Prelabour and onset of labour are terms
associated with ninth month of pregnancy. Here’s a complete guide to the
different stages of labour and health status of the pregnant woman in each
Childbirth is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and unique
occurrence that a woman has in her life. No two deliveries ever happen in
exactly the same way. Once you are nearing the end of your pregnancy
term, you ought to be prepared for the labour stage that will mark the onset of
the birth process. There are three stages to it:
1. Stage 1 – The
first stage of labour is known as the pre-labour
or early stage where the cervix begins to dilate to around 3 to 10 cms.
2. Stage 2 – The
second stage of labour is known as the active labour phase and a condition
where the dilation exceeds 10 cm till the baby is completely out of the uterus.
3. Stage 3 – In the third
stage of labour the placenta is delivered.
Each stage is an adventure of sorts for the mother and a plethora of
emotions will be experienced in each one of them. Here is how you could deal
with each of the stages.
The Pre-Labour Phase
This is a stage when one should have a calm mind and try to relax
completely. You should be in a familiar environment and a soothing company.
There is no need to rush and get yourself admitted at the hospital, but you
must follow your doctor’s advice and never forget to monitor or keep a constant
track of the contractions. Note the intensity and the pattern.
If this phase sets in early in the day, you can try to keep yourself relaxed
and occupied with the regular routines of regular life. Make note that you must
not exert yourself but conserve your energy for the big hour. Make sure that
you keep yourself well hydrated as dehydration will not only cause other
associated complications but also sap energy which is so required at this
stage. You can also snack on small and easy to digest meals so as to feel
refreshed and rejuvenated.
If the pre-term labour begins during the night, it is a good idea to catch
some sleep. If you are unable to do that, engage in some light activities like
listening to music, reading or even packing some light items for your hospital
Following is the health status during the first stage of labour.
- The early labour stage lasts for about 8-12 hours.
- The contractions will be experienced for 30-45 seconds, with a 5-30 minutes of gap in between.
- Contractions will start off as mild ones but get progressively intense and frequent.
- Initially you will feel a lower back ache and cramps similar to what you feel during periods.
- You will also feel intense pressure in the pelvic region.
- The amniotic sac might rupture within or after the first stage of labour. You must report to the doctor the time of rupture and the colour of the fluid.
- You might find it difficult, but you need to maintain your calm at this stage.
Active Labour Phase
You should head to the hospital at this stage. The contractions now will be
more intense and frequent. You must maintain your calm and be provided with a
lot of physical and mental support. A few simple relaxation and breathing
exercises will help you feel better. Switch your positions often to attain the
maximum comfort. Make sure that you are drinking a lot of water and a slight
walk or a warm bath will help you relax a lot at this stage.
The Health Status
Let us have a look at the health status during the active labour phase.
- This active labour stage will last for 3-5 hours.
- The dilation of the cervix will be between 4-7 cm or even 10.
- The contractions will be felt for 45-60 seconds with 3-5 minutes of gap in between.
- The intensity and frequency will increase steadily
The family should note that at this stage, the woman would require plenty of
emotional assurance and support. A light massage on her abdomen and lower back
will help her to relax. Do not forget to monitor the contractions and it also
helps if someone accompanies her with the breathing exercises; it will help her
concentrate. Ensure her comfort with some prop up pillows.
During this stage the woman is completely dependant on her support person.
It is a very short phase and a challenging one too. It is advisable to
concentrate on the contractions one at a time and reminiscence on the journey
of your pregnancy. Make sure you tell the support staff and your doctor when
you feel like pushing.
Have a quick look at the health status during the active labour phase.
- This transition phase can last between 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- The dilation of the cervix might be up to 10 cm or more.
- The contractions are not only intense now, but they will also overlap.
- There can be vomiting, feeling of nausea, accompanied by chills and hot flashes.
It is best to keep talking to the woman at this stage. This will make her
feel better and also help to deviate her attention from the pain and
discomfort. But avoid small talk, make sure that you are making her feel good,
praise her and offer encouragement and support.