Preparing for Birth Australian Edition Partial Preview - Page 7

Labour and Birth: An Overview The Stages of Labour Labour is divided into three stages, each with unique characteristics. First Stage Labour Cervical Dilation Second Stage Labour Pushing Third Stage Placenta Preview First stage is usually the longest Second stage begins when the Third stage begins once the baby part of labour. It begins with cervix is completely dilated and is born. Contractions continue regular contractions that change the mother begins pushing. It that cause the placenta to detach the cervix. It ends when the cervix ends with the birth of the baby. from the uterus. It ends once the is completely dilated. First stage may last anywhere from a few hours up to 24 hours or more. Second stage may last from a few minutes to four hours. It is usually longer for first babies. mother had pushed the placenta out. Third stage may last a few minutes to 60 minutes. Pre-Labour vs. Established Labour It is common to experience contractions in late pregnancy called pre-labour (or Braxton-Hicks, “warm-up” or “false” labour). These characteristics will help you determine whether your contractions are pre-labour or “real.” Pre-labour contractions may occur any time in the weeks or days prior to birth. This is different from preterm labour (labour prior to 37 weeks), which needs medical attention. Pre-labour Contractions • May be regular or irregular, predictable or unpredictable, vary in frequency or length. • Do not get closer, stronger or longer. • Slow down or stop with a change in activity, such as resting, eating or drinking. • Are felt primarily in the front, or on just one part of the tummy (sometimes just one half). Labour Contractions • Are usually regular and predictable. • Get steadily closer, stronger and longer. • Do not lessen with activity or eating/drinking but may increase in intensity by being active. • Are often felt in the front and back; if just front or just back, contractions are usually symmetric on both sides. Labour and Birth 7