What to Expect During Labor and Birth
By Karen Wallace

The Stages of Labour

First Stage
Involves commencement of regular painful contractions to dilate the cervix. It is considered complete when the cervix is ‘fully’ dilated which is generally regarded to be 10 centimetres. The latent phase of labour is when the contractions are irregular in frequency, strength and duration. However, this does not mean that you are not going to find these contractions painless. They will be uncomfortable, but if you can rest between them it is important to do so. Pacing and being super active at this stage will make you exhausted. A warm bath or shower, hot pack and simple analgesia may help during this stage.

The active phase of labour will be more challenging. You will need to think about your approach to it well in advance and maybe even make a ‘birth plan’ to keep you on track. Make sure you inform your midwife of what measures you would like to use to help you cope with your labour. Transition is when the labouring is nearing second stage. Often you can see a change in the labouring woman and is estimated to be at 8-9 cm dilated. An accompanying ‘bloody show’ is often noted.

Second Stage
Begins with the cervix being confirmed at fully dilated and ends with the birth of your baby. This is the stage when both voluntary and involuntary pushing will occur. It is mostly completed in 2 hours. The baby’s position and your state of health/fatigue will impact of this stage.

Third Stage
This is the stage when the placenta and membranes separate from the uterine wall and are expelled. This stage can be dealt with both actively or passively. It is often advised to approach it actively to reduce the risk of the mother bleeding profusely. The mother is given a tocolytic agent such as Syntocinon to hasten the expulsion of the placenta allowing the uterus to contract tightly thus minimising blood loss. If the passive approach is taken the placenta can take 1 hour to be expelled.

There are many choices for pain relief in labour. The non-pharmacological methods of massage, water therapy, acupuncture, reiki, TENS and imagery are all appropriate for use in labour. It is important to try these prior to labour and get advice form a qualified practitioner to enhance there success.

Other forms of pain relief commonly used are Nitrous Oxide (commonly called happy / laughing gas) Pethidine or an Epidural. These all have benefits and risks and need to be discussed with your midwife prior to use.

Other issues related to Labour
It is important to be prepared both mentally and physically for your labour. It is undoubtedly a stressful time but can also be an enjoyable time of love and bonding if approached sensibly.

Remember to inform your carer if your have any pre-existing medical conditions. Of special note and consequence is a outbreak of lesions if you are a Genital Herpes sufferer, or a current or previous diagnosis of Group B Strep. These are easily managed.

It is really important to keep up your fluids whilst in labour and sugar levels with light snacks. Labour can be quite long and you will cope better with the tiredness if your body is kept nourished. Avoid heavy foods and anything greasy/milky. Also make sure your support person doesn’t forget to eat and drink!

Lastly, it is an amazing experience for all involved. Enjoy the celebration of a new and important life – your baby’s.

copyright www.onlinefem.com 2003

Karen Wallace is a Registered Nurse, Midwife, Bachelor of Nursing, Grad Dip Midwifery


Home |Shopping | Advertising | Link To Us | Sponsor a Contest |
| Media | Parent Business Directory | Direct sales Directory |

Privacy Statement. Visit our Liability Disclaimer page. BPO is for entertainment and educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a professional. Check with your providers before following advice or content herein. ©1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004. BPO is property of the Busy Family Network (BFN), All Rights Reserved. No part of the website, newsletters or other materials can be reproduced in any form without written consent. Parts of the site and materials include, but are not limited to, graphics, copy/content, HTML, Meta tags, template and web layouts or other features. Each web page and its source code is valued at $5000 US. By using any part of any page on BPO without permission, you are agreeing to pay the owner and/or the artist/writer $5,000.

Copyright 1999-2009