eHealthPedia >

Stages of Labor

Stages of Labor
Stages of Labor
Symptoms of Labor
Treating pain during labor

Labor, delivery and childbirth
Labor is the process by which contractions of the uterus cause birth.  Many women, especially with their first babies, think they are in labor when they're not.  Common questions include, "What happens during labor?  What do contractions feel like?  And how do I know that labor has begun?"  We'll review each of these questions and provide you with the answers you need.  Understanding the typical signs of labor can help you know what to expect as your due date approaches.

First, it is important to know that every labor is different. The duration and progression of labor differs from woman to woman and from birth to birth. There are, however, general guidelines for labor that a doctor uses to decide whether the delivery is normal, or not. And the basic process is the same. Labor occurs in three stages which are:

1. Dilation and effacement

2. Baby delivery

3. Placenta delivery

During stage 1, or dilation and effacement,  the cervix thins out and opens to allow the fetus to move from the uterus into the vagina. This stage usually lasts several hours. By the end of the first stage, the cervix will have fully dilated from 0-3 cm to around 10 cm. When the cervix is 3 to 4 cm dilated, active labor begins. Contractions become more intense and more frequent, and the cervix dilates faster. First time mothers usually progress faster through this stage.

During stage 2, or the baby delivery, the mother pushes while the muscles of the uterus contract to move the fetus through the birth canal.  The second stage of labor may last 2 or 3 hours, depending the position of the baby's head, the size of the baby and the size of the birth canal.  This stage ends when the baby is born.

During stage 3, or placenta delivery, the afterbirth comes out of the uterus through the birth canal. This usually happens within 30 minutes after the birth of the baby. 

1 2 3 >>
Tags: what do contractions feel like, baby delivery, contractions, Childbirth, afterbirth, placenta, Due date, muscles, vagina, cervix, woman, head, baby due date, baby stages, Labor Delivery, baby labor, after childbirth, baby questions, become doctor, babies birth
Related Topics
Bladder muscle contractions
DoctorQuestion  4102 views
Need Advice...contractions???
melanie18058  1429 views
My Birth Story!!
pixma  1602 views
Non-painful Contractions?
Chi87  4552 views
Mucus Plug?
Dannzibelle  3000 views
Rheumatoid Or Not?
lagolding  1770 views
Consequences of epidural anesthesia
DoctorQuestion  4466 views
lauren1416  1928 views
Spinal Headache From Epidural
sherry24  7288 views
Is An Epidural Injection Painful?
Andrew1  7547 views
Caudal Epidural Steroid Injection
Video_Junkie  14722 views
Natural Induction of Labor?
ashle777  2203 views
Contractions At 35 Weeks
bamagirl  6560 views
callie8323  1800 views
Genital warts affecting cervix during labor
concerned grandmom  4259 views
Mucus Plug
ebarnhard33  8329 views
rae_06  2756 views
Ask a Doctor