Going through the birth of your child is a wonderful and unique experience. No two deliveries are alike and there is no way to tell how your delivery is going to be. What we can tell you is the stages you will go through during this process and what you can generally expect. Childbirth can be broken into three stages:
First stage: Begins from the onset of true labor and lasts until the cervix is completely dilated to 10 cm.
Second stage: Continues after the cervix is dilated to 10 cm until the delivery of your baby.
Third stage: Delivery of your placenta.
The first stage of labor is the longest and is broken down into three phases:
Early labor phase: Starts from the onset of labor until the cervix is dilated to 3 cm.
Active labor phase: Continues until the cervix is dilated to 7 cm.
Transition phase: Continues until the cervix is fully dilated to 10 cm.
Each phase is full of different emotions and physical challenges. It is one big adventure you are about to take and we would like to give you a guide for it.
Early Labor Phase:
What to do:
During this phase you should just relax. It is not necessary for you to rush to the hospital or birth center. It will be more comfortable for you to spend this time at home, in familiar territory. If early labor is during the day you should do simple routines around the house. Keep yourself occupied but still conserve some of your energy. Drink plenty of water and eat small snacks. Keep track of the time of your contractions.
If early labor begins during the night it is a good idea to try and get some sleep. If you can’t fall asleep, do things that will distract you like cleaning out your closet, packing your bag, or making sack lunches for the next day.
What to expect:
Duration will last approximately 8-12 hours
Your cervix will efface and dilate to 3 cm
Contractions will last about 30-45 seconds, giving you 5-30 minutes of rest in between contractions
Contractions are typically mild, somewhat irregular, but progressively stronger and closer together
Contractions may feel like aching in your lower back, menstrual cramps, and pressure or tightening in the pelvis area
Your water may break; also known as amniotic sac rupture (this can happen any time within the first stage)
When monitoring contractions observe the following:
When your water breaks (amniotic sac ruptures) note the following:
Color of fluid
Odor of fluid
Time rupture occurred
Tips for the support person:
Practice timing contractions
Be a calming influence
Offer comfort, reassurance, and support
Suggest activities that will distract her
Keep up your own strength, you will need it!