which can delay delivery. It is better to pant or blow through the contractions. Transition period generally lasts for 15 to 60 minutes and you need to hold in till it’s time to push.

Stage 2: The birth of your baby

Stage 2 is the time when you’ll deliver the baby!

How long it lasts: It can vary from a few minutes to a few hours or more to push your baby into the world. It might be longer for first-time mothers.

What you can do: Push! This is what is expected from you at this stage. Your doctorwill tell you when to start pushing and the journey begins.

When you push, don't hold tension in your face. Bear down and concentrate on pushing where it counts.

To keep you motivated, you might be asked to feel the baby's head between your legs or see it in a mirror.

After baby's head is out, the rest of the baby's body will follow shortly. Your doctor will then cut the umbilical cord.

Stage 3: Delivery of the placenta

After your baby is in arms, you'll most likely feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. Cherish the moment while you can. But there’s a lot still happening in your body. You are in the third stage of yourlabor, and you will deliver the placenta.

How long it lasts: The placenta is usually delivered in five to 30 minutes, but it can even lastan hour.

What you can do: Relax! We are sure by now your focus has most likely shifted to your baby.

You'll still have mild contractions but they’ll be less painful. Your doctor will ask you to push once more to deliver the placenta. You might be given medication to promote uterine contractions and minimize bleeding.

The doctor will examine the placenta to make sure it's intact. Any remaining fragments has to be removed from the uterus to prevent bleeding and infection in there.

Your doctor will examine whether you need stitches or repair of any tears of your vaginal region. If needed, it will be stitched after anesthesia.

Published on: 27th May 2021