WHAT HAPPENS IN LABOUR

What happens in labourLabour progresses in three distinct stages. In the first stage the cervix gradually opens up. In the second stage the baby is pushed down the vagina and is born. And in the third stage the placenta comes away from the wall of the womb or is pushed out of the vagina.

Stages of Labour


The First Stage: Dilation of the cervix
The first stage is the longest stage, which usually lasts for 6 to 10 hours. It begins when the cervix (neck of the womb) starts to soften and starts opening up for the baby to pass and ends when it is fully diluted. In this stage initially you will feel mild contractions like cramping period pains which lasts for a minute or so and will recur at 15-20 minute interval. As the cervix widens up contractions become stronger with shorter intervals between them. Sometimes the process of softening of the cervix takes many hours before you are ready for delivery. This is when your cervix had opened (dilated) to atleast 3 cm.

Transition Phase
This is a phase, which starts at the end of the first phase and start of the second phase. As your cervix dilates to its full extent, contractions speed up to a rate of one in every 1-3 mins. If the membrane have not already ruptured (with water breaking) they are likely to do so now, as the contractions become more and more intense. At this stage which might last for a few minutes or an hour you are likely to experience shivering, vomiting, increased sweating, loss of bladder and bowel control etc. You may also feel the terrible urge to push but it is important that you should not push until your doctor tells you to do so. If you push before your cervix is fully dilated, the sharp impact of the baby's head may cause swelling, making it more difficult for the baby to pass through the cervical opening.

The Second Stage: The baby's birth
This stage begins when the cervix is fully dilated and lasts until the birth of the baby. Your body will now guide you and tell you when to push. Also listen to your doctor for directions as to when to push. During this stage which may last for 30 minutes or for several hours you will be encouraged to push with each contractions but try not to tire yourself and relax between contractions. You may have a small cut at the entrance to the vagina called episiotomy, to prevent the breaking of the tissues. This will be stitched afterwards. The baby's head will be seen first at the vaginal opening. Here you will have to control your urge to push as the baby's head will be guided out and then your baby's body will rotate in order to allow its one shoulder and then the other shoulder to be delivered. The rest of the body then slides out easily and the umbilical cord is clamped and cut.

The Third Stage: The placenta
After your baby is born, more contractions will push out the placenta. This stage will last for 20 to half an hour. In this stage the placenta, cord and membranes will be delivered.

What you can do when labour begins:

  • First and foremost don't panic. Remember that your baby is on the way and needs all the help you can give. So relax and start doing your breathing exercises.

  • You can start moving, walking in the room if you feel like it when you have mild contractions.

  • You can have sips of water but during delivery when your labour is established you will be asked not to eat anything. This is mainly in case if you need an anaesthetic later on.

  • Your husband or friend or mother-in-law can be with you and can help you doing the breathing exercise with you or can massage your back to relieve the pain if that helps you.


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