Paying attention to the different stages of labor is a fundamental part of caring for pregnant women. Improving the mother’s health before, during and after delivery is a public health issue. For that reason, international health organizations make it one of their objectives.
An important aspect of pregnancy and childbirth is the access to information. Therefore, women receive information regarding all of the aspects of the gestational period and the stages of labor. At the same time, they learn about the different practices or procedures that benefit their own health and that of their little one.
It’s true that there are many pregnancies and deliveries that occur without any issues. However, there are several factors that help to reduce the risks of possible mishaps. For example, taking dietary supplements, visiting an OB/GYN regularly, and carrying out certain prenatal studies can all contribute to reduced risks.
“Medical supervision is absolutely necessary during pregnacy. It improves the growing baby’s conditions during every moment of his development”
The baby’s birth is approaching
As a baby’s arrival approaches, mothers often experience some level of anxiety, even if it’s not her first child. Her belly has grown, she feels weighed down, and her face is starting to look swollen. This is the time when many questions start to come up.
This is true even when the mother knows that everything is moving along perfectly thanks to all of her prenatal exams. It’s natural and even instinctive for mothers to feel a sense of unease as their due date comes closer.
During a typical pregnancy, there are certain signs and symptoms that indicate that the child’s birth is aproaching and that the stages of chilbirth are beginning. The mother’s belly drops because her baby is getting into position, mild contractions become more intense and frequent, the mucus plug is released, etc.
The most evident sign of impending birth is when the mother’s water breaks. This refers to the moment in which the amniotic sac bursts, and is a definite signal that she should head to the hospital. The baby is about to be born.
When does labor begin?
When analyzing the different stages of childbirth, it’s important to reference two important moments. These are early labor and labor itself.
- During early labor, a change occurs in the uterine wall. The mother may experience slight and irregular contractions that disappear when she shifts to another position. Each woman will present different symptoms during early labor. In fact, the same woman may have different symptoms with one pregnancy than with the next. What’s more, some women don’t even notice they are in early labor. Early labor can last only hours, or it can last up to days.
- Labor begins with the appearance of three conditions. The first has to do with the effacement of the uterine wall, which is the pre-labor process in which the cervix becomes longer and narrower. For labor to begin, the cervix must reduce to half its size. Second, the uterus must begin to dilate and reach 2 to 4 centimeters. Lastly, the mother’s contractions must become rythmic and should appear at least twice every 10 minutes. When these three conditions come together, then labor has begun.
Stages of labor
Labor itself involves the following three stages:
The first stage of dilation begins with the loss of the mucus plug and the beginning of the dilation of the cervix. The duration of the phases differs from one woman to the next. There are women who dilate completely in just a short time, and other women take several hours.
It is during this stage that a woman’s contractions become stronger, more frequent, more painful and more rhythmic. The baby starts to descend through the birth canal.
This stage commences once the mother’s dilation has reached maximum dilation, or 10 centimeters. Now the baby begins to exit the mother’s body. The woman pushes, and this action provides important assistance to the baby. The second stage of childbirth can last between 1 and 2 hours.
3. Delivery of the placenta
Labor doesn’t end as soon as the baby is born. Technically, it ends with the expulsion of the placenta and the ovarian membranes. This stage is extremely important for the mother. If this material remains in the uterus, it can cause infection. Therefore, the medical team will inspect the tissue to make sure none is left within the woman’s body.
Once the placenta and ovarian membranes are out and you’re holding your little one in your arms, labor is over. Having this information beforehand helps to reduce fear and anxiety. Furthermore, it allows expectant mothers – especially first-time mothers – to face childbirth with a calmer, more positive outlook.