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The big day has finally arrived. You’re nervous, excited and ready for anything ... then again, you’re not feeling ready at all! So what is giving birth actually like? We’ve got thousands of mums who’ll tell you all about their own labour and birth experiences - just add a post and ask! Of course, we’re here to help take away your worries about childbirth too, from the first signs of labour to the joy of having your baby.
First stage of labour
The first stage of labour is divided into two phases: ‘early’ and ‘established’ labour. Early labour can last from 6 hours to 2+ days, and your cervix dilates up to 4cm (don’t be scared, it does sound like a long time!). It might start when your ‘waters break’, but this isn’t always the case. Early labour is characterised by irregular cramping and mild contractions that slowly increase in strength, length and frequency, until you’re in established labour. In established labour, your cervix dilates from 4cm up to 10cm - and you won’t be able to talk through your contractions anymore!
Before the next stage starts, there’s a period called the ‘transition’. This is usually between 8-10cm dilated and it’s quite common for you to feel overwhelmed, like you can’t go on, or want more pain relief ... quick, give me everything, now! Hang in there, because before you know it, you’ll be onto your second stage of labour.
Second stage of labour
This is the ‘pushing’ stage - when you’re 10cm dilated and it’s time for baby to come out. You may notice that the contractions are less painful because you’re too busy focusing on pushing!
Third stage of labour
The third stage of labour means your baby is now born! You’ll be happy and so in love beyond words, but you still need to deliver your placenta and membrane sack. Don’t worry - there are no bones or body so it isn’t as hard as birthing baby. There are two ways to do this: the natural or physiological method, or the active management method. Make sure you discuss these options with your midwife and include it in your birth plan before the big day.
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- Check out our tips on how to get through labour
Posted by AmandaM (Karimums Midwife)
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