The stages of LABOUR (plus partner tips)

𝞊𝗮𝗿ւ𝓨 ւ𝗮𝕓𝜊𝓾𝗿

At this time contractions are irregular in frequency, length and intensity. They might feel like an abdominal tightening or you may feel ‘crampy’. Unfortunately this stage can  start and stop, so look for consistency. Cervix dilation is 0-4cm (effacement is also important also because it’s the thinning of the cervix) 

What you might feel/experience:
Increased vaginal discharge, diarrhea, bloody show or loss of mucous plug, ruptured membranes (or not as this can happen at any time during the labour process) Try to keep yourself distracted by continuing to live your life! You’ll be able to walk and talk during this stage of labour. It’s suggested to find a balance of movement, rest and nutrition. One could rest, hydrate, nap (if you can), cook/eat, empty your bladder, take a shower, call your midwife, give your doula a heads up. 

𝐩𝐚𝒓ȶת𝓮𝒓 ⏉エ𝐩𝙎: How can you encourage rest? Be present. How can you make sure the household is prepared? Take care of the little things. How can you encourage the oxytocin to flow? Create safety and love.

𝚨𝐜𝐭ⅈⅤల ⌊𝗮Ъס𝐮꜒ 

Cervix is 4-8cm and the effacement of your cervix is thinning/getting shorter. Contractions approximately 5-1-1 (meaning: five minutes apart, lasting for at least one minute for at least one hour) 

You may feel/experience: more intense and more frequent contractions, need to concentrate on contractions now, less concerned about clothing/nudity, less able to communicate clearly verbally, increased need for support
You are encouraged to: head towards or be at your desired birth location, continue to empty bladder frequently, use the shower/bath, move/change positions often 

𝖯αгʈ𝒏𝓮г 𝚻ⲓ𝖯𝓢: Stay present! But also take  breaks. Match their mood. Offer sips of water between contractions. Move together and/or offer physical contact/touch. Utilize massage, counter pressure and/or hip squeezes (learn more about these prenatally) Breathe together (slow and deep)

╥𝖗а𝓷𝘀i七iօ𝓷

The birthing body is progressing from opening the cervix to the descent of the baby. Cervix is 8-10cm (fully dilated) Contractions are every 2-3 minutes apart (or sometimes less) 

You may feel/experience: feeling hot, sweating, nausea and/or vomiting, shaking, rectal pressure, fear (like you can’t go on/can’t do this) 

ᑭа𝐫七𝓷e𝐫 七iⲣ𝘀: Stay close (hear your voice, feel your presence, look in their eyes) to allow them to stay in the moment and turn inward. Verbal encouragement (the baby is coming, they are doing it, I love you) Move with them. Assist them in changing positions. Breathe with them (reminder when exhausted, use horse lips) Know there will be sound (may be loud, strong, deep and sometimes sounds like moaning) Keep them cool (fan, wash cloth, sips of water) Try touch (some may want less or no touch at this point)

𝗉𝔲𝓢𝒉וֹກ𝖌 

At this point in labour, the cervix is fully dilated and fully effaced. This stage can last as little as a few minutes or as long as up to 2 hours. 

You may feel/experience: Pressure in your rectum and perineum (constant). Urge to push is uncontrollable. Stretching or burning sensations. Feeling like you have to poop. Noises might change from sounding like moaning to more ‘grunty’ or ‘pushy’
This stage can be either or a mix of: intuitive (breathing and pushing follows the direction of the birthing person) coached (often by midwife or nurse and instructed to inhale, bear down, push for 10 seconds)

ᑭа𝐫七𝓷e𝐫 七iⲣ𝘀: Support their physical body in the position they are in whether it is – laying on your backside layinglevelled sitting or inclined laying squat (could be supported with the squat bar on the bed or using a birth stool) hands and knees. Be in a spot that’s most comfortable to you! (face the baby coming out, be up near the birthing persons face/over their shoulder, etc) Assist in preparing for skin to skin. Prepare for the immediate choices/options (touching the baby as it’s guided out, announcing the sex of the baby, cutting of the cord) 

†ɧ𝓮 g○Ⅼ𝓭𝓮ր ɧ○𝚞𝖗

The stage of labour immediately following the birth of the baby. Sometimes known as ‘the golden hour’.

What to expect: 
Skin to skin (baby commonly gets wiped with a towel)
Newborn checks (happening multiple times  throughout this time period)
Delayed cord clamping Cutting of the umbilical cord
Placenta emerging (then examined by the medical professional) 
Uterus ‘massage’
Vaginal repairs (if needed)
Baby’s first latch at the breast 
Monitoring of the birthing person (temperature, blood pressure, check bleeding, get cleaned up) 
Transfer from labour and delivery to recover (to a hospital room or settling in at home)

𝐩𝐚𝒓ȶת𝓮𝒓 ⏉エ𝐩𝙎: It is good to have an idea of what to expect! (The time can go by so fast and surreal) Discuss ahead of time who is going to cut the cord, if you also want some skin to skin time, if you will follow the baby if taken to the warmer/scale, etc. (But know it’s ok if your initial thoughts/plans change in the moment)

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