Labor and child delivery occur at the end of your third trimester of pregnancy, wherein your body will begin to tell you that it is almost time for your baby to be born. This process varies from patient to patient, and each delivery is unique. The process of delivery is impacted by factors such as the position and size of your child and the strength of your contractions.
Childbirth is an exciting process, and learning as much as you can before it is time for your child to be born is extremely important in preparing for when your time comes.
There are three stages of labor: Stage one includes early labor and active labor, stage two lasts through the birth of your child (as the baby travels down and out of the birth canal) and stage three occurs after your child has been born, when the placenta is delivered.
Stage One: There are three phases within stage one of childbirth, which is marked by contractions that cause the muscles of the uterus to tighten and relax. The ‘Early’ phase is identified by brief (one minute or less), irregular contractions, which can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. At this point, your cervix will begin to dilate. In the ‘Active’ phase, contractions become more regular, stronger (varying from moderate to intense pain), and last about a minute each. At this point, it is time to come to the birthing center. The ‘Transition’ phase occurs when the cervix dilates completely to 10cm, and the baby should be in position to be born.
Stage Two: In stage two of labor, the cervix is dilated and a combination of contractions and pushing will coax your baby down and out of the birth canal. Contractions during stage two of delivery typically last from sixty to ninety seconds, and occur every two to five minutes. While there is no set standard for the amount of time stage two of delivery will last, this part of the process can continue anywhere from a half hour to several hours. When your child is born, they are briefly examined and fluids will be removed from their mouth and lungs, and the umbilical cord is clamped and cut.
Stage Three: After the baby is born, you will continue to experience contractions until the placenta is delivered.