Stages of Labor During Pregnancy

Submitted by Nick on January 30, 2012

Pregnancy labor is a crucial time that marks the end of a long pregnancy term. As the baby prepares for delivery, it turns up side down, with its head resting on the uterine mouth, in position for easy passage through the cervix. This causes the abdomen to drop. As the cervix prepares to dilate so as to allow the baby to pass through, the protective mucus plug dislodges and is either passed out through the vagina like a big mass or in the form of discharge that may be blood stained. Hence, early signs of impending labor include the descending of the pregnant belly and the expulsion of the mucus plug through the vagina.


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Some women experience these indicators of labor weeks prior to actual labor while some may experience them just a few days before the onset of labor.

Pregnancy labor at the time of delivery is divided into two main parts. They are the early labor or latent labor phase and the active labor phase.

The early or latent phase of labor lasts for one to a few days and is characterized by mild or moderate contractions that may last for less than a minute. These contractions are irregular and are mainly experienced in the abdominal area. As labor progresses, contractions are more pronounced in the back. During this stage, the cervix begins to dilate. Getting as much sleep as possible during this period is recommended as sleep will be rare to come by once the baby is born. Nipple stimulation and walks are known to quicken labor.

Active labor starts with the dilation and thinning of the cervix. A woman’s cervix dilates up to 10 centimeters in diameter to facilitate child birth. As the cervix dilates, the contractions increase in severity as well as frequency and last for approximately a minute, occurring 2 to 3 minutes apart. The amniotic sac usually breaks at this stage and the baby makes its way into the birthing canal. This is the most painful part of the birthing process. The second stage of active labor is the actual birth of the baby that occurs as a result of pushing the baby out through the vagina. At this time, the mother may experience a lot of pressure in her pelvic region, vagina or back. The duration of this stage of labor varies from woman to woman. The last stage of active labor is the detachment and the expulsion of the placenta from the uterus. The placenta also needs some amount of pushing in order to be passed out.

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