The first stage of labor is a time when your body will be preparing for giving birth with signs such as water breaking, starting contractions, a ‘show’, and so on. It is the longest stage involving 3 phases. They are early labor, active labor phase, and transition phase. In each phase, you will experience different physical and emotional changes.
Early Phase of Labor
The early phase of labor is the first phase of labor in the first stage of labor, which you can call the onset of the beginning of labor until your cervix becomes wider. A larger, or more open to 3 to 6 centimeters. When you experience early labor, you do not need to rush to the hospital or the birthing center. Just relax at home and do some simple and routine activities. Keep drinking plenty of water and having snacks and yourself busy, conserving your energy. Keep track of the time of your contractions, and if your contraction begins during the night, try to sleep earlier. And if you have a problem sleeping early, do some small activities like your favorite cooking, sorting, or cleaning before that time.
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Active Labor Phase
When you experience labor, the active labor phase is the second phase of the first stage of labor. This continues from 3 centimeters until your cervix becomes wider, larger, or more open to 3 to 6 centimeters. Now, you are to go to the hospital or the birthing center. Your contractions will be longer, stronger, and closer. Try to have support. If you can, relax and apply breathing techniques between your contractions. Switching positions frequently, drinking plenty of water, and urinating periodically. Trying to walk and taking a warm bath will be very good for you during this phase.
Active labor can last for 3 to 5 hours, but if it is your first baby, or if you have an epidural. You may take more time. Your cervix will dilate from 4 centimeters to 7 centimeters, contractions lasting about 45 seconds to 60 seconds with 3 to 5 minutes. The rest in between will feel longer and stronger to you. For mamma surrogata or surrogate mothers, these stages are the same as an ordinary mother.
The transition phase is the third phase of the first stage of labor, which continues from 7 centimeters until your cervix becomes entirely wider, and larger. The more open to 10 centimeters. This is the most challenging phase when you will heavily rely upon your support person. Try to do one contraction at a time, though it is very hard if your contractions are closer. Think how far you have come, and when you feel an urge to push, tell your health care provider about it. The transition may last for half an hour to two hours and your cervix will completely become wider, larger, or more open from 8 to 10 centimeters. This is the hardest but shortest phase.
Contractions during this phase will last from 60 to 90 seconds, with 30 seconds to 2 minutes in between that are long, strong, intense, and overlapping. You might experience white flashes, chills, gas, nausea, or vomiting. In case your baby descends earlier, you may feel the urge to push without feeling dilation. On the other hand, if your baby reaches later, you will reach complete dilation without feeling pressure or the urge to push.
Regular contraction or Braxton Hicks contraction, a ‘show’, your waters breaking, dilation, fetal heart monitoring, fetal heart monitoring, speeding up labor, pain relief etcetera are all the essential activities during your first stage of labor. Take advice from your midwife or doctor from the very beginning, and follow their tips sincerely to have a safe first stage of labor.