The momentous day has finally arrived. You are about to give birth to a baby, the culmination of exciting, anxious, and somewhat discomforting stages of pregnancy. On the eventful day when your baby is about to be born, you will be taken to a labor or delivery room. You will be here until you deliver the baby and then maybe for some more time before being transferred into the postpartum area.
It is comforting to know that modern medical care has eliminated practically all risks associated with childbirth. Your doctor will monitor you constantly, and specially trained nurses will assist him during those final moments. If you so desire, you can even allow your husband or support person to be beside you to provide that reassuring moral and emotional support.
Here is some basic information about the four stages of normal human birth.
This is the first phase of labor. During this time, you may very well be figuring whether you are experiencing true labor or Braxton Hicks contractions. Cervical effacement or cervical dilation occurs during the closing weeks of pregnancy and is usually complete. Effacement of the cervix is the shortening or thinning of the tissue before or during early labor.
The first stage of labor starts when the effaced cervix is 3 cm dilated. Contractions will now become more frequent to as close as 2—4 minutes apart. The contractions will last longer than those will occur during the latent phase, and will be more intense requiring uterine muscle control from the mother-to-be.
Some of the symptoms that you may experience are:
- Spontaneous rupture of your membranes. If they do not occur, you may like to ask your doctor about it whether they need to be ruptured for medical reasons.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Heightened stress, increased respirations, and pulse rate.
- Muscle tension throughout the body
- Increased fatigue.
This stage begins when the cervix is fully dilated. This is the last part of active labor. Your cervix dilates to 8—10 centimeters (3.5—4 inches). Contractions are very strong occurring every two to three minutes. At the beginning of the normal second stage, the widest part of the head has successfully passed through the pelvic brim. Birth of the fetal head signals the successful delivery by extension. Your doctor will suction your baby’s mouth and nose and feel around his neck for the umbilical cord. The baby’s head turns to the side and its shoulders emerge one at a time followed by the body.
Your baby is now born and needs to be kept warm. Your doctor will dry your newborn with a towel and will quickly suction the baby’s mouth and nasal passages if it has a lot of mucus.
The baby develops in the uterus with a life support system composed of the umbilical cord and placenta filled with amniotic fluid. Placenta is an organ that connects the developing tissues to the uterine wall. The placenta’s role is to supply the little one with maternal nutrients. In the third stage, the uterus expels the placenta usually within 15—30 minutes of the baby being born. You will experience some blood loss that will normally be not more than 600 milliliters.
Learning to take care of your baby is now uppermost in your mind. Your caregiver will assist you with all information.
Now is also the time to take care of your body. You are now in the postpartum period when you need to progress physically and emotionally. Take plenty of rest, adequate nutrition, and seek support from your loved ones. You and your baby deserve it.