Monday, October 15, 2012

Stages of labor in detail - first stage of labor cervix dilates

What happens in labor? There are three stages to labor.
In the first stage the cervix gradually opens up (dilates). In the second stage the baby is pushed down the vagina and is born. In the third stage the placenta comes away from the wall of the uterus and is also pushed out of the vagina.
The first stage of labor - dilation   
Dilation of the cervix: The cervix needs to open to about 10cm for a baby to pass through. This is called ‘fully dilated’. Contractions at the start of labor help to soften the cervix so that it gradually opens. Sometimes the process of softening can take many hours before what midwives refer to as ‘established labor’. This is when your cervix has dilated to at least 4cm.
If you go into hospital or your midwifery unit before labor is established, you may be asked if you would prefer to go home again for a while, rather than spending extra hours in hospital.
If you go home, you should make sure that you eat and drink, as you will need energy. At night, try to get comfortable and relaxed.
If you can, try to sleep. A warm bath or shower may help you to relax. During the day, keep upright and gently active. This helps the baby to move down into the pelvis and helps the cervix to dilate.
Once labor is established, the midwife will check you from time to time to see how you are progressing. In a first labor, the time from the start of established labor to full dilation can be between 6 and 12 hours. It is often quicker in subsequent pregnancies.
Your midwife should be with you all the time to support you.
She will tell you to try not to push until your cervix is fully open and the baby’s head can be seen.
To help yourself get over the urge to push, try blowing out slowly and gently or, if the urge is too strong, in little puffs. Some people find this easier lying on their side, or on their knees and elbows, to reduce the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix.

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