Labor is a series of continuous, progressive contractions of the uterus which help the cervix to open (dilate) and to thin (efface), allowing the fetus to move through the birth canal. Labor usually starts two weeks before or after the estimated date of delivery. However, no one knows exactly what triggers the onset of labor.
ContractionsContractions (uterine muscle spasms) occurring at intervals of less than ten minutes are usually an indication that labor has begun; contractions may become more frequent and severe as labor progresses.
Rupture of amniotic sac (bag of waters)Labor sometimes begins with amniotic fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina. Women who experience a rupture of the amniotic sac should contact their doctor or midwife immediately. The majority of women with ruptured membranes go into labor within 24 hours. If labor still has not begun after 24 hours, a woman may be hospitalized for labor to be induced. This step is often taken to prevent infections and delivery complications.
The first phase of the first stage of labor is called the latent phase, when contractions are becoming more frequent (usually 5 to 20 minutes apart) and somewhat stronger. However, discomfort is minimal. The cervix dilates (opens approximately three or four centimeters) and effaces (thins out). Some women may not recognize that they are in labor if their contractions are mild and irregular.
The latent phase is usually the longest and least intense phase of labor. The mother-to-be is usually admitted to the hospital during this phase. Pelvic exams are performed to determine the dilation of the cervix.
The second phase of the first stage (active phase) is signaled by the dilation of the cervix from 4 to 7 centimeters. Contractions become longer, more severe, and more frequent (usually 3 to 4 minutes apart).
The second stage of labor begins when the cervix is completely opened and ends with the delivery of the baby. The second stage is often referred to as the \"pushing\" stage. During the second stage, the woman becomes actively involved by pushing the baby through the birth canal to the outside world. When the baby's head is visible at the opening of the vagina, it is called \"crowning.\" The second stage is shorter than the first stage, and may take between 30 minutes to two hours for a woman's first pregnancy.
After the baby is delivered, the new mother enters the third and final stage of labor--delivery of the placenta (the organ that has nourished the baby inside of the uterus). This stage usually lasts just a few minutes and involves the passage of the placenta out of the uterus and through the vagina.
Each labor experience is different and the amount of time in each stage will vary. However, labor in a first pregnancy usually lasts about 12 to 14 hours. Labor is generally shorter for subsequent pregnancies.
In some cases, labor has to be \"induced,\" which is a process of stimulating labor to begin. The reasons for induction vary. Labor induction is not done before 39 weeks of pregnancy unless there is a problem. Some common reasons for induction include the following:
When a woman arrives at the hospital in labor, the nursing staff may perform a physical examination of the abdomen to determine the size and position of the fetus, and an examination of the cervix. In addition, the nursing staff may check the following:
Intravenous fluids are sometimes given during labor. The intravenous line, a thin plastic tube inserted into a vein (usually in the patient's forearm), can also be used to administer medications. Intravenous fluids are usually given once active labor has begun, and are also needed when a woman has epidural anesthesia.
A woman has many options for managing the discomforts that occur during labor and the birth of her baby. Generally, mothers and their doctors or midwives want to use the safest and most effective method of pain relief for both mother and baby. The choice will be determined by:
Nonmedicated measures--provide comfort and relieve stress, sometimes called natural childbirth. Many women learn special techniques to help them feel more comfortable and in control during labor and birth. Some of these techniques include:
Touch--this may include massage or light stroking to relieve tension. A jetted bath or a shower during labor may also be effective ways to relieve pain or tension. Ask your doctor before taking a tub bath in labor.
Positioning and movement--many women find changing positions and moving around during labor helps relieve discomfort and may even speed labor along. Rocking in a rocking chair, sitting in the \"Tailor sit\" position, sitting on a special \"birthing ball,\" walking, and swaying may be helpful. Your labor nurse or doctor can help you find comfortable positions that are also safe for you and your baby.
Epidural anesthesia (also called an epidural block)--this anesthesia involves infusing numbing medications through a thin catheter that has been inserted into the space that surrounds the spinal cord in the lower back, causing loss of sensation of the lower body. Infusions of medications may be increased or stopped as needed. This type of anesthesia is used during labor and for vaginal and cesarean deliveries. The most common complication of epidural anesthesia is low blood pressure in the mother. Because of this, most woman need to have an intravenous infusion of fluids before epidural anesthesia is given. Another risk of epidural anesthesia is a postpartum headache. It may develop if the epidural needle enters the spinal canal, rather than staying in the space around the canal. The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will discuss the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the various methods of pain relief with the patient.
