The Stages of Labour (& What To Do!)

1) EARLY LABOUR

๐—ช๐ก๐š๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐œ๐ž๐ซ๐ฏ๐ข๐ฑ ๐ฎ๐ฉ ๐ญ๐จ?โฃ In early labour, your cervix is dilating from 0-3cm. Did you know, itโ€™s actually possible to dilate to 3cm without having any contractions at all?! Itโ€™s likely that your cervix is still quite long at this point but it will start to get shorter and shorter as labour progresses. (๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด โ€œ๐˜ฆ๐˜ง๐˜ง๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ตโ€ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜น ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฒ๐˜ถ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ!) โฃ โฃ

๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐“๐ข๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ :โฃ For most people, youโ€™ll feel a tightening or crampy feeling in your lower abdomen every 6-20 min. That feeling will linger for 15-30 seconds or so but not quite reach a minute long. Unfortunately, ๐ข๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฎ๐ง๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐จ๐ง ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ฅ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ซ๐ญ & ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ฉ ๐๐ฎ๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ ๐ž. Look for patterns that stay consistent for 1-2 hours before getting too excited!โฃ โฃ ๐—ช๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐จ๐ž๐ฌ early labour ๐ฅ๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž? โฃ In early labour, it is very likely you will be aware that your contractions are happening but also able to distract yourself through them. Thatโ€™s right, you could (and should) carry on with your normal day-to-day activities during this stage. ๐๐‘๐Ž ๐“๐ˆ๐: the labouring person will be able to both walk & talk through these contractions. I always suggest finding a balance between ๐˜™๐˜Œ๐˜š๐˜›, ๐˜”๐˜–๐˜๐˜Œ๐˜”๐˜Œ๐˜•๐˜›, ๐˜ˆ๐˜•๐˜‹ ๐˜•๐˜œ๐˜›๐˜™๐˜๐˜›๐˜๐˜–๐˜•. โฃ

๐Ž๐ฑ๐ฒ๐ญ๐จ๐œ๐ข๐ง: โฃ In order for labour to progress, we need oxytocin to flow naturally throughout our body. That means we need to feel good, safe, supported, happy & loved. Try spending time in your babyโ€™s nursery or eat some delicious food with your partner. Oxytocin also flows when we move our bodies, have sex (nipple stimulation would also give the same affect) and feel relaxed! I always suggest finding a healthy balance between ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ (head outside for a nice walk), ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ (take a nap or watch some Netflix) and ๐ง๐ฎ๐ญ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง (eat food that is packed full of energy!) โฃ

๐Œ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฅ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ:โฃ โฃ Two of my favourite movements for early labour are the pelvic tilt & curb walking. Both of these exercises will help baby move further into the birth canal and engage on the cervix! Donโ€™t forget that ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด before progressing to ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฅ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ.

๐€๐‚๐“๐ˆ๐•๐„ ๐‹๐€๐๐Ž๐”๐‘: โฃ โฃ ๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ตโ€™๐˜ด ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜น ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ? โฃ In active labour your cervix is dilating from 4-6 cm. It is likely that your cervix has started to โ€œeffaceโ€ at this point. For some people, when you are 100% effaced, dilation tends to speed up. Try not to focus so much on how far dilated you are, your body is doing AMAZING things that take time & patience. โฃ โฃ ๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ:โฃโฃ Your contractions are somewhere between 2-5 mins apart. (Quite the jump right?) They are also quite a bit longer, reaching a full 60 seconds from start to finish. Some people experience contractions that seem to be right on top of each other but not lasting 1 min long. This is normal, but tells us that youโ€™re not quite in active labour yet. Follow the 5-1-1 rule before you head to your birth place! โฃ โฃ โœจ๐Ÿ“-๐Ÿ-๐Ÿโœจโฃ = ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐Ÿ“ ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ฌ ๐š๐ฉ๐š๐ซ๐ญ - ๐Ÿ ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง ๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐  - ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฉ๐š๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ง ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ฒ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฌ๐š๐ฆ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐€๐“ ๐‹๐„๐€๐’๐“ ๐Ÿ ๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ (๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ž ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐Ÿ!) โฃ โฃ ๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด active labour l๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ? โฃ โฃ As a support person, youโ€™ll notice that these contractions ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ different. Before, the labouring person could walk & talk through the contractions, but now they canโ€™t. You may see them bracing themselves on an object or person as they work through the wave. You may also notice them intentionally breathing & swaying to help manage the intensity. Oddly enough, when the contraction ends, they may act like nothing was happening. Conversations continue & walking starts back up again! โฃ โฃ ๐๐‘๐Ž ๐“๐ˆ๐: ๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐œ๐ก ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฆ๐จ๐จ๐. Be focused and present during contractions & carry on conversations when they end.

