What are the stages of childbirth?

Childbirth goes through a series of phases that, although each woman experiences them differently, lead to the birth of the baby and, therefore, its physical contact with the mother and the environment. Therefore, it is convenient to identify them in order to know what happens in that disturbing moment, but at the same time special.


You can generally associate labor with the breaking of the water, the onset of contractions and the birth of the baby. However, this natural process usually begins long before the estimated date and ends with the expulsion of the placenta.

As the birth of your child approaches, a series of doubts could invade you about how you want to end your pregnancy. You should know that three types of deliveries are currently handled: natural, vaginal and abdominal (cesarean section); of which natural childbirth is the least invasive and avoids the use of clinical procedures and medications as much as possible.

Likewise, you may be concerned about knowing how long a birth lasts, which is difficult to establish, since each woman experiences this process differently, even more so if she has already had a previous birth. What we can tell you is that its duration will be influenced by both the position of your baby and your emotional state at that time. But, on average it usually lasts around 15 to 18 hours.

In this sense, whether it is one or the other, it is an experience worth living, unless for medical reasons you must opt ​​for an abdominal delivery .

Now, regardless of your choice, it is convenient for you to know what happens in each of the five stages that comprise the birth .

  1. Early dilatation phase

Also known as latent or passive dilatation . It basically consists of the beginning of the opening of the cervix. This period is generally excluded from labor, since it is not defined exactly when it takes place. Also, as is common in most pregnant women, you may not even notice it. However, it can be appreciated through a vaginal examination by your trusted medical specialist.

This stage is characterized by the effacement of the cervix up to three centimeters and its insignificant contractions. During this long phase you may perceive pelvic and back pain, as well as diarrhea and indigestion, among other symptoms, and once you notice the expulsion of the mucous plug and the appearance of the first noticeable labor contractions, it is an indication that your wait has arrived. to its end.


  1. Active dilatation phase

At this point labor dilation occurs. That is, the cervix of your uterus dilates completely from 3 centimeters to 10 centimeters; thus preparing the birth canal for the exit of your baby. It is in turn consists of an acceleration stage and transition dilation or advanced active dilation.

Initially, you will be able to perceive contractions every 10 minutes, but as time goes by, they become more painful and frequent, since the centimeters achieved in the early dilation phase go from 5 or 6 centimeters in an accelerated way. At this point, labor itself begins.

For its part, in advanced active dilation you will be able to appreciate the contractions every 3 minutes. You will also feel the urge to push, as a result of the pressure you will experience in the lower back. This is primarily because your baby’s head will begin its descent through your pelvis.


  1. expulsion phase

It is the most important phase and the one of greatest care, because of the correct follow-up that you make of the indications of the medical professional in charge, the process will take place as much as possible in the most controlled and natural way. This is not only to make it easier for your baby to come out, but also to prevent you from suffering unnecessary perineal tears or prolonging the delivery time.

At this time, anxiety and fatigue may make it difficult for you to perceive that the contractions and the desire to push are becoming more regular. In this phase, once your baby positions his head, he begins his descent through the pelvis and your perineal muscles relax to facilitate his expulsion.

  1. delivery phase

This phase involves the emptying of the uterus. That is, the expulsion of the placenta and the membranes that surround your baby during pregnancy. You should know in advance that, at this point, despite having the newborn in your arms, you will continue to have slight contractions accompanied by small pushes.

On the other hand, despite the completion of this process, the uterus will continue to contract in order to return to its size. You may also experience some physiological impulses or reactions such as thirst, hunger, tremors and chills. As well as a mix of emotions ranging from relaxation to impatience.


  1. immediate puerperium

After birth, your body naturally begins to gradually release oxytocin among other hormones. But this in particular will be responsible for causing a type of uterine contractions that will stimulate the rise of milk .

In the same way, it will promote, through the olfactory perception of the new baby, the establishment of breastfeeding and, therefore, the bond (affective imprint) between the two. Reason why it is said that the immediate postpartum or puerperium is a more sensitive period. Therefore, in these first hours you should stay relaxed.

Once the phases that involve childbirth are known, it is appropriate to comment that with the proper practice of some relaxation techniques and prior knowledge of what labor contractions are like, you will be able to calmly carry out this complex, but emotional process.

In another order of ideas, if in the weeks prior to childbirth you have presented significant back pain, you could reduce this discomfort with the help of a pregnancy belt (if you click here, you have several purchase options).

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