Labour is defined as “the period of increased physical work a woman’s body performs on the final day of her pregnancy” (WHTA, 2013). I am sure a lot of women would agree that there is an increased period of physical work whilst in labour (obviously!) but all women have different experiences. It can be an exciting although slightly scary thought to think of what your experience might be like. However, understanding a little about the stages of labour may help to better mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come. At the end of the day (or days) you will have a gorgeous little bundle of joy to cuddle making it all worthwhile.
There are Three Stages of Labour:
Stage 1 includes the first 90% of labour (the long phase!). It is where the woman’s body prepares to give birth to her baby. Contractions of the muscle of the uterus cause the cervix to gradually be pulled open to 10cm dilated. During this stage, the contractions the woman is experiencing gradually become longer, stronger and closer together. In this stage, the woman is encouraged to remain upright or lean forward.
Stage 2 is the next 8% of labour. The woman gives birth to her baby. This stage is known as the ‘pushing stage’. The woman is still having contractions to enable the baby to be pushed down into the vagina. The baby will then be pushed down far enough to be able to see the baby from the outside of the vagina. This is known as ‘crowning’. The remainder of this stage concludes with the birth of the baby. In this stage the woman is encouraged to be in either a squat position or an upright posture to allow ‘opening’ of the pelvis and working with gravity and decrease the need for instrumental delivery.
Stage 3 is the last 2% of labour when the woman ‘births’ the placenta and amniotic sac. This stage is hardly talked about so sometimes can be a bit of a shock to some women.
If you have any questions about your pre- or post-natal care then come and see Bonnie, our Women’s Health Physiotherapist at Bend + Mend Physiotherapy in Sydney’s CBD.