Getting Through the Stages of Labor

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. All mothers and mothers-to-be would certainly agree. However, there comes a time when they temporarily forget that and that's when they're in labor. Pregnancy labor, which happens in three stages and lasts for about 12 to 24 hours, can be one of the most painful things you'll ever have to undergo in your life. But this shouldn't discourage you from having a baby. After all, there are a lot of ways to deal with each labor stage and get through with it with flying colors.

First Stage of Labor
The first stage of labor is usually the longest part. It can last for up to 20 hours. Yes, that's almost one whole day. This stage starts when the cervix dilates or opens up. It ends when the cervix has fully dilated to 10 centimeters. Contractions get stronger and stronger as the cervix opens up bigger. Mild contractions are typically 15 to 20 minutes apart. Each contraction would be as long as 60 to 90 seconds. The contractions would then become more regular at less than five minutes apart. This part of the first stage of labor is called the latent phase. It's best to stay in the comfort of your home while you're at it.

Now when the cervix opens up to four to eight centimeters, you go to the active phase. By this time, the contractions are only 3 minutes apart with each one lasting for about 45 seconds. This is a good time for you to go to the hospital. Backache and increased bleeding in the vagina are commonly experienced during this phase. To get through with this painful stage, you need to try to change your position. Get on your hands and knees to relieve yourself of the excruciating pain in the back. Soaking in a tub of warm water or taking a warm shower can provide you with relief. Go on to practice the relaxation and breathing techniques that you learned from the Lamaze class.

When the amniotic membrane ruptures (this is more commonly known as your water breaking), the contractions get a lot stronger. Transition phase is here when the cervix opens up eight to 10 centimeters and the contractions are two to three minutes apart, lasting one minute each. Backache will worsen, bleeding from the vagina will be heavier, and more pressure will be felt in the rectum. Continue with the breathing and relaxation techniques. Listen to soothing music and think about calming thoughts.

The Second Stage of Labor
The second stage of labor is the delivery. This begins when the cervix has fully dilated to 10 centimeters. It goes on until the baby is born. The delivery stage can last for about two hours or longer. The contractions will feel different. They will be two to five minutes apart with each one lasting from 60 to 90 seconds. There will be a strong urge for you to push with each contraction. Be sure to take deep breaths with each and every contraction.

The Third Stage of Labor
Finally, the baby is born and that's the start of the third stage of labor. During this time, the placenta is separated from the uterine wall and passed through the vagina. Also called the "afterbirth" stage, this one is the shortest and least painful part of the entire process. It will last from a few minutes to almost half an hour. Contractions felt during this time are a lot less painful.

 


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