Stages of Labor – What to Expect
Every labor will be different for each woman. Some will be over in no time, while others will test all of the woman’s stamina and endurance through hours of gruelling labor. But, what they can expect are three stages to go through when the time comes for baby to make its debut.
*First Stage of Labor
The first stage begins when contractions start coming at regular intervals and the cervix begins to dilate and thin out in preparation for the baby moving into the birth canal. It is the longest stage of labor, and it is actually divided into two stages as well. Early labor starts as the contractions begin to get more intense and occur at faster intervals. Bloody discharge may be noticed. During this stage, most women are able to take a shower or walk around to try easing some of the discomfort.
The active stage will bring contractions closer together and much stronger. By the end of the active stage, which is called transition, the cervix will be completely dilated to 10 centimetres and the contractions will feel like they are one after the other, sometimes feeling like they never stop. As the baby descends further into the pelvis, the woman will feel extreme pressure and may start feeling the urge to “bear down” or push.
*Second Stage of Labor
The second stage is when the baby will be born. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours of pushing before anything happens. Women will likely be instructed to push with each contraction, easing off slightly as the baby’s head begins to emerge.
*Third Stage of Labor
During the third stage, the placenta will be expelled. This normally happens within five to ten minutes, sometimes up to half an hour. There will still be contractions which help deliver the placenta. The healthcare provider needs to be sure that bleeding is under control and will examine the placenta to be sure that it is all intact.
At this point, labor is over and it is time to enjoy the new baby.