Childbirth is a fantastic journey with various phases, each with its characteristics and challenges. Understanding these stages gives expectant women crucial information about what to anticipate during labour and delivery. Every stage, from the beginning of early labour to the thrilling moment of delivery and beyond, has unique landmarks and experiences that add to the beautiful experience of welcoming a new life. Being aware of these phases helps women prepare for labour and delivery by providing an understanding of the unique features and difficulties that arise at each stage.
TC46 connected with Dr. Nagaveni. R, Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, HRBR Layout, Bangalore to talk about the different stages of labour and what expecting mothers may go through.
Stage 1: Early Labor and active labour
Early labour initiates the first stage of childbirth, lasting six to twelve hours, with contractions occurring every five to fifteen minutes for about a minute each. When these contractions fall into a consistent pattern—five minutes apart for an hour—it’s time for the hospital. Active labour, spanning 4-8 hours, intensifies with contractions every three minutes, urging baby descent. Expect increased discomfort, lower back and leg pressure, and the potential for the amniotic sac to rupture, causing water leakage.
What to Expect:
- Contractions: Contractions are initially mild, lasting around 30-45 seconds and occurring irregularly.
- Cervical Changes: The cervix starts to efface (thin out) and dilate (open). Progression is slow during this phase, typically reaching around 3-4 centimetres of dilation.
- Physical Symptoms: Women may experience mild discomfort, backache, and possible light spotting. Staying hydrated, resting, and practising breathing exercises to manage pain are essential.
Stage 2: Pushing and Birth
The goal of the second stage of labour, which can last from a few minutes to many hours, is to force the baby out. During contractions, guidance is given to push while experimenting with different positions for comfort. Gently pushing or pausing might help stop ripping. The baby’s body follows the head when it emerges, and medical professionals clean the airway if necessary. The baby’s iron reserves increase for healthy growth when the cord is uncut.
What to Expect:
- Pushing: With the cervix fully dilated, the woman actively pushes during contractions to help the baby move through the birth canal.
- Baby’s Descent: The baby’s head crowns as it progresses through the vaginal opening.
- Physical Symptoms: A strong urge to push, accompanied by a burning or stinging sensation as the baby’s head emerges.
- Guidance during contractions: Instructions for pushing while trying various comfortable positions.
- Techniques for avoiding tearing: Gentle pushing or pausing to prevent tearing.
- Delayed cord cutting: Promotes increased iron reserves for the baby’s healthy growth.
Stage 3: Delivery of the Placenta
The emphasis moves to bonding once the baby is born, but the placenta must be delivered during the third stage of labour, which typically takes 30 to 60 minutes. Persistently light contractions facilitate placental migration, and then the baby is gently pushed out, frequently with the use of medicine to control bleeding. Healthcare professionals check for placental completeness, massage the abdomen to aid with uterine contractions, and, if necessary, seal vaginal tears.
What to Expect:
- Emotional mix: Relief, joy, fatigue, and immense love for the newborn.
- Continued contractions: Typically milder than active labour, aiding placental expulsion.
- Medication administration: Given to assist in placental delivery and reduce bleeding.
- Sensations: Mild discomfort or pressure during placental expulsion.
- Healthcare assessment: Placenta examination for completeness, evaluation for tears or complications.
- Focus on bonding: Shifts toward nurturing the connection with the newborn while healthcare professionals aid the mother’s recovery.
A baby’s hormonal trigger can start labour between 37 and 42 weeks, although medical induction may be required. Different tactics are used during various stages of work, such as early comfort measures, staying hydrated, and using epidurals to relieve discomfort.
Position adjustments and placental delivery are part of the second stage; haemorrhage management and episiotomy repair are part of the third. It is essential to see a doctor if you experience regular contractions or symptoms. Knowing these phases helps women overcome labour difficulties with the assistance of medical experts and the delivery team. This information facilitates securely managing the intensity of labour through educated communication and coping strategies.
Open up like never before and participate in conversations about beauty, entrepreneurship, mental health, menstrual & sexual health, and more. Desi women, join our community NOW!