If you are a first time pregnant woman, you are probably wondering what it is like to go through the labour process. However, it is important to note that the experience is different for every person.

Some people experience complications while others may not have enough time to reach the hospital before their baby is born. Regardless of whether your labour lasts for a day or a few hours, the process always has three stages. In this article, we look at the three stages distinctively analysing what to expect in each one of them.

The First Stage

This is perhaps the longest stage of delivery because it can last for several days or sometimes weeks. What is more is that you may not even realize that you are at this stage until it is over or at the very end. Some of the symptoms of this stage include:

  • Cramps
  • Spotting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Backache

The first stage of labour also three major divisions that include:

The Latent Phase

This stage can last up to a week with the woman experiencing her first contractions. When you start to feel these, conduct activities that will keep you distracted such as walking and relaxing with friends and family. It is also at this stage that the cervix dilates by about 3-4 cm.

The Active Phase

This stage is more uncomfortable with the contractions getting stronger in a sequence of 4-5 minutes apart. If your water has not broken already, this is where it does thereby making it hard for you to move. At this time, your cervix will be about 7 cm. Therefore, you should alert your doctor if you have not already.

The Transition Phase

This marks the first stage of real labour, one that many women dread. Here, the contractions are more painful and last for so long that you may not notice the breaks in between. The urge to use the bathroom also kicks in as the head of the baby starts to descend. At this stage, your cervix would have fully dilated to about 10 cm. Depending on whether you have had an epidural; the doctor might reduce your medicine dosage to allow you to deal with the birthing labour stage.

Stages of Childbirth
Stages of Childbirth

The Second Labour Stage

This stage involves the actual pushing. As aforementioned, some women go through this stage in the shortest time possible while others spend hours. If you have an epidural, go through this stage slowly as you learn the basics of pushing.

If at this stage your water has not broken, your care provider will use an amnio hook to break the bag. Usually, this is a painless procedure, but you need to take the instructions of the midwife or the doctor carefully.

While pushing is important in speeding the process of giving birth, sometimes your care provider might ask you to slow down to get the baby out without causing damages. When the baby is out, the midwife will cut the umbilical cord paving the way for the third stage.

The Third Stage of Labour

Even though you might be through with the hard work, there is still some more to do given that the uterus begins to shrink immediately after birth and the placenta detaches from the uterus wall. At this stage, you are required to deliver the placenta well because if left inside your body, it can cause immediate infections and sometimes death.

In some cases, the placenta comes out easily on its while in other instances; the midwife will have to massage your stomach to push it out. Even after the birth of your child, you might still experience some mild contractions indicating that your uterus is contracting to its normal size. Fortunately, there is a medication to cure this discomfort.

Your Expectations After Delivery

The same way you wonder what to expect before giving birth, you should wonder what to expect after birth. Normally, the doctor will check your vitals and ensure that your uterus is contracting well. This process may also involve massaging of your stomach, which can be uncomfortable as well. Your baby will also undergo an APGAR test and a shot of vitamin K.

While giving birth especially for the first time can be very scary, the information above helps you to know what to expect and face the procedure unfazed. However, it is important to note that two people’s experiences of labour are not the same. Therefore, the above information only gives you the general guidelines. You can learn more from the UNT Nurse-Midwives group.