Motherhood is a blessing! For all the expectant parents, the birth of a child makes the most beautiful moment of their lives. A new life is added to their family, making it complete. However, to bring this new life into the world, the would-be mother combats a lot of hurdles. While the nine months are comparatively quite easy, it is after the start of labor pains that things get unbearable. There are basically three stages of labor. In the first stage, the cervix dilates. The second stage comprises of the birth of the baby, while the third stage involves emerging out of the placenta. In the following lines, we have given a comprehensive detail about all the three phases of labor.
Stages Of Labor
The First Stage of Labor
The first stage of labor is the longest one and can lasts up to almost 20 hours. It can be divided into three phases - early or latent phase, active phase and transition phase. After this stage, the cervix gets dilated to about 10 cm. For first time moms-to-be, the first stage lasts for about 12 to 16 hours. However, for women giving birth for their second or third, it lasts for 6 to 7 hours.
- Early or Latent Phase - In this phase, the cervix expands to about 4 cm in a period of about 8 hours. The contractions have an irregular nature and the pain felt by the would-be mothers is similar to what women feel during the menstrual phase i.e. aching, fullness, cramping and backache. In this phase, walking is more convenient than sitting at a place. A sense of excitement, eagerness and energy shadows the woman.
- Active Phase - The next phase is characterized by contractions that become longer, stronger and closer together over time. They are generally five minutes apart, lasting around 60 seconds. This phase lasts for about an hour. The most common symptom of this phase is a tightening feeling in the pubic area and increasing pressure in the back.
- Transition Phase - The most difficult as well as the shortest of all the phases in the first stage, it lasts for about 30 minutes. The cervix dilates to about 7-10 cm. The pain experienced is excruciating and, as the cervix is expanding, the baby moves down to the birth canal.
The Second Stage of Labor
The baby is born in this stage. It lasts for about one to two hours and causes a burning sensation. There would be a strong urge to push, but it is important not to push until the doctor or physician instructs so. This stage can also be divided into three phases - resting phase, descent phase and crowning phase.
- Resting Phase - It is experienced by some of the pregnant women only, after their cervix has dilated to about 10 cm. During this phase, for about 10-20 minutes, there are a few noticeable contractions, without an urge to bear down.
- Descent Phase - It the phase when the contractions are 3-5 minutes apart and last for about 60 seconds. During this time, the baby’s head tries to come out, but after each attempt, it retreats back.
- Crowning Phase - It is in this phase that the baby’s head comes out of the opening of the vagina and does not retreat backwards. It is one of the most difficult times for the mother-to-be because she faces a sense of stretching, along with burning.
The Third Stage Of Labor
One of the shortest stage, it is after the baby is born. The third stage lasts for about 10 to 20 minutes. There is some cramping and slight contraction to deliver the placenta. The mother is under observation to make sure that the uterus is contracting and bleeding is not excessive. This is the time when the mother rests after her hard work and gets a chance to meet her baby.