Labor is broken down into three main stages:
- First Stage: This is where the bulk of the contractions are felt and the cervix dilates and thins completely. It starts at the beginning of labor and continues until you are 10 centimeters dilated. The labor portion lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days, with the majority being easier, early labor. There are three phases of the first stage.
- Second Stage: Once you've dilated to 10 centimeters, you are in second stage of labor, the pushing phase. This will end with the birth of the baby. This stage can last a few minutes or several hours. It is important to note that simply being 10 centimeters does not mean that you will actually push.
- Third Stage: When you've got your baby in your arms, this stage often gets neglected, but it begins with the birth of the baby and ends with the birth of the placenta. It generally takes less than an hour, though it can go on longer without complications for some women.
We're going to focus on the three phases of the first stage this week, saving pushing and placenta for next week.