3 Main Signs And Stages Of Labor And Birth

Dec 24, 2010 No Comments by

It is unlikely that you won’t recognize the beginning of labour as the signs, when they come, are generally unmistakable. there are three main indications that labour is about to start, or has started, and they can occur in any order. Once one or more of these has occurred  you should let the hospital or midwife know immediately:

1.A Show. The protective plug, which sealed the cervix at the neck of the uterus, comes away and passes down the vagina. It usually appears as a small amount of bloodstained mucus. A show occurs before labour starts or during the first stage.

2.Water Breaking. The membranes of the amniotic sac in which your baby has been floating break, causing either a trickle or a sudden gush of clear fluid from the vagina. if the fluid is yellow, greenish, or brown in colour you will need to go to the hospital straight away because the baby may be in distress. Your waters can break hours before labour starts or when it is well underway.

3.Contractions. The regular tightening of the muscles of the uterus occurs throughout labour. During the first stage, the contractions thin out and dilate the cervix from closed  to 10 cm/4 in open; in the second stage they help to push the baby down the vagina and after the birth they then deliver the placenta (after birth). For most women they feel rather like bad period pains. Contractions may also be accompanied by uncomfortable backache, sickness, and diarrhoea.

Stages Of Labor.

The First Stage: There are three stages of labour and the first is usually the longest, lasting generally from 12 hours upwards for a first baby. Contractions, which may have started off as mild and infrequent will, by the end of the first stage, be very strong and coming close together. Once they are coming regularly every 10 minutes, or are each lasting for around 45 seconds, you should start getting ready to go to the hospital, or call the midwife if you are having your baby at home. when you get to the hospital, or the midwife attending you at home arrives, you will be examined to see how far your cervix has dilated and your blood pressure will be checked.

Although you will be able to carry on fairly normally for quite a lot of the first stage you should have someone with you. It is advisable to eat very little once labour has begun in case you need an emergency anaesthetic for any reason  and to avoid being sick.

Towards the end of the first stage you will go into what is known as the transitional stage which can last for anything up to an hour. During this transitional period your baby moves down the birth canal and  you will feel pressure  on your back passage which  may make you want to start pushing, even though the cervix is not fully dilated. By using the breathing techniques you have been taught you will be able to control this urge.

The Second Stage: Once the cervix is fully dilated and you start pushing the baby out you have  entered the second stage. It can last for as little as half an hour or for as long as two hours or more. Once the baby’s head is visible to the  midwife she will tell you to start pushing. When the head reaches the vaginal opening you will be told to pant in short breaths so that the head can be delivered as slowly as possible.  This allows the skin and muscles of the perineum to stretch so that the head can be born. If it seems likely that you will tear badly and episiotomy,  a small cut in the perineum, the area between the vagina and anus, may be given. Once the head is born your  baby’s body will follow quite quickly. As soon as your baby is delivered it will be lifted onto your stomach for you to see it. The umbilical cord will be clamped and cut and the midwife will check the baby to make sure that it is all right and breathing properly. You may want to put your baby straight to the breast. You’ll certainly wish to admire it with your partner and welcome your child into the world.

The Third Stage: The final stage of labour is the birth of the placenta, which usually takes less than half an hour. You may be given an injection to speed up the delivery.  The midwife will check to see that the placenta is whole and that nothing has been left inside you. If you have had an episiotomy it will be stitched up.


From Conception To Delivery, Labor And Delivery
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