Pregnancy Labour Stages - What to Expect

If you are looking this up, you're probably just counting the days now, aren't you? And we understand that it seems overwhelming! Let us take you through the signs of labour during the three stages of labour and the final stage post childbirth to help you through the most awe-inspiring and yet frightening steps on this wonderful journey from pregnancy to motherhood.

The first stage Of Labour

This is the longest stage of pregnancy labour and can last up to 20 hours! The cervix starts slowly dilating and your body is now preparing to give birth. This stage has three distinct phases:

  • The Latent phase: The contractions slowly begin and are probably around 20 minutes or more apart in the 1st stage of labour. These are sometimes noticeable while at other times could feel like menstrual cramps. The doctor will advise you to monitor the timing of your contractions and rest at home

  • The Active phase: The contractions are now getting stronger and are probably less than 10 minutes apart. They are also getting stronger now with each lasting up to a minute. As they get stronger, you will find yourself unable to walk or speak. Your amniotic membrane may rupture causing a "water break". This is the stage where you get to a hospital. At this stage, you would require your hospital bag ready with all essentials for you and your baby. Explore the extensive hospital bag checklist here to ensure that you have everything handy, especially sufficient stock of baby diapers and wipes.

  • The Transitional phase: The cervix is close to complete dilation now and you will feel the strong urge to start pushing. Exhaustion will set in and you may feel cold. Many mothers discuss pain relief medications with their doctor to get through the baby delivery stage

Pro-tips - Consult your gynecologist during the third trimester of pregnancy and get their advice on these techniques:

  1. Put all of your breathing exercises to use now to help you manage the pain

  2. See which position helps you, sometimes being on your haunches may reduce discomfort

  3. A warm tub soak or shower will help immensely

The Second Stage Of Pregnancy Labour

You are now "fully dilated", that is your cervix has opened to about 10 cm. The 2nd stage of labour normally lasts around 2 hours. With painful contractions lasting more than 90 seconds, your urge to push is stronger than ever.

Your baby will now pass through the birth canal and vagina before it enters your world. You will feel the baby's head move lower in your pelvis and with each contraction descend further. Soon, you will see the baby's head emerge, followed by the rest of its body!

Pro-tips - Consult your gynecologist during the third trimester of pregnancy and get their advice on these techniques:

  1. Try various positions while pushing: squatting, lying on your side, kneeling or anything that helps. The more curl you put into the push, the faster it progresses

  2. Take deep breaths and try to get plenty of rest between contractions

The Third Stage Of Labour

Congratulations new mommy! The moment you have been waiting for has arrived. Hold your newborn close to your chest and enjoy the feeling of that baby skin against your tired body.

A small technicality remains - In the 3rd stage of labour you will feel the contractions start again to deliver the placenta as it separates from the uterus. The doctor will re-examine you to make sure it's all out and there is no unexpected bleeding.

And that's it!

The Fourth Stage Of Labour

The final stage of labour is the stage of recovery from the fatigue caused during childbirth. While the placenta is being discharged from your body it is suggested that mothers start breastfeeding their baby, since this helps the uterus contract which helps reduce chances of hemorrhage or excessive bleeding during the 4th stage of labour.

One of the true miracles of childbirth is how a mother can completely forget the overwhelming pregnancy labour pain she was just enduring as soon as her baby is placed in her arms! Here's to your bundle of joy and a world of happiness!

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