Stages of Labour Pain

By: Dr Scott Pendergraft


Now that you are into the final trimester, you would surely be reading all the stuff related to labour pain, especially if it is the first time. A lot of women in your life have told you their stories and they seem to be more or less revolving around one word- PAIN. Of course, labour is associated with pain, but you need to know that it has primarily three different stages. You need to understand at least the basics so that you can push out the baby with better knowledge and are aware when it is the time.
Stage 1: Early Labour
In the first stage of labour, also called early labour, the cervix begins to open. Also, it starts widening. From being closed, the cervix will start dilating for around 3-4 cm. During this stage, the uterus is actually contracting gently, which is why one may not notice this. A woman will start observing cramping, akin to that observed in menstruation. You will remain dilated for a lot more centimetres, before you actually realize that itís labour. You should ideally wait for stronger labour and better remain at home. Eating and drinking right is very important here. During the stage of pre-labour or early labour, the cervix may go through huge changes and this takes time. For you, it is vital to remain patient.
In this stage, the contractions appear after every 5 minutes for duration of 30-40 seconds each. By keeping calm, you can properly time your contractions. Labour is more like a marathon than sprint. So, you need to run long. Be prepared, but donít be scared.
Stage 2: Active Labour
During this labour phase, it is most likely that your contractions will become longer. The cervix, in this stage, opens from 3 cm of early labour stage to 10 cm now. Here the contractions are powerful and come after a gap of 3-4 minutes for duration of 60 seconds each. The contractions will sometimes reach the higher altitude of intensity and then fade away. Keep yourself relaxed during this stage and monitor your breathing.
You may now go to the hospital where the baby has to be delivered. Midwifery services can be had for help and for relaxing you during this stage.
Stage 3: Transitional Labour
This is where your cervix is completely dilated and it gives you a strong urge to push out the baby. The contractions in this stage are very strong and enduring. They may even appear in double waves. This is what many women refer to as ďthe water broke.Ē It is this stage where a woman groans, shouts and feels shaky as well as impatient with anyone who is around. The support at the hospital will help you in pushing the baby out. Not unless you have pushed him/her out, will you feel relaxed.
After the baby has been delivered, the uterus starts contracting, pushing out the placenta from vagina. Once everything starts, it only stops once you have a baby in your arms and everything happens in a few minutes. So there is not much you should worry about. Just eat and drink well, relax and pray!

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Dr. James S. Pendergraft opened the Orlando Women's Center in March 1996 to provide a full range of health care for women. www.womenscenter.com/

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