The Stages of Labour Outline

There are four main stages of labor. For a more detailed look at these stages, read Stages of Labor.

First Labour Stage
This stage of labour has 3 phases as outlined below. The transitional phase is the most intense phase of the first stage, as the baby is descending into the pelvis. Because the baby pushes down on the cervix, the woman feels the urge to start pushing.

Latent Phase:

  • Contractions become more regular

  • You should dilate 0-3cm

  • Lasts about 3-10 hours
  • Active Phase:

  • Contractions are a lot stronger and closer together

  • You should dilate 3-8cm

  • Lasts about 3-8 hours
  • Transition Phase:

  • Contractions are now every 30-90 seconds

  • You should dilate 8-10cm

  • Lasts about 15-60 minutes
  • Second Labour Stage: Pushing
    Once your cervix has fully dilated to 10cm, you are ready to push. The contractions are now further apart occurring every 2-3 minutes but lasting for 50-90 seconds. The baby is out of the uterus and is in the birth canal. The urge to push is uncontrollable. You will experience a stretching sensation as the baby’s head is crowning and a feeling of absolute relief once the baby is born.

    Third Labour Stage: Delivery of the Placenta
    Once the baby is born, the abdomen will continue to contract and the placenta separates from the uterine wall and follows out of the birth canal.

    Fourth Labour Stage
    This final stage refers to the first hour after delivery. This is the stage where the mother tries breastfeeding her baby and the new family recovers from the birth. This is precious time spent bonding and just cuddling your newborn.


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