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Monday, April 13, 2009

First Stage of Labor

12:59 PM

# This stage can be divided into the ready period, during which time the uterus dilates to 3 cm, and the active period, when regular contractions begin and the uterine cervix dilates completely to 10 cm. Usually, first-time mothers take 8 hours and experienced mothers take 5 hours, but it varies greatly from woman to woman.

# The latent phase

# The uterus opens to 3 cm after 5-6 hours of regular or effective contractions. The entrance to the vagina becomes soft and thin and prepares for birth.
# Weak contractions may be made stronger by an accelerant. Sometimes the mother's water is broken deliberately to speed up the process.
# The latent period may be long, but if the water has not broke, the baby's condition is normal with natural contractions, and there is no unusual response to facilitators (such as oxytocin), then the mother and baby are not at risk for complications. In many cases, the delivery process speeds up after a long ready period.

The active phase

# The uterus opens quickly to 7-8 cm and the baby descends into the pelvic area. This stage takes 2-3 hours.
# Pain will gradually become more intense after the ready period.

The complete dilatation phase

# This is the hour when the uterus opens completely to 10 cm.
# Towards the latter half of stage 1, the mother will feel pressure and an urge to push. Pushing is not useful until the uterus is completely open; premature pushing may actually exhaust the mother and be harmful to the baby.

Managing the pain

# Fear aggravates the pain of labor. It is important to read about pregnancy and understand the delivery process beforehand.
# Intense fear and worrying can interfere with contractions and the delivery process. This happens mostly during the end of the latent phase and the beginning of the active phase. In these cases, pain relievers and anesthetics can be administered.
# Using drugs and anesthetics during the latent phase may weaken contractions and delay the process. Try to bear the pain for as long as possible and use drugs and anesthesia only during the active phase.

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