Labor and Delivery
Childbirth Process: Phases of Labor
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The first phase during delivery is initiated when contractions begin. If this is your first child, you will begin dilatation after the cervix becomes effaced or thins out. Contractions are present every 20 to 30 minutes and last 15 to 20 seconds each. This process takes about 6 to 8 hours. In first time moms the whole delivery process may last 8 to 12 hours. If a woman has already had a baby the delivery process is shorter; Approximately 4 to 6 hours.
Once the cervix has effaced, contractions will intensify in order to allow the uterus to reach an "opening" of 10 cm. This process is called "dilation". Dilation is broken into two phases:
First: Cervix dilates from 0 to 8 centimeters.
Second: Cervix reaches it's goal of 10 centimeters.
At the beginning of the first phase, you will feel soft contractions every 10 to 15 minutes. Each one will last about 20 seconds. At this moment, the opening of your cervix should be around 2 centimeters. Progressively, contractions are going to increase in frequency as well as duration. When you feel your contractions every 5 minutes and they last 30 to 40 seconds, your cervix will estimate 4 to 5 centimeters dilation.
As time goes on, contractions get stronger every 3 or 4 minutes and last close to 45 seconds each. At this moment your cervix is 6 centimeters dilated. When you feel your contractions every 2 or 3 minutes lasting approximately 50 seconds, your cervix should be 8 centimeters dilated.
Transition is the phase in which contractions occur every 1 to 2 minutes and last one minute; You are about to reach 10 centimeters of dilation. At this moment you will have a short time to recover between one contraction and the other. You will also feel swelling around your vagina and the urge to push. However, it is important not to respond to this urge until the doctor approves.
Once you have reached 10 cm. dilation, expulsion period begins. You will feel that contractions are less frequent, every 2 to 3 minutes. This is the moment the doctor will request that you push.
During this period, the baby's head penetrates the delivery canal and goes down to the perineo making an internal rotation. The doctor waits until he/she sees 3 or 4 centimeters of the baby's head. The next contraction will occur and the decision will be made if an episiotomy must be done in order to facilitate the exit of your child.
Once the head is shown (complete coronation) the doctor will tell you to push to help the baby during the final process. First the head exits and in another push the doctor will help the baby remove a shoulder, then the other, and finally the remainder of the infant.
Your child is born!!
Visualizations and delivery
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