Labor And Delivery
Every labor and delivery includes certain stages, but each birth is unique, especially yours! Even if you have had a baby before, each time is different.
Yes, giving birth is hard work but the reward is priceless
What will it feel like? How much will it hurt? How long will it last? No one can tell you for sure because your body will handle labor and delivery in its own way. However, learning all you can ahead of time will help lessen some of the anxiety for you and your partner, and help you both be ready when the time comes.
The three stages of labor
There are three stages of labor:
- First stage: early labor and active labor
- Second stage: lasts through the birth, with the baby traveling down and out of the birth canal
- Third stage: occurs after your baby is born, when the placenta is delivered
In this initial phase of labor, the muscles of the uterus start to tighten (contract) and then relax. These contractions help to thin (efface) and open (dilate) the cervix (the opening at the bottom of the uterus) so the baby can pass through the birth canal.
Stage one has three phases:
1. Early. Early contractions are usually irregular and typically last less than a minute. This stage of labor can be uncomfortable and may last from a few hours to several days.
2. Active. Contractions become strong and regular and last about a minute. Now is when you should go to the hospital or birthing center. The pain of contractions vary from moderate to intense.
3. Transition. The cervix will open completely. If there are no problems, the baby should be in position to be born.
The cervix is completely dilated and the baby is born. Hooray…you’re now a mom!
This stage occurs after your baby is born. You’ll continue to have contractions until the placenta is delivered.
How can you manage the pain?
Yes, labor is painful. Having a support person by your side, trying different positions and using breathing exercises can all help you cope with the accompanying pain. Many women listen to music or use imagery to get their mind off the pain and help them relax.
Of course, it’s very common to receive pain medicine, such as an epidural injection, which partially or fully numbs the lower body. Even if you plan on natural childbirth (no pain medication), it can be comforting to know that you can get pain relief if you want it.