Preparing for Childbirth

Positions that help you be more comfy and reduce pain in the first stage of labor include standing, walking, sitting or squatting, and laying on either your left or right side. For the safety of you and baby, it's recommended that you avoid lying on your back for prolonged periods of time during labor. When your uterine contractions become very strong or you have been given pain medication, you will probably be asked to remain in bed to avoid injury.

As you complete labor and prepare for birth, your cervix is dilated from 7 or 8 centimeters to 10 centimeters. It becomes even more important for you to focus on relaxing; tensing up and fighting each contraction will only slow labor and exhaust you. However, you may feel the urge to push. Tell your doctors and nurses if you feel this urge. It's very important to resist the urge to push until your cervix is completely dilated and the doctors and nurses have instructed you to do so.

The Second Stage

Also called the "pushing stage," this period starts when your cervix is 10 centimeters dilated and ends with the delivery of your baby. If this is your first baby, this stage may last about one to two hours. If you have previously given birth, it may last 15 to 60 minutes. The pushing stage is the most exhausting and demanding part of labor, but it is also an exciting time, with lots of cheering and praise for your efforts.

There are many positions for pushing -- decide which will work best for you. You may use several different positions during the pushing phase. Whatever position helps you feel the most comfortable is most likely the one you should use.

You will be directed to push with each contraction in order to move the bay down and out the birth canal. An episiotomy, if necessary, is usually done at this time. This incision is made into the area between your vagina and rectum (perineum). It enlarges the vaginal opening and protects the surrounding area from tearing.

As your baby's head is being delivered, you may be asked to stop pushing so that excess mucus can be suctioned from the baby's nose and mouth. This is an exciting and intense time. You know that the baby is almost here and may be tempted to push as hard as you can to get the baby out quickly. It's important not to push hard at this time because a sudden push could make the baby come out too quickly and could damage your perineum. Wait until our doctors and nurses instruct you to push again, and then let your uterus do most of the work. This will allow our doctors and nurses to safely deliver your baby. Babies usually begin to cry on their own, and you can now see and perhaps hold your baby.

The Third Stage

This stage begins after the delivery of your baby and ends with the delivery of the placenta, which usually occurs within 5 to 30 minutes. You'll continue to have mild contractions during this time and you might be asked to push to assist in the delivery of the placenta. Your chosen healthcare providers will examine you and the placenta to make sure the entire placenta is delivered. After the delivery of the placenta, the episiotomy or tear will be repaired if necessary.

The Fourth Stage

This is the 1 to 4 hour period of time after delivery of the placenta. During this stage, the mother's body stabilizes. Your pulse, blood pressure and respiratory rate will be taken frequently. Your vaginal area will be checked for bleeding. A nurse may massage your uterus or instruct you to do so. This helps the uterus to contract and will help to reduce blood loss. After the excitement and the work of the delivery is done, you may feel tired, thirsty, and even hungry. Now is the time to relax and take pride in your amazing accomplishment.