Stages of labor
The most important and dreaded stage of pregnancy is childbirth.
Giving birth is one of the most unsettling and worrying times for moms, especially if we are newborns and don’t have much knowledge about what happens at different stages of labor.
Although each birth is unique and each pregnant woman lives it differently, it is important that we learn a little more about the stages of labor and what we will experience in each of them.
The greatest fear of any future mom is the time of delivery, knowing their stages will help you feel safer and calmer
What are the stages of labor? What happens in each of them? What will I experience and what should I do?
These are some of the most frequent doubts that come to mind when we think about the moment of birth. Knowing the stages of labor and what each stage is characterized in will help us be calmer and feel more secure.
What are the stages of labor?
When our baby is about to be born and everything seems to indicate that his state of health is the best, it means that we are already prepared to begin labor.
Women usually give birth between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy and begin with what is called labor, the stages of dilation, expulsion, or birth of the baby, and delivery.
Each pregnancy is different the length of time the stages of childbirth one mother and another usually vary
Since each pregnancy is different, the length of time between one mother and another varies greatly. For first-time women, the stages of labor usually last between ten and twenty hours, however in other women it can last more or less than this period of time, everything depends on each body.
The time of delivery and the birth of the baby is divided into 3 stages:
Let’s see how each stage of labor develops and what you will experience in each of them so that you can face it with much more tranquility and without so many fears.
Each stage of labor is characterized by different emotions and physical challenges for the mother.
Stages of Labor: Dilation
The first stage of labor begins just as soon as contractions appear, which cause small, progressive changes in our cervix to the point where they are completely dilated.
The first stage of labor is also divided into two distinct phases:
Phase 1: Early dilation
The first phase of the dilation stage is usually the longest, but also the least painful. In this case, the cervix will be erased and then dilated, i.e. the cervix will be shortened and opened to approximately 3 cm. In new mothers, this process can take several hours or days, even without painful contractions.
During this time of dilation, our neck should be widened in its totality to facilitate the exit of our baby. Fortunately in this phase, contractions usually occur sporadically and with mild intensity, although it almost always varies from woman to woman.
What can you do about it?
In this first phase of labor, you should just try to relax and do some light activities that won’t take up much of your energy.
Ideally, you should try to sleep or rest between each contraction so that you are calm as you prepare for the time of delivery.
- It’s very important that you stay hydrated. Don’t stop drinking too much water and constantly going to the bathroom, because if the bladder is full, it will be much more difficult for your uterus to contract.
- To prepare you can start practicing some breathing exercises or doing things that keep you busy and distracted like watching a movie, reading a magazine, cooking…
Although you don’t need to pay much attention to your contractions, we recommend that you take time out from time to time to notice their evolution and frequency.
Phase 2: Active dilation
Once we pass the first phase, the contractions begin to become more frequent and intense. From this moment, our cervix will begin to dilate from 3 cm to 7 cm, and the symptoms will be much more noticeable.
Depending on each case, we will feel back pain, cramping similar to menstruation, expulsion of the mucous plug and in some cases the rupture of amniotic fluid, ie the “water break”.
When you experience all of these symptoms, some women feel nervous and insecure, so we recommend that you try to relax, get as comfortable as possible, and lie on your left side so that you can watch more calmly if contractions are frequent for the next 30 minutes.
If you notice that the contractions have diminished, or are not noticeable, you can relax because this is a farce alarm.
But if, on the other hand, they intensify and become more and more frequent, it is time to go to the hospital.
The ideal is to wait until the contractions occur every 5 minutes for at least one hour, since the most convenient thing is to stay at home and in a quiet environment where we can relax, rest and take a shower.
It is in the active dilation phase when we must enter the delivery room to be monitored continuously.
It is precisely at this moment when we will be offered the different alternatives that exist to alleviate our pain, such as the application of heat in the lower back, nitrous oxide or epidural anesthesia.
What can you do during this stage?
Since the contractions you will experience in this phase are much more painful and frequent, it is very important that you try to stay calm.
To get it, you can try some pain relief techniques like:
- Breathing exercises and relaxation or visualization of a point, as they are often very helpful at this time.
- If you feel the need to walk, you can do so as long as you stop between each contraction, because it will also help you feel relief.
- If, on the other hand, you feel tired, it is best to lie on your left side and ask your partner to give you a massage on your back or better yet take a long shower of hot water, as the heat helps a lot to alleviate the pain of contractions.
Contractions during this stage will last about 30-45 seconds, while you rest between 5 and 30 minutes.
