HAPPENS IN LABOUR
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
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.
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:
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.
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.