Stages of Labor
Labor is the process which begins on the first day the uterus begins to contract until the delivery of the baby. Labor normally has three distinct stages, although in certain circumstances there may be a fourth stage.
Stage one of labor is that of ‘Early’ or ‘Latent’ labor. During this phase labor usually lasts around 8 hours. During this time contractions become gradually stronger and more frequent, starting around 30 minutes apart. During this time the cervix begins to open and effacement begins to take place. The mother may become emotional and anxious during this time.
Stage two of labor is the ‘Active’ labor phase. Here contractions become more frequent and stronger lasting between 40 – 60 seconds. The strength of the contractions will open the cervix and bring your baby closer to the birth canal. Most individuals experience the most pain during this stage. It is during this stage that the mother may require assistance either with medication, an epidural or additional support.
Stage three is the ‘Transitional’ stage. Here the contractions become really strong, very close together and last approximately 60 – 90 seconds. The baby is delivered during this time and the placenta is passed.
Stage Four (optional)
The optional fourth stage is when the mother no longer has contractions or pain, but instead the uterus contracts to help expel the afterbirth. This stage is considered as optional in most cases.
It is important to remember that labor and delivery may vary greatly from individual to individual, and the stages mentioned above are only a general guide. Consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner or midwife for more information and support.