Welcome to one of life’s most incredible journeys—childbirth. Every woman’s experience of labor is unique, often full of surprises and, without doubt, a testament to her strength. While the course of labor is unpredictable, being informed about what to expect can empower you and ease some of the anxiety associated with the unknown. This guide from your Mariette OBGYN will walk you through the three stages of labor, helping you to understand the processes your body will undergo during this extraordinary time.

Stage 1: Early Labor and Active Labor

Early Labor

The journey begins with the first stage of labor, which includes early and active labor phases. During early labor, your cervix begins to dilate and efface. This is when you might start to feel mild, irregular contractions which will gradually become more regular. It’s common to notice a clear, pink, or slightly bloody discharge, known as the mucus plug, during this phase.

Duration and Management:

For first-time moms, early labor can last from several hours to days, typically shorter for subsequent deliveries. During this time, if your pregnancy has been uncomplicated, you may stay at home. Engage in relaxing activities such as walking, taking a bath, listening to soothing music, or practicing breathing techniques. If your water breaks or you notice significant bleeding, contact your health care provider immediately.

Active Labor

As you transition into active labor, your cervix will dilate from 6 centimeters to 10 centimeters. Contractions intensify and occur closer together. You may experience nausea, cramping, and increased back pressure. If you haven’t yet, this is the time to go to your birthing center or hospital.

Coping Strategies:

Active labor demands more of your physical and emotional stamina. Pain management becomes crucial, and you should communicate your needs to your health care team. To manage discomfort, continue using breathing techniques, change positions, or use a birthing ball. A warm shower or gentle massage between contractions can also provide relief.

Stage 2: The Birth of Your Baby

This stage begins when you are fully dilated and ends with the birth of your baby. You will feel a strong urge to push. Your health care provider will guide you on when and how to push, or you may follow your body’s natural urges.

Delivery Positions and Techniques:

Various positions can aid in this process, including squatting, sitting, or kneeling. To prevent tearing, you might be advised to slow down or stop pushing at some points. This stage can last a few minutes to several hours, especially for first-time mothers or those who have had an epidural.

Stage 3: Delivery of the Placenta

After the exhilaration of meeting your newborn, you will enter the final stage of labor—the delivery of the placenta. This stage typically takes about 30 minutes but can last up to an hour. Mild contractions will help move the placenta out, and you may need to push gently once more.

Aftercare:

Following the delivery, your focus will likely shift entirely to your new baby. However, your provider at your Mariette OBGYN will be busy ensuring that the placenta is delivered completely and checking for any necessary repairs or signs of excessive bleeding. This is a good time to start breastfeeding, which can also help your uterus contract and reduce bleeding.

 

Labor and childbirth are profound experiences that require strength, patience, and resilience. Understanding what to expect during each stage can help you prepare mentally and physically for the big day. Remember, your health care team at Unified Premier Women’s Care is there to support you through this natural yet intense process. Trust in your body, your baby, and your medical team as you embark on this remarkable journey.

For further reading head to the March of Dimes website: https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/birth/stages-labor

And as always, give us a call if you have any questions or concerns: https://unifiedpremierwomenscare.com/contact/