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Understanding the stages of labour

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Labour is different for each expecting mother and for each pregnancy. Although it is best to consult your doctor before taking any decision, knowledge about the stages help you decide the next step better.

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Generally there are three main stages as discussed here.

Stage 1: The longest stage

This stage begins with the first uterine contractions and ends with complete dilation of the cervix. You may plan to go to the hospital now. At first, the contractions are like strong menstrual cramps, lasting from 30 to 40 seconds and occurring every 5 to 15 minutes. They increase in rhythm, strength and duration until eventually they last as long as 60 seconds and come every 2 to 3 minutes.

During this stage your uterus and cervix, which together look like an upside-down pear, are changing shape into a form that is shorter and dilated so that your baby’s head can get through. At the end of this stage, the cervix will be dilated to about 10 centimetres (nearly 4 inches). During the first 2 stages of labour, your baby’s progress may be monitored.

Stage 2: Pushing and delivery

It is now time to push with the contractions. Using the techniques that you might have learnt in childbirth classes, you breathe and push down. Plus you’ll get lots of coaching from your family members and doctors. While labour pains sometimes can be significant, there are several ways you can help ease the pain.

Near the end, the baby’s head can be seen during and after a contraction. That’s called crowning. At this point the doctor may do an episiotomy—a shallow cut into the lower vagina to keep your tissue from tearing. Next (the part you’ve been anticipating forever!) the baby is born, usually headfirst and face down.

After your baby is born

Here is a rough sequence of things that will happen immediately after your baby is born:

The doctor may place your baby face down on your abdomen for skin-to-skin contact.

Your newborn may take a first breath at that moment, or perhaps the doctor will have you gently massage the baby’s back.

The doctor may perform a little suctioning to make sure the baby breathes freely.

The umbilical cord will be cut.

The baby’s eyes will be treated to prevent gonorrhoeal infection.

The doctor will evaluate the baby’s condition and may inject the baby with Vitamin K to aid in blood clotting.

Stage 3: Afterbirth

There’s one more job to do after your baby is born: deliver the afterbirth. Your contractions may have stopped but will restart and will last between 5 and 20 minutes until the placenta is expelled.

While you are riding the waves of joy after her birth, you should also have a knowledge about the stages to decide what is best for both you and your baby. Follow the right steps and move into a life of health and happiness.

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