Three Stages of Labor
Pregnancy labor is divided into three stages that usually last for 12 to 14 hours in the first pregnancy and 8 to 10 hours for second time mothers. During first stage or early labor the cervix contracts and widens. Second stage includes the actual delivery of the baby. The third and final stage encompasses the separation and delivery of placenta.
Stage I- The first stage which is usually the longest part of labor marks progressive changes in the cervix. During this stage, cervix gradually opens. The contractions may be 15 minutes or more apart. Later, the contractions become stronger and closer coming every five minutes and lasting thirty seconds. Cervix begins widening from about 4 to 10 centimetres. At the end of the stage, some women experience more frequent contractions though they are still mild. During each contraction, try to walk around the room. If you are tired, lying on bed on left side may make you feel good.
Stage II- In the second stage, contractions may be a little further apart. Once the cervix is fully dilated and the uterus contracts, it exerts pressure on the baby and you feel a spontaneous urge to push. With each push, the baby starts becoming visible. You may start feeling strong burning as the tissues begin to stretch. A slow and unhurried delivery can avoid perineum from tearing. If you get too anxious, try some relaxation exercises. This stage may last for two hours or more and continue until the baby is born.
Stage III- Just after the baby is born; the uterus begins to contract again. The first few contractions generally expel the placenta. Mothers are encouraged to feed their babies during this time as it helps the uterus to contract and separate the placenta. Early breastfeeding is good for the baby and satisfying for the mothers too. Feeding starts the releases of Oxytocin hormone which causes contractions and helps the uterus maintain firmness. If the uterus doesn’t contract properly, you’ll continue to bleed. If you do not nurse and the uterus is not firm, you will be given Oxytocin to make your uterus contract. Usually, the third stage lasts for just ten to fifteen minutes.
In order to ensure smooth pregnancy, talk to your gynecologist and set a birth plan. It is always good to know about the three labor stages. You need to correctly understand when your body gives the signs the full blown labor. Speak to friends who are already mothers. Enjoy the first glimpse of your new born. You and your partner should share this special time together.