Labor and delivery classes are key to a fearless birth experience. In this video midwife, Holliday Tyson teaches expecting parents the finer points of labor and delivery, as well as some highlights of midwifery.
This is part two of a three-part Prenatal Classes series by midwife Holliday Tyson. Click here to see her Prenatal Classes: Part One video.
This Labor and Delivery Prenatal Class is Part 2 of the video series and discusses what to expect from your body, as well as how to deal with the stages of labor.
The Three Stages of Labor
Labor is divided into 3 main phases:
- Early Labor
- Active Labor
- Transition Phase
The first stage of labor is referred to as Latent/Prodromal/Early. These stages of labor help to get the cervix ready for labor. This stage can take place over the course of days and includes erratic contractions, which can range from mild to painful. The early-stage normally dilates the cervix from around 2 to 4 cm.
Active Labor takes the cervix from 4 to 7 cm. The head of the baby can start to descend easily once the cervix is properly dilated. The active labor stage normally lasts from 40 to 90 minutes depending on how many children the mother has had already, in conjunction with other factors.
An epidural can add, on average, 1 hour to the active labor process. It is important to remember that the pelvis shape can determine the length of time it takes to deliver a baby.
This stage of labor will take the cervix from 7 cm to 10 cm. It can last anywhere from half an hour to 2 hours long. The transition phase is considered the hardest but the shortest stage. The contractions will be intense, long and may overlap the help of a partner or doula is greatly needed during this stage.
Previously, the progress of labor was gauged by Friedman’s curve, which stated that there was slow progress at 3 to 4cm, and then steps up to around 1cm per hour until dilated. This theory has been discredited and now we realize that active labor starts around 5 to 6 cm and can rapidly progress from there until delivery.
Ready For Labor and Delivery
One sure sign of impending labor is the water, or amnionic fluid, breaking. Once the water breaks you are committed to labor and can expect to deliver in 24 to 48 hours. The medical staff will want to test the water to make sure it is not unhealthy. Unless you have polyhydramnios, your water breaking means the baby is coming soon.
The Many Forms Of Labor Pain Relief
Labor pain relief can consist of an epidural, hydrotherapy, narcotics, and breathing techniques. When it comes to active labor, the best course of action is to change positions frequently to help relieve discomfort and to keep the baby buffered with amniotic fluid.
Having a partner or friend to help with some pain relief exercises can be incredibly beneficial. One of the primary exercises discussed in the birth and delivery classes includes having a partner lift the belly up and then doing a penguin waddle.
What Happens After Birth
After the baby is born, the delivery of the placenta occurs. The placenta usually takes around 8 minutes to be delivered. It is best to leave the baby attached to the placenta so they can get the blood they need.
Why Take Labor and Delivery Prenatal Classes?
Prenatal classes help you know what to expect and teach you ways to deal with the pain. Having a midwife as well as a doula can make the experience of labor to birth more productive and comfortable. Soak up as much information as possible. Discover practical and effective techniques to help the process. Expecting parents will gain the information and methods needed to assist them in the labor and birth process.