After passing through all the heat and glamour in the developmental stages of pregnancy, the final experience are yet to come. Read below what you might likely undergo to get adapted to ever changing world of after delivery :
After 9 long months of waiting, youʼve nearly reached the end of your pregnancy. Youʼve taken good care of yourself, eaten well, and taken prenatal vitamins every day of your pregnancy. At this point another one of the benefits of folic acid—reducing preterm births—is greatly appreciated.1 Labor and delivery make up the last bit of hard work before you get to hold your newborn baby in your arms.
You may have read a number of pregnancy books or taken prenatal classes in preparation for this phase of your pregnancy. While itʼs good to be prepared, remember that every womanʼs labor is different.
In general, a normal vaginal birth includes the stages below:
First stage: Dilation and effacement2,3—
During the first stage of labor, your cervix begins to dilate, or open. Dilation may begin days or weeks before you actually start to notice contractions. Your cervix will also efface, or thin. Over a series of hours (or days, for some), it will dilate from 0 to nearly 10 cm, and efface from 0% to 100%. Within the first stage of labor, there are 3 phases:
- Early labor—Your cervix will dilate to approximately 3 cm during this phase. The first contractions are often mild and very similar to Braxton-Hicks contractions; however, true labor contractions normally have a more regular pattern, last longer, and grow stronger as time passes. While all of the others were just for practice, these contractions dilate your cervix to prepare for childbirth
- Active labor—As your cervix continues to dilate from 4 to 7 cm, youʼll feel stronger contractions, and things may start to progress much faster. By now, each contraction may last 45 seconds to a minute or longer, and they may be just a few minutes apart. Talk with your doctor or health care provider about when you should decide to go to the hospital or birthing center. He or she may want you to arrive when your contractions are a certain number of minutes apart or last for a certain number of seconds. Your medical team will likely begin monitoring your contractions and your babyʼs heart rate. If youʼve had a baby before, your active labor may be fairly quick. However, every labor is different, and this phase may last for a number of hours
- Transition—During transition from your first stage of labor to the second stage, your cervix will dilate from 7 cm up to 10 cm. By this time, your contractions will be painful and very close together. In fact, they may seem like they never completely disappear. You will feel the urge to push at this point, but do so only with direction from your doctor; pushing before youʼre fully dilated can cause your cervix to swell and actually make delivery harder
Second stage2,3—Your second stage of labor begins when youʼre fully dilated and actually includes delivery. With direction from your medical team, you can push during contractions to help move your baby down through the birth canal, and rest in between them. This stage can take from a few minutes to a few hours and ends with the delivery of your baby!
Third stage1,2—Immediately after delivery, you may get to hold your newborn, but your work isnʼt over yet. During the third stage of labor, you will deliver the placenta, and your doctor will make sure that your bleeding is controlled.
Remember, every delivery is different. These are general guidelines for how labor and delivery progress, but donʼt be surprised if yours does not go exactly the way you had in mind. Some women may need to have a planned or emergency caesarian section or require intervention to help labor progress. Although these cases may be rare, itʼs wise to talk to you doctor about what to expect if they should occur.