Phase 3: Transition dilation
In the phase known as transition dilation our cervix will have already reached 10 cm or full dilation.
At this moment we can feel that the contractions do not end up disappearing as before and that they come with a natural sensation of pushing. Although it is the most difficult and intense, it is usually shorter than the previous ones, especially for those pregnant women who have already had children.
What can you do about it?
Since this is the most difficult phase of the first stage of labor, you will need a lot of encouragement and support from your partner and family members. If you haven’t chosen to relieve the pain with epidural anesthesia, the sensation of pain will make you feel like you can’t take it anymore, but relax! there are always things you can do to try to relieve yourself.
- If you like it, you can ask for a gentle massage or a stronger massage in the back area or simply change position. If, for example, you feel a lot of pressure on your lower back, you can try putting yourself down on all fours; it works great for many women.
- Remember to stay focused and think of one contraction at a time, visualizing when your baby is in your arms. This will help you and motivate you to continue to endure each contraction.
Stages of Labor: Expulsion
The second part of the stages of labor corresponds to expulsion and begins once we are fully dilated. By now, our baby may start to descend, but it is also likely that he has already begun to do so before. The contractions of the second stage can become a little easier to bear, because by pushing between each contraction, we will feel a great relief.
It’s time to push!
When we begin to feel the need to push, our doctor should guide us on how and when we should do it, so that we can help the baby to continue down the birth canal. Ideally, we start right at the moment when we feel a strong need to push and start trying harder between each contraction.
This is the most intense moment and the one that requires the most effort from us, but with each contraction, the strength of our uterus and the movements of the muscles as we push, your baby will be able to continue to descend through the birth canal. With each push it will be lower and lower, there will be less and less left for you to see your baby!
The expulsion part is the most intense moment of labor and the one that requires the greatest effort on the part of the mother.
The duration of this important stage depends on each woman, however the most likely to last between a few minutes and an hour.
When only one more push is needed to remove the baby’s head, the doctor will aspirate the baby’s mouth and nose and check that the umbilical cord is free. Now he only makes two or three more bids that can pull out the shoulders and the rest of his little body.
At that time, the baby will be placed on top of you so that you can see it, kiss it and have skin-to-skin contact before being taken for testing and dressing.
What can you do about it?
When your doctor tells you that you are fully dilated and ready to push, try to relax your pelvic and pelvic muscles and find a position that makes you feel comfortable.
Remember not to overexert yourself and follow your baby’s clues at every contraction so you can rest and pick up the momentum again. The ideal is to start bidding only when you feel the need to do so, if you wait a little and you will feel less exhausted and frustrated at the end.
You can ask your doctor to show you with the help of a mirror your progress and the baby’s head. It will undoubtedly motivate you to keep trying!
In the event that the placenta does not detach on its own, the doctor will need to do a manual removal of the placenta.
Stages of Labor: Childbirth
Although the most difficult and important thing is over, one last thing is still needed, the expulsion of the placenta.
The delivery stage can happen spontaneously and take 2 to 30 minutes. When you are in this stage, you may notice some tiny contractions that help the uterus contract and release the placenta into the vagina.
It is also likely that the doctor will help you with some massages in the lower belly area and press to remove it. You’ll need to push a little more to make it easier to get out. It’s usually a very short push that doesn’t require much strength and isn’t painful at all.
The hardest part of labor is over. In this moment there is only the expulsion of the placenta and enjoy your baby.
After the placenta is expelled, your uterus will naturally contract to close the blood vessels and decrease bleeding after giving birth.
If you had an episotomy, you will have some stitches that you will have to take care of with special hygiene until they fall off on their own.
You can take advantage of holding your baby in your arms and enjoy him while he is sewing your stitches, as the baby can be a great distraction right now.
What can you do about it?
Once you have given birth to your baby, the doctor will be very attentive to the signs of placental abruption so that you can expel the placenta. You may be asked to push a little, so try to do it the same way you did when you expelled your baby.
Feeding your baby will help your uterus contract and you can deliver the placenta more quickly.
The stages of labor are usually a little long and exhausting for the mother and especially because they are accompanied by many contractions. However, it is an extremely special process because it allows the birth of your baby in a natural way.
Once the doctor checks that your baby is healthy and that you have expelled all the tissues, the delivery is over and you can hold your baby in your arms, enjoy him and give him all the love, attention and care he needs.
If you have any questions about the stages of labor, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.
s very tired, practice breathing techniques and rest everything you need between bids. By the time you expel the placenta, you’ll surely be able to enjoy your beautiful baby.