Stages of labor

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Overview

Each woman’s labor is unique, being different even from one task to another.

In some cases, labor can last for several hours or even less, in others, it tests the physical and emotional stamina of the mother.

No one will know how a woman will labor until it starts.


Contents

1. Overview
2. Stage 1
3. Stage 2
4. Stage 3


Stage 1

First stage starts when occur the contractions that causes progressive changes of the cervix and ends when the cervix is fully dilated. This stage is divided into two phases: latent labor and active labor.

- Latent labor – during this phase the cervix begins to dilate and open. Pregnant woman will feel contractions of mild to moderate intensity. They can last between 30-90 seconds and will occur at regular intervals.

- Active labor – coincides with the actual labor. The cervix will dilate to 10 cm. Contractions will become stronger, will last longer and will be more frequent. Near the end of this phase, appears the feeling of continuity of contractions, sharp and growing pressure on the back.


Stage 2

The second stage of labor begins when the cervix is fully dilated and ends with the birth of the child. Many women find that the phases of the second stage are more comfortable than those specific to active labor, as opportunities to push the child offers some improvement in discomfort.

If the child is positioned in the lower pelvis, the mother might still feel the continuous need to push quite early in this stage. Each contraction of the uterus exert some pressure on the child, committing it to the birth canal.

Still, if the doctor made an epidural anesthesia to the pregnant woman, loss of sensation may diminish the need to push and she can’t feel when the baby is out. With each uterine contraction the strength of the uterus combined with abdominal muscle strength (if she pushes active) put some pressure on the infant to help them move through the birth canal.

When the contractions stopped and the uterus is relaxed, the baby’s head will retire gently, in a kind of progression, two steps forward and one back. The whole stage can last from several minutes to several hours. Without epidural, the average duration of this stage is 20 minutes, if you have previously born vaginally. If you had the epidural, the second stage lasts longer.


Stage 3

After the baby is born, you will probably feel a sense of relief. You might want to keep him in your arms or abdomen. During the third stage of labor, obstetricians will remove the placenta and make sure the bleeding is under control.

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