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Stages and Phases of Labor: Stage 1

calendarJuly 26, 2016
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Early stages of pregnancy

Normally, pregnancy lasts around 40 and up to 42 weeks. The stages of pregnancy are called trimesters. Pregnancy can be divided into three trimesters and each lasts between 12 and 14 weeks.

First Trimester of Pregnancy

This is the period between the first week and the 13th week of pregnancy. Significant changes will take place in your body. In the first month after conception, the hormone levels in your body will change a lot. You will probably feel common pregnancy symptoms such as sickness, fatigue, headache, constipation, increased heart rate and others. This trimester is very important for your baby as all of its organs will develop by the end of the third month of pregnancy.

During this important period, you need to have a healthy diet. Many pregnant women need additional intake of folic acid as it has major role in preventing neural tube defects. This is also the moment to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Having healthy regime will also help you feel better and relieve the pregnancy symptoms which are characteristic of the early stages of pregnancy.

Second Trimester of Pregnancy

The second trimester lasts from week 13 to week 27. Many pregnant women state that this is the most comfortable period of pregnancy. This is because the relieving or the disappearing of most of the pregnancy symptoms from the first trimester.

You will probably have better sleep at night and, as a result – a higher tonus during the day. Your pregnancy will now become obvious because of the fast growing of the uterus which will lead to the enlargement of the abdomen. At the end of this trimester, your baby will be almost four times bigger in comparison with the end of the first trimester. Speak about your pregnancy freely and inform your family. No matter whether you want it, it will be obvious that you are pregnant. So, let the ones close to you know soon. Thus, you will be able to rely on their adequate reaction if you need some help.

Pregnancy Symptoms During the Second Trimester

The symptoms of the first trimester will probably disappear but you might face new ones. Leg cramps and heartburn may bother you but you will generally feel better than during the first trimester. You will have more energy and will be able to cope with more tasks during the day. This is the moment to talk to your health specialist about the medical problems that you have and that might have negative impact on the development of the baby.

Third Trimester of Pregnancy

It takes the period from week 28 of the pregnancy to giving birth. During this trimester you need to have regular visits to your doctor for monitoring your blood pressure and heart rate, testing your urine for protein and overall examination of your health condition and the one of your baby. Talk to your health specialist if you have noticed any bothering symptoms as bleeding and others.

The doctor also has to check the position of the baby. If it is not normal, this might endanger your health and the one of your baby. Your health specialist will be able to react in the case of preterm labor, so do not ignore the regular medical examinations.

Prepare For Giving Birth

During the third trimester it is a good idea to visit a childbirth class. This will help you learn useful information about what will happen to you and the baby in the following weeks. Also, the practical training classes will prepare you and your partner what to expect. Attending such classes is the way to learn about the stages of labor, what to do in early labor and others. Inform the ones close to you what they will have to do to help you if your labor starts and your partner is not around.

You should not try to cope by yourself, so be sure that there is someone around you if you need something. What is Labor? This is the process of the leaving of the uterus by the fetus and the placenta. Just like the pregnancy, labor has three phases. How Many Stages of Labor Are There? The three phases of labor are known as early, active and transitional labor.

Stage 1: Early labor

Average labor time

This is the first of the 3 stages of labor. It is also known as a latency stage. The beginning of labor is connected with regular contractions and dilation and effacement of the cervix. In most of the cases, it is hard to say when true labor starts because there is no distinct beginning. Many pregnant women find it hard to distinguish the real contractions from the Braxton Hicks contractions which might appear right before and cause a condition, called false labor.

Timing contractions helps you find out whether they are real ones and your labor has started. When you are in the stage of early labor, your contractions will gradually become longer and stronger and will appear in a shorter period. At the end of this phase, they will appear every five minutes or less and will last around 40 to 60 seconds. To feel better during this phase, you might want to take walk around or a warm bath.

You might also experience a vaginal discharge with some blood – this is a bloody show. It is normal but if you notice something that you consider disturbing about your bloody show and contractions, call your doctor. This stage ends when your cervix is about 4 to 6 centimeters dilated. Then, when you have 7 cm, 10 cm dilated, etc. this is the second stage of labor, called active labor. The last one is the transition phase of labor.

How Long Does Early Labor Last?

Because it is often hard to determine the start of early labor, it is not also easy to say how long it lasts. It depends on the physical condition of the woman and whether she has given birth before. When this is her first baby early, labor can last between 6 and 12 hours. Still, there are cases when it lasts much longer or shorter. This stage usually lasts less time when the woman has given birth before.

