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STAGES OF NORMAL LABOUR
Written by : Dr.M.D.Mazumdar, MD
Normal Labour is a physiologic process during which the products of conception (ie, the fetus, membranes, umbilical cord, and placenta) are expelled outside of the uterus. Labour is said to be normal only when the fetus is mature and the process is spontaneous and uncomplicated.
Normal labour can vary from woman to woman and even between pregnancy to pregnancy in the same woman. It can last only a few short hours in some women. In others, especially in a woman in her first pregnancy, it can last for so long as to test her emotionally and physically.
The normal duration of active labor is 8-10 hours in the first pregnancy and 6-8 hours in later pregnancies.
Normal labor is divided into three stages:
STAGE I OF NORMAL LABOUR :
Stage I lasts from the onset of labour to full dilation of the cervix. In a woman in her first pregnancy, this stage lasts for about 10 to 12 hours. In a woman who has delivered earlier, it lasts from 6 to 8 hours.
The First Stage is again divided into three phases:
- Phase II:
This is a more active phase of labour. The cervix dilates from 4 cm to 8 cm during this phase.
The contractions are more painful , of longer duration and come more regularly. It is also called the 'middle phase ' of labour.
- Phase III:
During this phase, the cervix dilates from 8 cm to 10 cm . At 10 cms, the cervix is fully dilated and the baby's head can come out of the uterus safely and easily.
This phase is also called the 'transition phase' of labour since it marks the transition of the First stage of labour to the Second stage of labour.
Read more about the First Stage of Labour here...
STAGE II OF NORMAL LABOUR:
Stage II lasts from the full dilatation of the cervix to the expulsion of the baby. In a first pregnancy, it lasts for about 1- 2 hour, in subsequent pregnancies, it lasts for about ½ hour.
This stage (Second stage) is a stage when the baby's head is travelling down the vaginal canal to be delivered. The contractions are very painful and run into each other, appearing to produce almost continuous pain.
Read more about the Second Stage of Labour here...
STAGE III OF NORMAL LABOUR:
Stage III lasts from the birth of the baby to the expulsion of the placenta and the membranes. It lasts for about 15 - 20 minutes in both first and later pregnancies.
The third stage is comparatively less painful and is characterised by a gush of bleeding at the time the placenta separates from the uterus.
Read more about the Third Stage of Labour here...
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