Stages of Labor

Stage 1

The cervix dilates to 10 cm (4 inches) so it is wide enough for the baby's head to pass. This can take many hours.

Stage 2

As the 2nd stage approaches, you may feel the urge to push. If the skin and muscles around the vagina (perineum) are not opened wide enough, the doctor may ask you to wait. the doctor can also make a small cut in the perineum (episiotomy) to make more room and prevent your skin from tearing. When you are able to push, it may take several pushes before your baby's born.

Stage 3

After your baby's born you will still feel contractions until the placenta is delivered. If you had episiotomy the doctor will stitch up the cut. Sometimes the baby must be delivered surgically known as C-section or cesarian. A cut is made in the abdomen and then through the uterus. There are many reasons why a C-section can be done:
  • the baby is too large to pass the pelvis
  • the baby's arms or legs are down instead of the head (breech)
  • there are signs that the baby may be having problems during labor
  • the mother or baby has a condition that may make labor or a vaginal delivery unsafe
Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section, you will have some pain. There are many ways to deal with this pain.
  • practice breathing and relaxation exercises
  • gentle massage can help you relax
  • pain medicines (ask your doctor)
  • epidural (medicine given to you with a shot in your spine) makes you feel numb, you may or may not feel contractions depending on the dosage of the medicine
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