|Stages of Labor
Once you start contracting regularly and your cervix beings to dilate you are in early labor. Early labor can last from hours to days. You enter active labor when your contractions are stronger and harder and work to dilate your cervix from about 4 to 10 centimeters.
For women who are having their first baby, active labor can last 4 to 10 hours. Transition is the last part of active labor when your cervix goes from 8 to 10 centimeters. This is the most intense part of labor and can last from a few minutes to a few hours. The second stage of labor is the pushing where you deliver the baby. This stage of labor can last from minutes to hours. The third stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta. This occurs minutes after the delivery of the baby and lasts about 5 to 10 minutes.
Premature labor is when labor occurs before 37 weeks of gestation.
The proper way to time a contraction is from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning to the next. This answers the question “How far apart are they?” The duration of a contraction is the time elapsed between the beginning and end of one contraction.
Many expecting mothers draft a birth plan to outline their wishes and preferences about their labor and delivery experience.
Packing Your Bag
Around week 37, many moms-to-be pack their hospital bag. Your hospital bag can include items to help you work though labor, like a bottle for water, tennis balls for back massaging and a nightgown of your choice. Toiletries, pillows, music, a camera and batteries, lip balm and light snacks are all hospital bag necessities.
Some women must have their labor induced for medical reasons or due to pregnancy compilations. Preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and hypertension are common medical reasons for induction. Induction is also used for post term babies.
Many women plan on having a natural childbirth experience free from medications and medical interventions. Many expecting mothers use the Bradley Method to prepare for natural childbirth.
About 1 in 4 babies are born by cesarean section. A cesarean section is when surgery is used to take the baby out of the uterus through the mother’s abdomen. Cesareans are used to deliver a baby in distress, if the baby is too big to fit through the birth canal or if the mother has health issues or pregnancy complications that would prevent a vaginal delivery.
Sometimes a delivering mother needs assistance in the final stages of childbirth. An assisted delivery is when forceps or suctions are usedto help the baby though the birth canal.
Many women wish to have a VBAC or vaginal birth after cesarean section. A growing number of obstetrical providers now allow women to attempt a VBAC delivery.
There are many types of pain relief a woman can opt for during labor and delivery. Some of the options include an epidural block , a spinal block, analgesics and narcotics, local anesthetics, pudendal blocks and tranquilizers.
An episiotomy is an incision made into the perineum, the skin between the anus and vagina, to increase the space to allow for more room for the delivery of the baby. Stitches are often required to repair the incision after delivery.