How to Feel Better During Early Labor?

You need to relax when the contractions during labor appear. Timing them will help you understand what is happening and in what stage of labor you are. But there is no need to pay attention to each contraction and its duration. This will cost you precious energy which you will need during the next stages of labor. It is important to rest while you have this opportunity. You might have a long day or night coming soon.

Stay Hydrated

You need to drink a lot of water and other liquids. The adequate hydration is important for you and the baby. Another thing you should do along with the hydration is to urinate often. Go to the bathroom regularly even if you do not feel the urge. Giving birth more easily depends on this since the full bladder will probably make it more difficult for the uterus to contract efficiently. The empty bladder leaves more room and makes it easier for the baby to descend.

Exercises For Relaxation

Relaxing, non-intensive exercises will help you feel better and calm down. You might try gentle gymnastic or yoga for pregnant. Be sure to consult with your doctor what exercises are suitable for you. Pay attention how you feel and have a rest immediately if you feel tired.

Signs of Labor

During the last weeks of pregnancy, you will probably notice these 9 early signs of labor:

1. The Baby Descends During the last few weeks you will notice how the baby has started to descend. It happens because the baby takes position to exit with its head down. Many pregnant women have the same need for frequent urination just like in the first trimester. This happens because the head of the baby head is now pushing the bladder. As already mentioned, do not forget to go to the bathroom often. This will also help you avoid infections.

2. The cervix dilates and effaces This is a part of the preparation of the body for giving a birth. The cervix needs to open and become thinner. These changes should be tracked by your healthcare specialist. Your doctor will measure your partly or fully dilated cervix with a dilation chart.

3. The joints become looser Your body prepares for giving birth with significant softening and losing of your joints and ligaments As a result, you might feel a little clumsy, but there is nothing to worry about. This is because of the higher levels of the hormone called "relaxin" in your body and the condition will disappear after the baby is born.

4. Pain Feelings Pre-labor cramps and pain might appear as your muscles and joints are stretching and shifting while preparing for the birth. You might also feel pain in the lower back as one of the early signs of labor.

5. Diarrhea As your body prepares for giving birth, all of your muscles loosen, including the rectum ones. This might cause you diarrhea which is not dangerous for you and the baby. Just drink more water to avoid dehydration. This is an unpleasant symptom but it will not harm you if you succeed to prevent dehydration.

6. Loss of Energy You might feel out of energy just like in the first trimester. The additional weight which you bear now might totally exhaust you. If you notice problems sleeping through the night, then you should have regular rests through the day. There are exceptions and some pregnant women even feel totally energetic days or weeks before labor. If you happen to be one of them, do not forget to have rest. You might want to tidy up around you, but you would better leave this for now. You will soon need this energy for giving birth.

7. Your Weight Finally Stops Increasing It is possible to discover that your weight has stopped increasing. You might even lose a couple of kilograms. There is no reason to worry - the baby is still gaining weight. When you lose weight in the last weeks of pregnancy this usually happens because of the decreasing levels of amniotic fluid in your body.

8. Appearing of real contractions They are different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions which could last for weeks and even months before giving birth. The real ones are more intensive and usually follow a specific time pattern.

9. When your water breaks This popular pre-labor sign actually appears late if it appears at all. Just pay attention to the other common signs of being in labor when you try to find in which of the stages of birth you are.

Is Nausea a Sign of Labor?

Yes, nausea/vomiting is a common symptom of labor. Just like diarrhea, this is a mechanism of the body to empty all the stomach contents. This is one of its ways to prepare for giving birth.

How to Understand That You Are in the Early Labor Stage?

Because there is so much individuality in the duration of this stage, it is not always easy to find out when it has started and when it has ended. Still, there are signs that you will probably notice during the latent stage of labor:

  • mild to moderate contractions - they usually last between 30 to 45 seconds or less. They might be regular or irregular but they become progressively closer together;
  • backache – it might be either constant or appearing together with each contraction;
  • cramps;
  • indigestion;
  • bloody show;
  • diarrhea;
  • a warm sensation in the abdomen;
  • water breaks – this might happen in the early labor stage but is a more common symptom of the active labor phase.

What Does Transition Mean?

The third phase of labor is called the transition phase of labor. The transition is the shortest phase of labor. The average labor time of this stage might be between half an hour and 1,5 hours.

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