Labor is the physiological process that the body goes through in order to give birth to your baby.
There are many stages to this process and your body will feel differently as it copes with each of these stages.
The first stage or early /latent phase is one where contractions start out usually mild and irregular. It may be hard to tell if these are more of the Braxton hicks contractions or the real thing. The work of the body in this phase is to thin and start to open the cervix and help it get ready for the next phase. In this stage mom may want to get her nest ready. She may be excited and nervous. She may experience a burst of energy. It is important for her to eat lightly, stay well hydrated and not exhaust herself in this phase of labor. This may be a long trip and starting out rested and nutritionally prepared is helpful.
The next stage of the process is active labor. Here contractions become stronger and more regular. They don’t go away with distractions and mom finds herself no longer able to walk or talk through a contraction. She is usually 4- 7 centimeters dilated.
Then comes transition. Mom is usually about 8-9 centimeters dilated and the contractions are very intense. They are every couple of minutes lasting 60-70 seconds long. Concentration is difficult at this time. During this stage mom may not want to hear a lot of chit chat and may not even want to be touched. A good coach can get her through this stage and the good news is this stage goes by very quickly and then it is time to push.
One the cervix is fully dilated or 10 centimeters dilated and the baby is down low in the birth canal mom will begin to feel pressure in her rectum and a strong urge to push. Her provider will tell her when it is time to push and the physical work now begins. This stage is hard work and mom will appreciate a cold cloth to her head, sips of fluid or ice chips and lots of encouragement. Her reward is right around the corner as she pushes the baby out and it is placed in her arms. This leaves the delivery of the placenta and her work is done.