The body has its way of completing its processes if there are no hindrances to its functioning properly. When it comes to labor they say that it is best if things are going along smoothly by themselves. It will eventually come to a successful end. With this in mind there are three different phases of labor.
The first stage of labor begins when contractions start. These contractions should give rise to some changes in the cervix. It ends when your cervix has dilated fully. It is divided into two parts.
· Early labor
This is when contractions begin and your cervix begins to gradually thin out and dilate. The cervix gets dilated to around 3cm.
· Active labor
Dilation occurs faster and contractions are more prolonged, closer and stronger as time goes by. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘pushing stage’. You are dilated from 3cm to 7cm and you may feel like pushing but it’s not yet time.
Early labor is normally not that bad so you can still get some stuff done. Assemble your things; take a warm bath and a little sleep if you can. You will need to be well-rested for the task ahead. The mucus plug will be expelled and you will see a mucus discharge that has a little blood. Call your doctor if it is more than just a little.
Here the cervix has dilated further and is fully open and ready to let the baby out. You will probably be lying on your left side and doing the breathing exercises before this to ease the pain. Pushing comes very soon after this.
The strength of the contractions and the action of your pushing will help get the baby out. The doctor will guide you on when to push so that both are combined effectively. The baby first crowns when the top of its head is visible. The shoulders and body then come next and the pushing is over! This can last between 15 minutes and an hour and it is the shortest stage.
This is when the placenta is delivered. This is totally painless so don’t worry.
If it is your first baby then labor will last quite a while, between 12 and 14 hours but subsequent babies will not take as long. Time taken and the amount of pain experienced varies with ever y woman so don’t use someone else’s experience as a yardstick.