From signs of labor to coping with early labor, here are tips for the first stage of labor.
There are three stages of labor: First stage, second stage and third stage. The American Pregnancy Association defines the first stage of labor as the onset of true labor until the cervix is completely dilated to 10 centimeters.
The first stage of labor also has its own phases: Early labor, active labor and transition phase.
False labor, also known as Braxton Hicks, aren't false at all — they are in fact signs that your body is getting ready for labor. However, here are some signs of labor that signal you're closer to heading off to the labor and delivery room:
The most important thing you can do during the first phase of early labor is to relax. Your physician will often encourage you to ride out this phase of labor in the comfort of your own home. "I spent my early labor in bed watching Ken Burns Jazz documentaries and taking warm showers at home," shares Latham Thomas, Tender Shoots Wellness. "It was so relaxing and comfortable." During early labor, you should:
In the active labor phase of the first stages of labor, your contractions will occur more frequently, last longer and become more intense. To get you through the second phase of early labor:
During this toughest, yet shortest, phase of labor, contractions will occur quickly, leaving little time between to rest. Continuing to use your relaxation techniques while you experience one, or many, of the following signs you're in transition:
Once you feel the urge to push, notify the nurse, but don't push until you're instructed to do so. According to the Mayo Clinic, pushing too soon could cause your cervix to tear or swell, which can cause bleeding or delay delivery.
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Once your cervix has dilated to 10 centimeters, you've made it through your first of three stages of labor! Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you'll soon begin the second stage of labor and push, which is like nearing the finish line in this long marathon called labor and delivery. So hang in there — with a little luck, the moment you've been waiting for is only a few pushes away!
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