The Stages of Labor and Birth Explained

Celeb Baby Laundry - Stages of Labor

Last night, I had my second parenting class. We learned about the different stages of Labor and birth. I hope I am not the only pregnant mommy that didn’t know them at 33 weeks! Here is a quick rundown:

The First Stage

In the first stage of labor, the cervix will dilate from closed to fully open at 10 cm in diameter. This stage is longer for first time mothers. There are three different phases in the first stage:

The Early Phase: This is the longest phase and typically lasts around half of the time most women are in labor. You will start to have contractions and they will become regular in occurrence.  During this phase you will be able to do normal activities  Try to keep busy and distract yourself. Don’t forget to keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and juice.

  • The cervix dilates between 0 and 4 cm.
  • Contractions start farther apart, 10 to 20 minutes apart.
  • Contractions are short only lasting 30 to 60 seconds long.
  • Last 8 to 20 hours.

The Active Phase: In this phase contractions become regular and become more frequent.  You will start the breathing techniques you have learned. This is also when you can go to your hospital or birth center. Especially, if you plan to get an epidural.

  • Dilation 4 to about 8 cm is completed.
  • Contractions closer together 3 to 5 minutes apart.
  • Contractions are lasting about 60 seconds
  • Approx. 4 hours

The Transition Phase: This transition point is the hardest point before the birth of your baby. Thankfully, it is the shortest stage, lasting approx. 10 to 30 min.  The body is making the last effort to open the cervix for birth.

  • Dilation 7 to 10 cm is completed.
  • Contractions are close together 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Contraction are lasting 90 seconds and are on/off/on/off
  • Nausea and vomiting may occur.
  • Uncontrollable trembling of the legs.
  • Hot or cold flushes.
  • Max time is 30 min.

The Second Stage

This stage begins when the cervix is fully dilated, and ends when the baby is finally born.  Your body will feel the urge to push the baby out. This is when ‘crowning’ takes place. If you are having a natural birth this is said to be the most challenging part of labor. Your doctor will tell you when to push to help facilitate birth.  This stage can last up to two hours.

The Third Stage

This stage usually takes place between five minutes to 1 hour after birth. You will deliver the placenta and membranes that helped nourish your baby.