The first stage starts with true labor pains, which are contractions that cause the cervix to open and complete when the cervix is fully dilated at 10 cm.
The first stage of labor is the beginning of the process of giving birth. It can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and there are several things that you can expect during this time. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about the first stage of labor!
What is the first stage of labor?
The first stage starts with true labor pains, which are contractions that cause the cervix to open and complete when the cervix is fully dilated at ten centimeters.
The first stage of labor is when the cervix begins to dilate and efface. It is concerned with preparing the birth canal to allow the fetus to depart in the second stage. This can happen slowly over days or more quickly as labor progresses. The first stage of labor is usually the longest, lasting anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for first-time moms. However, subsequent labors tend to be shorter.
During the first stage of labor, contractions will become more frequent, longer, and stronger. They may last for 30 to 60 seconds and occur every five to 20 minutes. As labor progresses, the contractions will become closer together and more intense.
What are the signs that labor is starting?
The signs that labor is starting are:
- Contractions that become regular and more frequent
- A bloody show
- Water breaking
Events in the first stage of labor
Events in the first stage of labor progress in three phases:
1. Latent phase
The latent phase is the longest part of the first stage of labor. It can last for several hours to a day or two. During this phase, the cervix dilates from 0 to about three centimeters, and the contractions are irregular and far apart. This is a good time to get some rest because things are about to pick up.
2. Active phase
The active phase of labor is when the cervix dilates from three to seven centimeters, and contractions become more regular. They usually last for 30 to 60 seconds and occur every three to five minutes. This is when most women head to the hospital.
The transition phase is the shortest but most intense part of labor. It usually lasts for 30 minutes to two hours. The cervix dilates from seven to ten centimeters, and contractions become even more frequent, lasting for 60 to 90 seconds and occurring every two to three minutes. This is when things start to hurt, and many women ask for pain medication.
The first stage of labor is complete when the cervix is fully dilated at ten centimeters. You will be checked for dilation and effacement during each vaginal exam. Your healthcare provider will also feel the baby’s head to check its descent, called the station.
Status of membranes
The status of your membranes will also be checked during each vaginal exam. If your water has broken, you will be admitted to the hospital. If your water has not broken, your healthcare provider may break your water to speed up labor. This is called an artificial rupture of membranes (ARM).
ARM is associated with a decreased risk of infection and shorter labor. However, it can also increase the risk of complications such as cord prolapse, so it is not always recommended.
The first stage of labor can be very painful. Many women opt for an epidural to help manage the pain. An epidural is regional anesthesia that numbs the lower half of your body while allowing you to remain awake and alert.
Your condition will also be monitored during labor. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature will be checked periodically. The baby’s heart rate will also be monitored.
You will be encouraged to move around during labor to help the baby descend. Walking, rocking, and changing positions are all good ways to do this. The first stage of labor can be a long and difficult process, but it is also an amazing one. You will be amazed at what your body can do!
What can you do during the first stage of labor?
There are a few things you can do to help make the first stage of labor more bearable:
- Get some rest. The first stage of labor can be a long one, so it’s important to get as much rest as you can. Try to take a nap or two during the early stages of labor.
- Drink lots of fluids. Staying hydrated will help you cope with the pain of labor. Drink clear fluids such as water, juice, or tea. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat light meals. You may not feel like eating, but it’s important to keep your energy up. Stick to light, easily digestible foods such as soup, crackers, or fruit.
- Walk around. Walking can help the baby descend and may also help relieve pain.
- Try different positions. Changing positions can help you cope with the pain of labor and may also help the baby descend.
- If you suspect that your water has broken, tell your doctor.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about pain relief options. There are a variety of pain relief options available, including epidurals, and your healthcare provider can help you choose the best one for you.
- Stay positive. The first stage of labor can be tough, but it’s important to stay positive. Remember that the end is in sight, and you will be holding your baby before you know it!
If you’re having a difficult time coping with the pain of labor, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your healthcare team is there to support you and will do everything they can to help you through this incredible process.