Labor and delivery is one of those events that has no definitive expectation and, no one knows exactly what triggers your labor, giving birth to your new baby. The labor process has three stages … and every expectant mom will go through them. Your labor might be between 12-24 hours, on average.
And because every expectant mom is different, the process might be faster in some women and yet slower for other women. In general, be prepared for the process so that you are aware of what to expect.
1(a). Latent phase
Labor and delivery, latent phase or stage one is really long and can take about 20 hours for first-time moms. My labor was no different, beginning with uterine contractions which were initially mild occurring every 15 or 20 minutes.
And didn’t go away, even after a warm bath and fluid intake, very scared, i went to hospital for check-up. At the hospital, I was found to be slowly dilating and effacing (thinning-out).
This stage, I was told would end after I was 4 centimeters (1 to 1 1/2 inches dilated. And right abut now, my contractions were anywhere from about 30 to 70 seconds apart. My pain threshold was still high, experiencing mild pain that felt like more like a backache or perhaps a bad menstrual cramp. So, I was sent home with instructions and to sleep the process away. Sleep indeed, that was never going to happen!
As contractions became more regular, frequent and intense, increasing every 5 to 7 minutes. I kept looking out for signs of the “bloody show”(pink or brown-tinged mucus-normal discharge) that I had read about as the cervix opened. But, I had none. Later, I found out, this discharge may start days before or at even at the start of labor.
I also, looked out for the rupture of amniotic membranes, appearing like a gush of fluid from the vagina. I had read that, it should occur spontaneously, but I didn’t have any of these signs of labor, either. So, since I wasn’t sleeping anyway, I decided to check back at the hospital, yet again.
Once in the hospital, I was found to be in the active phase of stage one, labor and delivery. As my contractions became stronger and more painful. They were now three minutes apart and lasting about 45 to 60 seconds. Soon, my cervix was dilating much more rapidly … say 1 centimeter per hour and steadily progressing from 8 to 10 centimeters.
During this active phase of labor and delivery, some expectant moms tend to have nausea and increased back pain, as labor progresses and contractions become every 2-3 minutes and last a minute. Luckily for me, I had no nausea but my threshold to pain was going done really fast.
It’s at this time, that my vital signs (temperature, blood pressure and pulse) started being monitored. And an external monitor to check baby’s heart rate and my contractions was placed on my abdomen. I was then offered a choice of pain management options, for labor pain, and I chose the epidural.
2. Stage two
Stage two of Labor and delivery is the pushing stage. And usually, you may start pushing when you are 10 centimeters dilated. I must have been in a hurry to see my baby, because I tried pushing at 8 centimeters, but no progress was made. So, I was given another 2 hours to get to full dilatation.
Pushing before you are fully dilated, is not usually recommended. Because, your cervix tends to swell up and narrow the pathway for baby. Making it difficult for giving birth. So avoid this loophole no matter how hard it might be!
After the epidural, waiting was no problem and I used that time to get some restful sleep. I felt no labor pains. At this point, my contractions were every 2-3 minutes and lasted longer than a minute.
And, As baby’s head descended down towards the vagina, I felt more and more pressure mount onto my rectum, giving me the urge to PUSH! If you are wondering what this urge to push feels like, it simply feels like the need to have a bowel movement.
It’s so hard to resist this urge, but never push until you are told to do so. In other words, wait until you are fully dilated. I had to fight with all my strength to resist the urge to push, until it was time.
Once I was fully dilated, it was time to push baby out!
Over the course of a contraction, I had 3 effort-pushes. Then,
I was asked to take a really big deep breath and push like I was constipated. The nurse would then, count 1,2,3…up to 10, and that was an effort! I chose not to get an episiotomy to ease delivery, (which is a small incision between the vagina and the rectum), because these days this practice is not performed as often as it used to be. Giving birth has changed since your mother was in this position. And needless to say, I did just fine. Soon baby’s head was crowning, and that marked the end of the active phase.
3. Stage three
Labor and delivery ‘s shortest stage of labor is stage three.
And lasts about 30-40 minutes or less. At this point, contractions are much weaker and subsided as the placenta commonly refereed to as the afterbirth is delivered. All part of normal labor and delivery for most women.
If you have had any tears or an episiotomy, this is about the time you will be stitched. During this stage, my attention was all directed to my LITTLE ONE, whom I was very eager to meet, that I paid almost no attention to what was going on. Baby’s health and my state were my ultimate concern! One of the best days of my life ever, when I heard baby’s first cry!
Signs of labor, link here
Stages of labor, here
See Braxton-hicks contractions with this link…
Giving birth information here…
What to do during a home birth.
Pain relief options during labor.