Women's experiences with labor and birth vary widely, from woman to woman, from one phase of labor to another and from one labor to the next. Your labor will be unique, influenced by many factors: the size and position of your baby, your health and medical history, your expectations and feelings, the people who surround and support you, your professional attendants, and the place you labor and give birth.
But despite the variations, there is a common theme: the natural flow of labor. This process involves interplay between your body and your baby, as your baby moves lower down in your uterus and your cervix changes in preparation for birth. During your pregnancy, your body has held and protected your baby. Your cervix has been firmly sealed with a plug of mucus and the baby has grown within the protective amniotic sac. Now your body needs to soften, open, and yield to allow the baby to pass through. Labor contractions will firmly squeeze and push the baby down and the baby will rotate to navigate the birth canal. The birth process progresses from the opening (dilation) of your cervix to your baby's descent and birth, to the delivery of the placenta.