- Women's Health
Stages of Labor and Delivery - Pregnancy
Intro to Stages in Labor and Delivery
Labor and delivery are divided into three stages. During each stage, many changes are occurring within your body. The first stage of labor occurring from the time true labor begins until the cervix is completely dilated and the baby can pass out of the uterus through the cervix. The second stage of labor occurring from complete cervical dilation until the delivery of your baby. And finally the third stage of labor following delivery of the baby until the placenta detaches from the uterine wall and is expelled through the vagina. Labor and delivery times vary by woman and by pregnancy, as with everything else in pregnancy no two are exactly alike.
The blending of the following factors can affect your progress in labor and delivery:
- Position of the baby's head.
- Size of baby.
- Presentation of baby.
- Size and shape of mother's pelvis.
- Mother's physical and emotional state.
- The effectiveness of the contractions in dilating the cervix
- Medications or anesthesia administered.
First stage of labor
The first stage of labor is usually the longest because there are many phases within the first satge. It begins with the onset of true labor and ends when the cervix is completely dilated or 10cms. The average duration for this stage for women having their first child is 12-16 hours, and for women having their second or third baby this stage is around 6-10 hours. There are three phases within the first stage of labor.
Early phase: The early phase lasts from the start of labor until the cervix dilates to 3 centimeters. The duration of this phase averages 8 hours and is usually the longest. Women are very social in this phase of labor and feeling very eager and excited. It is not necessary to go to the hospital. The contractions are mild, somewhat irregular, but progressively stronger and closer together.
Active phase: The active phase of labor dialtes your cervix to 7 centimeters and averages around 4-5 hours. It is about time to go to the hospital. The contractions grow stronger and are progressively longer. Women are no longer social.
Transition phase: Transition phase: The transition phase is the hardest phase within the first stage of labor, but thank goodness it is the shortest. It can be as short as 30 minutes and as long as 2 hours. This phase will dilate the cervix up to full dilation or 10 centimeters. These contractions are very intense and they may almost seem as if they are one right after another. When you feel an urge to push, tell your health care provider.
Second stage of labor: The second of labor starts when the cervix is fully dilated and is completed with the delivery of the baby. Now it is time to push. This stage is shorter than the first stage, lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Your nurse will tell you when it is time to push your baby.
Third stage of labor: The third stage of labor begins after the baby is born and ends with the delivery of the placenta. It is the shortest stage and lasts anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. After a few labor like contractions and massage of your uterus, the placenta is expelled.
Below is a list to help you in determining when to go to the delivery room or hospital:
- Growing more intense.
- Following the regular pattern.
- Lasting longer.
- Becoming closer together.
- Discomfort in back and lower abdomen.
- Discomfort does not stop with walking.
When your water breaks (amniotic sac ruptures) note the following:
- Amount of fluid.
- Color of fluid.
- Odor of fluid.
- Time rupture occured.