3 Phases of Labor

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What are the periods of labor?

The labor goes in 3 phases.


When you arrive at the hospital, you will be met and placed in pre-natal ward where an obstetrician will examine the cervix to determine your phase. When the cervix expands by 3 centimeters, you will be moved to the maternity ward.

At that stage (in most cases) you get intravenous and the monitoring of the fetus starts, which allows to control the uterine contractions and to determine the state of health of the baby.

The due time is coming!

1) The first phase is the cervical dilatation. It lasts about 8 hours, if it’s first labor for you. Thanks to the uterine contractions the fetus moves to the cervix, stimulating its progressive dilatation.

This dilatation is slow enough: about 1 centimeter per hour during the first phase of labor, then – 2 centimeters per hour up to a maximum opening of 10 cm. Eventually the labor becomes more intense, and the contractions -longer and more painful.

At the cervical dilatation from 3 cm to 7 cm you’ll get an epidural anesthesia, if you decide to apply it.

2) The second phase is the bearing-down pain. It can last from 10 to 40 minutes in the first pregnancy, if you are multiparous – time is reduced.

The bearing-down pain starts with the full cervical dilatation of 10 centimeters and lasts until the birth of your baby. When the child goes to the lower part of the pelvis, contractions become more frequent and eventually happen every 2 minutes.

The fetus starts to move to the lower part of the pelvis with bent down head pressed to the breast. He continues to move down through the birth canal, his head position changes, neck straightened, turning to face the bottom. In this moment you need push: the pressure of his head on your perineum feels very intense, and you may notice a strong burning or stinging sensation as your tissue begins to stretch.

A labor coach will say if you are ready for pushing. You’ll start your breathing exercises, relax and push, relax and push. Sometimes there is a risk of the perineal rupture if its tissue is not elastic enough. In this case, episiotomy will be necessary. You’ll push at regular intervals, usually three times with each contraction, or as you feel the urge.

You might want to rest for one contraction if you’re getting tired. Once your baby’s head has appeared the practitioner helps to get it and you can continue to push but softly. Then the labor coach will help to guide the shoulders and torso out and those cute little legs.

You’ll probably be able to hold your baby right away and you’ll revel in that first lusty cry (don’t worry if he don’t cry right away).

Shortly after delivery, your baby’s umbilical cord will be cut by your practitioner or your partner if he wants. The practitioner takes care of him and then put him on your stomach for a few hours. After it you rest in the ward for 2-3 hours. Also during the first hours you can put the baby to the breast, if you choose to breastfeed.

An obstetrician will advise you the best way to for beginning the feeding. Several years ago, babies used to get a bathe immediately after the birth. Nowadays, doctors prefer to give a first bathe on the day after the birth.

3) The third phase is delivering the placenta. This last stage of childbirth usually lasts from five to 20 minutes or more.

Mild contractions that last about a minute each (you may not even notice them, if you can believe that) will help separate the placenta from the uterine wall and move it through the birth canal so that you can push it out.

Your practitioner may help speed up the process by putting gentle pressure on your uterus. Your caregiver will examine the placenta to make sure it’s all there. Then she’ll check you thoroughly to spot any tears in your perineum that need to be stitched.

If you tore or had an episiotomy, you’ll get an injection of a local anesthetic before being sutured. You may want to hold your newborn while you’re getting stitches – it can be a great distraction.

A full-term baby weights approximately from of 3,000 to 3,500 grams, and its height is 50 centimeters.

Duration of labor can vary greatly. On average it lasts 13 hours at nulliparous mothers and 8:00 – at multiparous. In the 70 years of the twentieth century, the average length of the first birth was 48 hours!