The Stages of Childbirth

Each woman’s childbirth is different from the next, so it’s difficult to know what to expect when your labour begins. It might be helpful to know that there are 3 set stages that you should expect to go through before your baby finally arrives; how long these stages go on for or what your experience of them will be is another matter!

The First Stage

This stage involves your cervix becoming fully ready for the birth of your child. It moves forward, ripens and opens up to its fully dilated state of 10cm. This is the long, hard part that you’ll most associate with the thought of labour. Each contraction works toward opening your cervix a little more, preparing your body for the baby’s descent.

The Second Stage

The phase is when you’ll finally get to meet your baby! Once your cervix is fully dilated you’ll begin to feel an urge to push that probably wasn’t there with your previous contractions. You’ll feel the pressure of your baby’s head descending in your pelvis, and as you begin to push he’ll move further down. When the head begins to come out through the vagina, a moment known as ‘crowning’, you may feel an increased stinging, but you’ll know that you’re almost there! You’ll then be able to breathe and push more gently, and your baby will be in the world and taking his first breaths.

The Third Stage

In your mind, your labour will be over by this point and you’ll be enjoying the first moments of bonding with your new little one, but there is a third stage. This begins after your baby’s birth, and involves the delivery of the placenta and membranes remaining in your uterus. This should happen naturally and you may hardly notice it compared to the contractions and pushing you’ve just experienced. Skin to skin contact and breastfeeding should help stimulate the final contractions, and your third stage will be at an end.


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