Know the Signs and Stages of Labor

The labor of each woman, even from one pregnancy to the next, is extraordinary. Labor is often finished in a matter of hours, though it can sometimes stretch to almost a day-long process.

Labor can test the physical and emotional capacity of a woman, but the results are nothing short of magical.

When that happens, you won’t know how labor and birth will unfold. Nonetheless, you should plan for that big day by understanding the usual sequence of happenings. Read on to learn about what you can expect, as well as the signs that labor is near.

Know the Signs and Stages of Labor
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The Signs and Stages of Labor

Step 1: Early Labor and Active Labor

The first stage of labor and birth occurs when you start to feel regular contractions, which cause the cervix to open (dilate) and soften, shorten, and thin (effacement). That helps the baby to pass into the canal of birth. The first stage is the longest of the 3 phases. It is actually split into two separate phases — early labor (latent period) and active labor.

Early Labor

Your cervix dilates and wipes off during early labor. You may feel moderate, intermittent contractions. When your cervix starts to open, you may find a clear, purple, or slightly bloody vaginal discharge. It is probably the mucus plug that blocks the opening of the cervix during pregnancy.

How long it will last: It is uncertain for early labor. The average length for first-time mums varies from hours to days. The subsequent deliveries are also shorter.

How you should doit: It’s up to you before the contractions increase in frequency and strength. Late labor is not especially painful for many women. Continue remaining calm.

Active Labor

Now it’s time to continue the real work. Your cervix should dilate from 6 centimeters to 10 cm during active labor. Your contractions are getting deeper, closer, and more frequent. 

You could cramp your hands and feel nauseated. You can feel your water spill — if you don’t already have it — and experience increased pressure in your back. If you haven’t already gone to your labor and delivery clinic, it’s time now.

Do not be surprised if your initial excitement is diminishing as the work progresses, and the pain increases. If you want pain relief or anesthesia, inquire. You will work with your healthcare team to make the right decision for you and your baby.

How long it lasts: It sometimes takes four to eight hours or more for intensive labor. Your cervix can, on average, dilate to around one centimeter per hour.

What you should do: Look for help and guidance from your labor coach and health care team. To counter your growing pain, try breathing and calming techniques. Use what you learned in your childbirth class, or ask for suggestions from your health care team.

When you need a C-section, putting food inside your stomach will cause complications. If your health care provider thinks you might need a C-section, instead of a large, solid meal, he or she may recommend small amounts of clear liquids, such as water, ice chips, popsicles, and juice.

The last part of active labor — often called transition — can be especially intense and painful. Contractions are coming close together and can last between 60 and 90 seconds. Pressure can be felt in your lower back and rectum. When you are getting the need to drive, tell your health care provider.

If you want to push but are not entirely dilated, your health care provider may be asking you to hold back.

Step 2: Your Baby is Born

The time is ready! In the second stage of labor, you deliver your infant.

How long it lasts: pushing your baby into the world can take from a few minutes to a few hours or more. For first-time moms and women who never had an epidural, it might take longer.

What can you do: Push. During each contraction, your health care provider will ask you to bear down or tell you when to push. Or you may be prompted to push when you feel the need.

Do not keep stress within your face when you drive. Lockdown, and concentrate on moving where it counts. Experiment with different positions where possible before you find one that feels best.

When squatting, sitting, standing, you can move – even on your hands and knees.

You might be told to press more softly at some stages or not at all. Slowing down allows the room to stretch rather than tear your vaginal tissues. You can ask to feel the baby’s head between your legs, see it in a mirror, and stay motivated.

Know the Signs and Stages of Labor
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You’ll likely feel a great sense of relief after your baby is born. The infant can be carried in your arms or on your abdomen. 

Cheer the moment. But there’s still a lot going on. You must deliver the placenta during the third stage of labor…