Labour is classified in to 3 stages.
First Stage –
This is when contractions occur that will gradually dilate your cervix. The early stage is when your cervix starts to dilate and a mucus plug which has been in the cervical canal comes out. This is called a show. Contractions at this point in time might be very mild and you may have dilated a few centimeters before you even know that you are in labour.
The contractions do however become more sustained and painful and you will progress to the active stage when your cervix will open up from about 3cm to full dilation at 10cm.
When you are near full dilation, there will be a transitional period where you move on to the second stage of labour which involves actively pushing your baby out into this world.
Second Stage –
During the second stage, you will have the urge to bear down and push your baby out. If you do not have an epidural, you will be able to feel the pressure of your baby’s head between your legs and with the help from your partner, midwife and doctor, be encouraged to give 2 – 3 strong pushes during each contraction.
The duration of the second stage varies but is generally shorter if this is not your first child.
Third Stage –
Once baby is out, the third stage begins. Your contractions will subside and be weaker and the placenta or afterbirth will be delivered. It is routine in many hospitals now to give you an injection to help your uterus contract and your placenta to come out. Your doctor will make sure that the placenta and membranes is complete and nothing has been left behind.
By Dr Claudine Tan, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at SBCC Women’s Clinic-