What You Need To Know When It Comes To Labour
Now that you’re in the last few weeks of your pregnancy, going into labour is probably playing on your mind a bit. It can be a daunting prospect but the more you know, the less scary it becomes.
Labour can be broken down into 3 stages. This consists of the very first contractions, to the birthing of the placenta.
The First Stage
The first stage of labour encompasses everything from the first smaller contractions to the full dilation of the cervix. This can be a long process if this is your first baby, usually 6-12 hours. If you’ve had a baby before it takes a little less time (some incentive to have another if this process might have put you off!)
In the weeks leading up to your due date, your pregnancy hormones have been doing their thing and your cervix has softened. Your cervix is prepping for labour, and you have been experiencing painless non-labour contractions in order for your cervix to thin out and dilate.
The first stage is further broken down into 2 parts.
The Latent Phase
The longest phase of labour, the latent phase involves contractions starting and getting increasingly intense as your cervix dilates to make way for the baby.
During this phase it’s important to stay calm, it’s not time to go to the hospital, so here are some tips to cope with any pain at home:
Write down when contractions are occuring. This allows you to gauge when it’s time to go to the hospital, and offers you piece of mind.
Distract yourself. You may not be in the mood but this could be a long wait, so pop on your fave Netflix series to take your mind off of things.
Walk about. It’s important to stay mobile so short walks around your home are advised.
Sleep. Rest is so important so try get some sleep in between contractions.
Take a short, warm bath or shower to relax.
The latent phase usually ends in the dilation to 3cm, a hospital will admit you at this stage of dilation.
The Active Phase
This is where your contractions will become more frequent and, unfortunately, more painful. Your cervix is dilating to about 8cm, so it’s at this stage that you may seek pain relief. If your waters haven’t broken yet, they are likely to do so at this stage.
The Second Stage
This part of labour begins with dilating fully, and ends in the moment you’ve waited for - meeting your baby for the first time!
Stage two is known as the transitional stage. This is the process of the baby moving down the birth canal, and delivered through the vagina. There is no real set time for this stage, it can last 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you’ve already had a baby it can be as quick as 10 minutes.
It’s at this point in labour where the whole “don’t push/push” debacle begins.
Once the head appears at the vaginal opening, this is the time to push. Your midwife will cue you when to push. It usually comes with each contraction. It’s completely normal to have a bowel movement or urinate at this stage, trust us, no one will care about this so you shouldn’t either. Once the baby’s head has crowned, the rest of their body moves out quickly with the next contraction. Once born your baby will placed on you for skin to skin contact, and you can get to know your new arrival.
The Third Stage
This takes place from the moment your baby is born to when the placenta and afterbirth have been expelled. This is relatively painless, you may need to give a small push when comes to the placenta leaving your body, but after pushing out a baby this will be a walk in the park!
The placenta is inspected to ensure it all came out, if any is missing it will be removed to prevent bleeding later on. Any tears will be cleaned up, if larger they will be sewn. Whilst your baby is being weighed and measured the midwives will help you to clean up and recover a bit. Baby will also get a little wash.
Now, relax and enjoy motherhood!