|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.