The birth of your child is a special and unique experience. Every woman’s experience of labor is different! No one can predict what your labor will be like. But, it’s always best to know what exactly happens during childbirth. This will help you stay calm, focused and prepare you for what’s coming. Read more to learn about the 3 stages of childbirth and what happens during those stages.
Childbirth occurs in three consecutive stages, right from the onset of the water break till the delivery of placenta.
1. The First Stage – Dilation of Cervix
Cervix which is the connecting link between the uterus and the vagina dilates, giving signs to you that you are fast progressing into labor. This happens in three phases:
1. Phase One:
Cervix will first dilate from 0-4 centimeters. The duration of this stage can last from 6-10 hours, and maybe even shorter sometimes. The experiences you face during this stage may be subtle or dramatic- there’s no way to tell. Usually mild contractions along with the rupture of membranes are seen.
2. Phase Two:
The cervix now dilates further from 4-7 centimeters. This is the phase where the prep work for childbirth should usually begin. The period of dilation lasts somewhere between 3-6 hours on an average for first time moms, and you may feel intense and gradual contractions, each three to five minutes apart. You may also find pinkish or brownish discharge.
3. Phase Three:
The last stage is where the cervix dilates to around 10 centimeters, and this stage lasts from between 20 minutes to 2 hours. The contractions you will feel here will be intense, and you may experience nausea, shakiness and fatigue, accompanied by a strong urge to push, along with a tingling or burning sensation in the vaginal area.
2. The Second Stage – Pushing and Birth
This stage of childbirth starts after the cervix is fully dilated, and lasts around 2 hours for first time moms. You may experience an overwhelming urge to push, and as you start pushing, you may become fatigued and breathless. Intense pain will be experienced around the perineal and vaginal area as your baby’s head starts to protrude at the widest part of the vaginal opening.
If you’re experiencing difficulty at this point, your doctor may suggest an episiotomy (a small incision to be made in the area between the vagina and the rectum to widen the opening and allow the baby to pass out easily). Once your baby’s head is out, you will need to push more gently and slowly to allow the rest of the body to glide out easily.
3. The Third Stage – Delivery of the Placenta
Now that your baby is out into the world, the third and the last stage of the delivery of the placenta follow. This period is sometimes called the afterbirth, and usually takes place a few minutes after the baby is born. Your doctor may ask you to push out the placenta.
Your doctor may also ask you to start feeding the baby immediately after birth to stimulate uterine contractions and may gently massage your abdomen to allow the placenta to separate and expel out.