The Three Stages of Labor
When you first begin to think that you are going into labor, it is time to plan ahead. Notify your physician and make sure that your partner is available to transport you to the hospital when the contractions start occurring more frequently.
As contractions start to come closer together, many women want to rush to the hospital. Many doctors ask that women do not leave for the hospital until their contractions are specific number of minutes apart. You should discuss with your doctor when you should go to the hospital.
Many doctors advise that women walk around. If you cannot walk around, you should sit upright. However, this is not the time to go to bed as it can slow down labor. Gravity will help to speed things along.
Once you arrive at the hospital, you will be admitted and prepared for labor. Preparation for labor will include monitoring you and the baby. Many times your water will have already broken. If not, depending upon how dilated you are, a doctor may break your water. You may or not have your perineum shaved. You may or may not have an enema. All of this should have been decided upon in your birth plan.
As you near the end of the first stage of labor, you will go into transition. This is when contractions come fast and they can be very intense. The cervix is dilating from eight to ten centimeters. It is normal to feel shaky, cold, hot, irritable, and even nauseous.
Many women feel the sensation to push at this time. However, pushing cannot start until the cervix is dilated to ten centimeters. Pushing too soon can rip the cervix, or even cause it to swell.
Stage two occurs when the cervix is fully dilated. Women are encouraged to not push until they can no longer hold off the urge.
Pushing can be hard work, and it can last minutes or hours. Women should be taught to hold their breath and bear down as they push. The pushes usually last five to eight seconds.
When the baby’s head starts to crown you may be told to quit pushing. This is so the doctor can perform an episiotomy if he or she thinks you are going to tear your perineal tissue.
Once the baby’s head is out, you will need to push the shoulders free. The rest of the baby will then slide free. There may be a flow of water with the baby’s delivery.
The umbilical cord will then be cut. The baby may or may not be crying. If the baby is not yet breathing, attendants will aid the newborn.
The uterus continues to contract after the baby’s delivery. This is so the placenta can be expelled. You can aid in this process by bearing down and pushing it out. The placenta will be examined to ensure that it is all expelled. Any suturing that needs to be done will take place soon thereafter.
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