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  Stages of Labour
 
Labour is regular contractions of the uterus that result in dilation of the cervix. This first stage of childbirth is divided into 3 phases. Phase 1 is called the Latent or Early Phase. It is the longest part of labour and includes the thinning of the cervix by a dilation of 3 cm. This is followed by phase 2 with an extension to 7 cm, named the Active phase. In the last period, the transitional, the cervix gets dilated up to 10 cm, which is fully dilated.

The 1st Phase of labour

Phase One is usually the longest but least painful part of labour. Characteristically it is the dilation of the cervix to 3 cm and the supplementary thinning out (effacement). This process could last a few days or weeks, occasionally without noticeable contractions. But also it can take two to six hours of conspicuous labour. The contractions itself last 30 to 45 seconds, but can be shorter too. You may experience sensations as backache, menstrual like cramps, indigestion, diarrhea, a feel of warmth in the abdomen or blood tinged mucousy discharge. Further your emotions could vary as much as in the beginning of your pregnancy. You may feel excitement, anxiety and fear or be relaxed and chatty.

The 2nd Phase of labour

The second phase is generally shorter then the first. Mostly lasting two to three hours. The contractions are more often now and more concentrated. While they become stronger and more frequented the cervix gets dilated up to 7 cm. In the active phase the mother-to-be has less time to rest between the contractions, but enough to relax and to save her energy for what is coming. Emotionally the symptoms and sensations of the first phase increase and you will feel restless and exhausted. Some women go to the hospital during this phase while some are already in hospital. But in the case that your cervix dilation takes a week or two, you won’t recognize labour until Transition (Phase 3) begins.

The 3rd Phase of labour

In the transition contractions will be very strong and occur more often. They will last up to sixty seconds and occur two to three minutes apart. Most women experience intense peaks, which could last for a whole contraction, further it feels like the contractions never disappear completely. In Phase three the final cervix dilation up to 10 cm takes place, probably in 15 minutes to an hour. You will feel nausea and drowsiness, or tightening of throat or chest. Some women also experience disorientation, restlessness or an excitement reaching a fever.

 
   
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