If you are a first-time mom, then you may be worried about the labor and delivery portion of your pregnancy.
There are horror stories all over the internet that you’ve probably read that may make you a bit nervous and anxious about the birth.
However, don’t worry. Your body was created to undergo childbirth and with proper medical care, you can have an easy labor and delivery.
Stages of Labor
Women undergo three different stages of labor. In simple terms, the first stage is the time period between the onset of labor until the cervix is completely dilated.
The second stage is then defined as the period of time between the complete dilation of the cervix and the delivery of the baby. Finally, the third stage of delivery is the delivery of the placenta.
Each stage of labor has a normal time frame associated with it. If the stages of your labor exceed these normal time frames, then you may be a candidate for a cesarean section.
First Stage of Labor
The first stage of labor is the longest and is the stage that most women fear. Thinking about having hours upon hours of contractions often send anxiety through women. The first stage of labor can be divided into three phases.
The early labor phase is the onset of labor until the cervix is dilated to 3 cm. Most women experience this stage of labor while at home and before they even really know that they are in labor.
Once you have reached 35 or 36 weeks, your OB/GYN will begin to do weekly cervix checks to ensure that you are progressing appropriately.
Most women tend to be a few centimeters dilated before they ever reach the hospital, which is a great sign.
This means that if you are nervous about the first stage of labor, then you don’t need to be. You may be one of the lucky majority who goes through the first phase of the first stage of labor while at home relaxing.
If you haven’t dilated at all by the time it is time to deliver, then you may be induced. This means that you will be given medication to induce your labor. Whether you are induced or not, early labor may last around 8 to 12 hours.
The second phase of the first stage of labor is the active labor phase. This is the phase in which your cervix will dilate to approximately 7 cm.
This stage can last around 3 to 5 hours in total and is the time that you should head to the hospital if you were trying to labor some at home.
During the active stage of labor, you can expect contractions approximately every 3 to 5 minutes that last around one minute long. The contractions may get more intense as your cervix dilates more.
The transition phase of the first stage of labor is often the most tiring for the laboring mother. This is often the most challenging phase of labor, but also the shortest.
Once you enter the transition phase, you can expect contractions every 30 seconds to 2 minutes, and they could last for up to 90 seconds each. Fortunately, though, this phase of labor should only last 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Second Stage of Labor
The second stage of labor is the stage in which you will deliver your baby. Once you have gone through all three phases of the first stage of labor, you will be ready to push.
By this point, your nurses and OB/GYN may have already walked you through some practice pushes during your transition phase. The pushing stage of labor may take anywhere from a few minutes for seasoned moms to a few hours.
During this stage of labor, your nurses and OB/GYN will monitor you and the baby closely to ensure that you both are tolerating labor well and that you aren’t growing too tired.
If you are a new mom and grow tired during pushing, then you may be given a slight break in pushing or may need to start thinking about a c-section.
Third Stage of Labor
Once your baby has been born, then you reach the third stage of labor. This stage occurs when the placenta is delivered. Most women deliver the placenta within a few minutes of delivering their baby.
However, this stage of labor may take up to 30 minutes to complete. Once the placenta is delivered, then your OB/GYN will look for any lacerations or tears that occurred during labor and stitch any tears while you enjoy your brand new baby.
Labor can be long and eventful, but you can go into your labor and delivery knowing that in the end you will have a beautiful baby and all the pain will be worth it.