Labour is broken up into phases and stages. Every experience is different and varies in length.
1st stage - 0-10 cm Early phase - 0-3 cm. This is the start of labour. It’s generally the longest phase, but also the easiest. This is a great time to get a nap in (if you can), bake a cake, clean your house, go for a walk, or pack your hospital bag.
Active labour - 4-7 cm. During active labour, things are starting to get more intense. You won’t be talking as much through contractions, you might be getting tired, and you’ll need to focus on relaxing your muscles during contractions.
Transition - 7-10 cm. This is generally the quickest phase. You might feel like giving up, you’ll feel shaky, and you might be throwing up, but you are so close to the finish line! Just keep focusing on what you need to be doing and shut out any distractions. Let those surges push baby down further.
2nd stage - 10 cm to birth Pushing - this can last anywhere from 1 minute to 3 hours. Some women view pushing as a great relief, because instead of just trying to get through the contraction, you are now able to actively work with the contraction. The flip side to that, is that although you don’t feel the contraction as much when you push, you will feel more pressure on your bottom, especially as baby’s head starts to crown. At this point, you will be told to slow down your pushing and breathe the baby down, in order to reduce your risk of tearing. Once the head is out, it’s then best to wait for the next contraction to push the body out. Baby exits the womb with umbilical cord still attached and a surge of oxytocin will help the placenta to start to detach from the wall of the uterus.
3rd stage - delivery of the placenta The placenta is generally delivered between 10-20 minutes after the delivery, but can sometimes take longer. To encourage the placenta to detach, and for your uterus to continue to contract down in size, you will either be given a shot of synthetic oxytocin to speed up the process, or your health care provider will wait for your natural oxytocin to do the work. Attaching babe to the breast can help with this oxytocin release. If you happened to tear during pushing, you will be given some freezing and will be stitched up after the placenta has been delivered.