Epidural analgesia--this is sometimes called a \"walking\" epidural because the medication infused through the epidural is an analgesic, which relieves pain but does not numb the body and allows movement. Combinations of medications may be used in the epidural--part analgesic, part anesthetic. The most common complication of epidural analgesia is low blood pressure in the mother. This type of anesthesia is used during labor and for vaginal deliveries. Another risk of epidural analgesia is a postpartum headache. It may develop if the epidural needle enters the spinal canal, rather than staying in the space around the canal. Epidural analgesia may be used for pain relief in labor and for vaginal deliveries.
Spinal analgesia--this involves injecting a analgesic medication into the spinal fluid to provide pain relief without numbing. Spinal analgesia may be used in combination with epidural anesthesia or analgesia. This may be used during labor for pain relief.
Whether labor begins on its own or you need an induction, it can be helpful to know what you may experience as your labor progresses toward delivering your baby, and when to head to the hospital or birth center.
Below, we explain the three stages of labor and delivery for vaginal births. This includes what marks the start and end of each stage, how long each may last, how your body is likely to feel and more.
Unmedicated methods like hydrotherapy and massage may work great for you, or you may choose medication like an epidural to provide a strong numbing sensation. Generally, you can expect to have a few different options for managing labor and delivery pains, but it can be helpful to research them ahead of time as you write your birth plan.
Labor (childbirth) is the process of a baby leaving your uterus through your vagina or a cesarean birth (c-section). It usually happens between 37 and 42 weeks (9 to 10 months) of pregnancy. There are three stages of labor:
The first stage of labor ends and the second stage begins when your cervix is 10 centimeters dilated. This is usually the most difficult stage of labor because you start trying to push your baby out. It can last anywhere from half an hour to several hours.
Some experts consider the two to three hours after the delivery of the placenta to be a fourth stage of labor. This is the time when parents may start to bond with their new baby. Your uterus also relaxes and healthcare providers monitor you for any abnormal bleeding.
Experts believe that when your baby is ready for birth, they release a small amount of a substance that triggers your hormones to start the labor process. For most people, this happens naturally between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy.
Each stage of labor and delivery will be different for every person. There are some techniques you can use to stay more comfortable during labor. Your healthcare provider may also provide treatments to keep you and your baby safe during labor and delivery.
All people experience the three stages of labor differently. Knowing what to expect during each phase can help you stay calm. Making a detailed birth plan with your healthcare provider is a great way to prepare for labor and delivery. Consider having a designated birthing partner to offer support and encouragement during the process. Your partner might be a spouse, friend, family member or doula.
It is important to understand the calving process and stages of delivery because it can help you recognize normal progression as well as times when you should intervene. At the end of gestation a cow must successfully transition through the delivery process. To do this, cows must negotiate the three stages of delivery with the goal of delivering a live calf. Remember that calving is a strenuous event for cows and dams need to be consuming adequate pre-calving nutrition.
The major event in the second stage of labor (video) is the delivery of a newborn calf. Stage 2 begins when the cervix is completely dilated and the fetus enters the pelvis or birth canal. During this time fetal membranes such as the water bag will become visible followed by the calf itself. In addition to these signs of calving, stage 2 is also characterized by active labor of the cow. The cow will be actively straining to expel the calf that will include the incorporation of an abdominal press. Stage 2 can take up to 2 to 4 hours; but typically in uncomplicated deliveries may only take 30 to 60 minutes. Females can be allowed to continue in stage 2 labor as long as they are making consistent progress in delivering the calf. However, if a cow or heifer has been in stage 2 labor and not making progress, then assistance should be provided. A good rule of thumb is that if a female is in active labor for 30 minutes and not making progress, then help should be provided. Additionally, if the cow becomes exhausted, the calf is stressed or an abnormal presentation is evident then assistance should be provided. Calves that are being stressed during delivery may be difficult to detect; however one sign of a stressed calf is the presence of meconium (yellow) staining on the calf. This is much easier to identify in calves that have white legs or white on their head. Another sign of a stressed calf is a swollen tongue. Once stage 2 labor begins, intervention is not detrimental as long as it is carefully applied and not rushed. 59ce067264