The First Stage.
The first stage with early symptoms showing the labour has started and its purpose is to open the cervix gradually until it becomes fully dilated at eight - ten centimetres.
The Mother's water may break to show that the birth has started but in some cases this does not happen until well into labour or as the child is about to be born. Everything that happens is different to each Mother, no birth or pregnancy is the same. Contractions will tighten and become shorter, stronger and longer... it is at this stage when most Mother's decide to take some form of pain relief. What they take depends on what they believe is best them and their baby, some Mother's prefer to have a natural birth and not use any form of pain relief - drugs or otherwise.
Depending on how the Mother feels she will be asked to be as active as possible throughout the first stage. She should try and stage upright within her bed, maybe walk a little and take a warm, relaxing bath. The Mother should try and entertain herself as this stage, as the longest stage, could last up to fifteen hours. Near to the end of the first stage the baby's head will engage into the pelvis, if it doesn't this could lead to a breech birth or an emergency caesarean.
The contractions will become more intense near to the end of the birth and this can make the Mother feel agitated. The Mother will start to sweat, shiver and in some cases vomit. The loss of bladder and bowel control is not unusual as this is caused by the pressure made from the baby's head on the Mother's pelvis ready for her to give birth.
The Second Stage.
The second stage begins when the cervix has fully dilated to around ten centimetres. This stage ends with the birth of the baby but it is the most tiring stage, it takes about one hours and the Mother becomes exhausting from using so much of her energy to give birth to the baby.
The vagina and cervix have now become one - the birth canal - the baby's head will now be able to move down the birth canal when the Mother starts to push. Each time a contraction starts the Mother will be told to push, helping the baby move down the birth canal. The Father may stay during the birth to give words of encouragement and to hold his partners hand, this gives him chance to be part of the birth of his child. In between each contraction the Mother should rest to give her as much energy as possible to give birth to the baby.
Once the baby's head can be seen the Midwife will tell the Mother to stop pushing and ask her to blow out to allow the baby's head to be born gradually. When the head can be seen at the vaginal opening this is called 'crowning.' It is important for the head to be born slowly to avoid the tearing of the skin between the vagina and rectum - the perineum. Once the head is delivered the hard work is over, the baby's body will be turned to allow one shoulder at a time to be delivered and then the rest of the baby comes out quite easily.
The baby's cord will be clamped and cut, this is the official end of the second stage. Usually, though, the seconds stage also includes the baby being given to the Mother. This can be done in many ways, however the parent's wish for it to be done. The baby can be placed straight on the Mother's stomach or she may prefer for it to be cleaned and wrapped into a towel, it is all about preference really.
The Third Stage.
The third stage is in fact the shortest of all stages. After the baby has been born more contractions will push out the placenta or after birth. This process can take upto one hour but to make it quicker the Midwife generally gives the Mother an injection of syntocin which causes the uterus to contract and prevents heavy blood loss. If a tear has occurred or the perineum has had to be cut it will be stitched at this stage, the Midwife will carry out the stitching using a local anaesthetic to not cause anymore unneeded pain to the Mother.
Once the placenta has been delivered it should be checked to see that it is all intact. If any of the placenta is left in the Mother this could end with an infection for the Mother so all of the placenta must be delivered.
- With thanks to:
- my Child Development teacher and all the notes that she has given me in the past one and a half years.
- 'Everywoman' by Derek Llewellyn - Jones.