The Stages of Labor


Presentation Description | While every woman is unique, there are distinct stages and phases of labor. Knowing what to expect will help you prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for childbirth.


Presentation Transcript

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Some women are in labor for many hours even up to a full day or more while others deliver within a matter of two or three hours. A woman’s first baby typically takes longer to deliver than subsequent deliveries. Knowing what to expect during labor will help you prepare for childbirth. Let’s take a look at the stages and phases of labor.

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The first stage of childbirth is labor which is further broken down into three distinct phases that include: • Phase 1: Early labor • Phase 2: Active labor • Phase 3: Transitional labor Let’s explore each phase of labor and what to expect.

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What happens: Dilation and effacement dilation of the cervix happens gradually anywhere from several hours to several weeks a process that allows the baby to move into the birth canal. How long it lasts: Early labor often lasts 6 to 12 hours. It is generally the least painful but longest lasting phase. Expect mild to moderate regular contractions that last 30 to 45 seconds and are spaced 5 to 20 minutes apart.

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What happens: You may feel your water break if it hasn’t already. During active labor your cervix will dilate to 7 centimeters and your contractions will come 3 to 4 minutes apart and last for 40 to 60 seconds. This is the time to ask for an epidural if you’re going to have one. How long it lasts: Active labor can last 2 to 3 ½ hours—less for some women and more for others.

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What happens: Expect strong contractions during transitional labor the phase that occurs before delivery. Contractions can be especially painful during this phase lasting 60 to 90 seconds and spaced 2 to 3 minutes apart. You may feel the urge to push but your healthcare practitioner may ask you to resist until you’re fully dilated to 10 centimeters. How long it lasts: The shortest of the three phases transitional labor typically lasts from 15 minutes to an hour.

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What happens: Now the real work begins. At this stage you should be fully dilated and it’s time to help your baby into the world by pushing. You’ll move into a comfortable position and focus on pushing with your lower body. Your hard work will soon pay off when your baby emerges into the world How long it lasts: Pushing the baby out generally takes 30 minutes to an hour. Contractions will be spaced at 2 to 5 minutes apart and will last for 60 to 90 seconds.

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What happens: The third and final stage of labor is delivering the placenta afterbirth that provided room and board for your baby all those months. You may feel mild contractions that help separate the placenta from the uterine wall. How long it lasts: Expect the delivery of the placenta to last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Immediately following the birth of your baby the physician or midwife will perform cord blood cord tissue or placenta tissue collection if you’ve decided to save this potentially lifesaving material.

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Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells that is easily accessible and only available when your baby is born. These stem cells are genetically unique to your baby and your family and can be used to treat your baby the baby’s siblings and other family members for various diseases and illnesses. Cord tissue and placenta tissue both contain special multipotent stem cells which can differentiate into many different types of cells and can be used to treat a wider range of diseases than cord blood alone.

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Americord is a leader in the advancement of umbilical cord blood cord tissue and placenta tissue banking. As a private bank Americord collects processes and stores newborn stem cells exclusively for each family to use in future medical or therapeutic treatments. Based in New York Americord is registered with the FDA and operates in all 50 states. Learn more about cord blood cord tissues and placental tissue banking at

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Sources • • delivery/in-depth/stages-of-labor/art-20046545 • delivery/childbirth-stages/three-phases-of-labor.aspx

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