๐๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ฅ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ! โฃ โฃ The most effective positions in active labour will create ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ญ, ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ด๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ด. The movement that I generally recommend is an ๐ž๐ฅ๐ž๐ฏ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐ž. โฃ โฃ ๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ: place a stool or chair beside your left leg (think 10 oโ€™clock) โฃ โฃ ๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ: place your left leg on the stool and slowly rock towards that foot โฃ โฃ ๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ‘: when the contraction ends, lower your foot and rest. Stay on this side for 3 contractions or 10 mins โฃ โฃ ๐’๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ ๐Ÿ’: repeat on the other side โฃ โฃ

This movement will help create space in the ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต part of your pelvis, allowing your baby to move further into the birth canal and complete the dilation process. Be prepared for intense contractions by having a great support team around you!

TRANSITIONAL LABOUR: โฃ Transitional labour is the final & most intense stage of labour. During this stage you will require all of your support, pulling out all the stops to help you work through those contractions. It is also the shortest stage of labour with contractions coming every 2-3 mins and lasting at least 1 min long.โฃ โฃ ๐—ช๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐œ๐ž๐ซ๐ฏ๐ข๐ฑ ๐ฎ๐ฉ ๐ญ๐จ?โฃ Is this stage, your cervix is dilating from 7-10cm. Itโ€™s very likely the effacement or thinning of the cervix is complete or well on its way. We know that for some people, once the cervix is 100% effaced, changes to cervical dilation can happen quickly. โฃ โฃ ๐—ช๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ˆ ๐›๐ž ๐๐จ๐ข๐ง๐ ?โฃ Although contractions are 2-3 mins apart, it may feel like that arenโ€™t completely going away. For partners: you may need to take a more directive approach to your coaching and supporting. Things like, โ€œtake a long, slow breath for your baby,โ€ would be helpful. As well as, โ€œlet that one go, drop your shoulders.โ€ Eye contact, touching their hands and using a relaxing but firm voice will help in facilitating that. As the birthing person, it is likely that you have found a good rhythm, at this point. Most people will find themselves in a tub, shower or swaying back and forth to help work through these contractions. It isnโ€™t uncommon for people to lay down however, just listen to your body! In an ideal world, staying upright in transitional labour will help bring baby further down into the birth canal and finish the dilation process. โฃ โฃ ๐—ช๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ˆ ๐›๐ž ๐ฌ๐š๐ฒ๐ข๐ง๐ ?โฃ You probably wonโ€™t be communicating verbally at this point. I encourage partners to be more intuitive during this stage and avoid asking too many questions. Little interruptions can really throw off a personโ€™s focus and rhythm in transitional labour which we of course do not want to do. Your partner should expect: closed eyes, undirected movement such as swaying and low sounds or moans.

The 3rd & final stage of labour is โ€œtransitional labour.โ€ (Be sure to check out my previous posts to learn more about it). ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ฉ๐˜ต! โฃ โฃMovements for transitional labour!

โฃ โœจ ๐˜ด๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ: (imagine your middle school dance except your hands are on the bottom). โฃ โฃThis one is amazing for oxytocin flow ๐Ÿ˜‰ โฃ โฃ

โœจ ๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ฃ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ: submerging your belly in warm water actually has the ability to block pain receptors! This is a great place to be for the last & most intense portion of your labour โฃ โฃ โœจ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ: Itโ€™s likely you might be feeling very tired at this point. Using a birth ball will allow you to remain upright while still resting between contractions. (Depending on how low your baby is, this position might feel uncomfortable for you and thatโ€™s okay, switch it up)!

Looking to add a doula to your birth plan? I'd LOVE to connect with you virtually or in-person to see if I am the best fit for your team. Please don't hesitate to reach out HERE to schedule your free consultation.

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