It’s so hard to find information on all the stages of labor. My husband is in another country and we’re trying to “time” when he should come here and unfortunately all women are different so you don’t know if the onset of labor means you have 24 hours or 8 hours which makes it incredibly stressful if you and your dear husband is not together. Anyhow, I’m gathering up my notes and documenting the stages of labor here. I’m hoping this helps. It’s not long and is meant to serve as just a quick guideline and notes. However, it’s information that isn’t clear on the websites I’ve visited and so after combining all the information, here it goes:
First Stage: Early Labor
- Process of dilation of cervix to 3cm along with effacement – days to weeks or even just under 6 hours (not helpful I know but it’s still a guideline so bear with me).
- Contractions are 30-45 sec, regular or irregular, 5-20 minutes apart. Could be a pattern or not. Could be painful or not.
- You’ll go to the hospital at the end of this phase.
- Symptoms: backache, cramps, indigestion, diarrhea, warm abdomen, blood tinged discharge that they call bloody show, amniotic fluid
- Call if amniotic fluid is green or murky, bleeding, or feel no fetal movement
- Books say try to relax and sleep or read a book or watch tv- easier said than done right?
Second Stage – Active Labor
- 2-4 hours
- Contractions are 40-60 seconds and 3-4 minutes apart, may or may not be regular
- Dilation to 7 cm
- You should be in the hospital by now. Rarely this phase could drag over a whole week. I feel sorry for a woman who has to endure so much to get to 7 cm dilation. Knock on wood this doesn’t happen to me.
- You’ll feel stronger contractions and won’t be able to talk through them, more backache, leg cramp, fatigue, more bloody mucus, amniotic fluid if it didn’t rupture in first phase.
- You should drink fluids and keep mouth moist and if hungry, eat light snack that’s more liquid like sorbet, jello, popsicle, etc.
- If you can, walk around or change positions frequently to facilitate labor.
- Urinate frequently to relieve pressure.
- Good time to get epidural is around 4-5 cm dilation.
Third Phase: Labor!
- Intense contractions 2-3 minutes apart, 60-90 seconds long.
- You’re dilating to 10cm – full dilation.
- 15 minutes – 1 hour.
- You feel strong pressure in lower back and perineium, rectal pressure to push, sweaty, chilly, shaky, more blood from vagina will come, cervix capillaries rupture, leg cramps and trembling, nausea, drowsiness.
Fourth Phase: Delivery
- 30 min – 1 hour (varies as some may be 10 min to 3 hours!)
- Contractions regular at 60-90 seconds long, 2-5 minutes apart, less painful but more defined in when it comes and goes
- Feel strong urge to push, rectal pressure, strong contractions, more blood, tingling, stretching, burning, stinging at the vagina, and slippery wet feeling when baby comes.
- Good if you can get into a pushing position: semi sitting, squatting is best.
- Push push push!
- Baby comes out!
Then after this is the delivery of the placenta which is pretty standard and was told painless and the ob will instruct you. By that time, you’ll have your baby with you and so distracted, you won’t feel pain from this at all compared to what you’ve just been through. I hope this helps. I’ll use it as a timeline for myself. Will update everyone AFTER my delivery on the “emotions” behind everything. What is written is just an outline but there comes with it so many emotions I’m sure I’ll have a lot to share after!