Childbirth is one of the most awaited moments of the expecting parents. Once the labor starts, it is official that it is time for the baby to arrive, a moment full of emotions.
Women who are totally new to childbirth usually have a lot of questions in mind regarding stages of labor. If you are looking for some answers as well, you have come to the right place.
We all know in general that once a pregnant woman goes into labor, soon we will get to see the baby. But the question is for how long does a woman go into labor? What happens when she goes into labor? What are the stages of labor?
Signs of you are going into labor:
- The water breaks.
- Cramps and back pain.
- Strong and constant contractions.
- Vaginal discharge
labor isn’t just about contractions and the dilating of the cervix. A lot of things happen during labor. labor during pregnancy has 3 stages.
Stage 1 – Full Cervical Dilation
This is the longest stage of all the 3 stages of labor. This stage begins with the onset of the contractions which lasts up to 12 hours on average. However, mothers who are pregnant for the first time may experience a longer duration of contractions for up to 36 hours.
Stage 1 of labor has three phases – latent, active, and transition phase.
Latent phase – During this phase, the mother experiences mild contractions with prominent gaps in between. The contractions induce the cervix to open up and widen for the delivery of the baby. Prior to the labor, the cervix stays firm and long in shape.
The intensity of the contraction is almost like the cramps during your periods. During this phase, the water breaks if it has not already taken place.
In the initial stages of the latent phase, the contractions may come and go and last for about 30 to 40 seconds on average. According to the American pregnancy association, the cervix dilates up to 3 cm during the latent phase of labor. The duration of the latent phase is about 12 – 20 hours on average.
Active phase – When the contractions start to get constant or longer in duration, it is the end of the latent phase and the active phase of stage 1 of pregnancy begins.
The contractions during the active phase of labor are much more frequent and occur in shorter gaps. The intensity of the contractions is also much stronger than in the latent phase.
Here, the cervix dilates faster up to 9 cm on average. The active labor phase lasts about 5 hours on average. It is the official time to get admitted to the hospital for delivery.
Transition phase – The toughest of the entire journey and it is also the shortest in duration in comparison to the other two phases.
During the transition phase, the cervix dilation continues further at a slower pace. The baby comes down towards the birth canal during the transition phase and further exerts pressure. The mother may experience hot flashes with lots of sweating or may feel chilly as well. She may also feel nauseated and may even vomit.
The mother may experience continuous contractions, up to 2 hours on average and stronger in intensity. The cervix dilates up to 10 cm during this phase.
During the transition, the mother should have someone by her side for support. Breathing exercises help the mother a lot during this stage.
When the cervix dilates up to 10 cm, the first stage of labor comes to an end.
Stage 2 – Delivery of the Baby
After the cervix is dilated as per requirements, the mother can push the baby out. Any comfortable position for the mother will be of great help in this situation. With each push, the baby gradually comes out. The mother will get a natural urge to push during this stage. The contractions continue in this stage as well.
This second stage of labor may last up to 2 to 3 hours on average. Some doctors also suggest epidural to the mothers at this point to help with the labor pain.
With continued pushes and rest in between, the baby finally emerges. A moment for which the mother has been waiting for 9 long months.
The baby remains covered in a whitish substance along with some of the mother’s blood which is known as vernix. The umbilical cord is finally cut and the baby is taken for cleaning and is immediately given into the mother’s arms under normal circumstances. Also, before cutting the cord, doctors give the baby to the mother for a skin-to-skin contact which induces bonding.
A little heads up – Perineal tearing due to vaginal childbirth is highly possible which requires stitching.
Stage 3 – Expulsion of Placenta
With the arrival of the baby finally and overcoming the hardest part of the pregnancy, the last stage left is the placental expulsion. The contractions will continue to expel the placenta out of the mother’s body. This stage lasts up to 30 minutes on average. Some doctors or midwives may also suggest injections to speed up the process of the expulsion.
With the final uterine contractions, the mother gets the urge to push out the placenta. And once it is out, some amount of blood with it is normal. The doctors check if everything is alright or not and will act accordingly.
Delivery of a baby sounds frightening with all the different things going around during the final moments. But you will cherish this exact same moment later once you get your baby in your arms. You will be a proud mom to have successfully overcome the hardest part of pregnancy you will get to embark on a new journey together with your spouse.
On a different point, to get through the childbirth smoothly, it is always a good idea to take Lamaze classes during pregnancy.
After the childbirth, you have to take proper care of yourself and the baby as well. If you are new to this, take some advice from your loved ones and experts as well. Also, always trust your maternal instincts as well. Those can never get wrong in most cases.