Labour and birth are an amazing combination of physiological and psychological forces, that work together to bring your baby into the world.  Women have an innate ability to often birth free of technology or medical intervention.  Labour stages are really just milestones developed for medical and midwifery professionals to use as assessment tools.  For you the mother, labour is one continuum, from onset to completion.  The thinning and opening  phase simply moulds into the birthing phase.


The first stage of labour starts when you are getting regular contractions (5 minutes apart) (surges in hypnobirthing), together with effacement (thinning) and dilatation (opening) of the cervix.  Early labour would be up to 4cms dilated.  You will be considered to be in established labour from 4cms dilated with contractions 5 minutes apart or less. The transition stage is usually from 8cms – 10cms dilated.  Transition is when women will often say “I can’t do this anymore, I’ve had enough” or something similar.

First stage is completed when the cervix is 10cms dilated (opened).  It may also be refered to as being fully dilated (or fully) at 10cms.  This stage could last for around 12 hours in a first pregnancy, but remember that everyone is a unique individual and so it will differ for everyone.   Some women may take a little longer and for others it will be much shorter.


The second stage of labour is from the time the cervix is 10cms or fully dilated, until the birth of the baby.


The third stage of labour is from the birth of the baby, to the expulsion of the placenta and membranes (the covering that encased and nourished your baby) with the attached umbilical cord.  Third stage in hospitals is usually helped along with an injection of a synthetic hormone called syntocinon or syntometrine  (syntocinon and ergometrine) straight after the birth.  This injection helps the placenta to seperate from the wall of the uterus more quickly.  You will always be asked to consent to this injection before it is given, and you have the right to refuse.  Breastfeeding your baby will also help the placenta to detach through the hormones produced and released naturally and this would be called a physiological 3rd stage (no medical interference and as Mother Nature intended).

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