Childbirth is the completion of the process of gestation of a human pregnancy, which results in the delivery of the newborn baby from the uterus of a woman. There are 3 stages of labor in the process of childbirth. They are:
Stage One: Contractions
This is the stage where labor contractions occur. The time duration for this stage may vary from individual to individual. The long muscles of the uterus contract from the top to the bottom and then they relax. This process helps draw the cervix over the baby's head and is called 'dilation of the cervix'.
This stage is divided into three phases: latent, active, and transition. In the latent phase, the cervix dilates up to 3 cm. At this point the contractions are 30 to 45 seconds long and repeat after every 5 to 20 minutes. Next, in the active phase the cervix dilates from 4 to 7 cm. At this point the contractions last for 45 to 60 seconds and repeat every 5 to 2 minutes. There may also be some backache and bleeding in this phase. In the last transition phase, the cervix dilates up to 8 to 10 cm. The contractions last for 60 to 120 seconds and repeat every 30 to 90 seconds.
Stage Two: Labor and Delivery
In this stage of labor, the baby is pushed out of the uterus into the birth canal. The urge to push is quite uncontrollable at this stage and the doctor will advise the mother when to begin pushing. The contractions in this stage last for 50 to 90 seconds and repeat after every 2 to 5 minutes. There may also be extreme rectal and back pressure. When the head of the baby is seen at the beginning of the vagina, it is often accompanied by a burning sensation. Sometimes, the opening of the vagina may also be cut in order to facilitate this movement.
The baby is often born head-first. But there are cases where the baby moves feet-first or sideways. Sometimes, the baby is 'breech' where the buttocks come out first. It is therefore very essential to understand the position of the baby during this stage. Midwives are often able to help with complicated birth procedures if one is opting for a natural childbirth. However, a caesarian procedure may become necessary if complications occur. As soon as the baby comes out of the birth canal completely, it adjusts to breathe outside. The umbilical cord is clamped and cut at this stage, and the baby is often bathed with lukewarm water.
Stage Three: Placenta Delivery
In this stage, the baby has come out completely. However, the contractions may continue for a while so that the placenta detaches from the uterus and is pushed out of the body. This can often be a natural process, or the placenta can be pulled out of the body as well. This may also be accompanied by loss of blood.
If someone else is pulling the placenta out, then that person has to be extremely careful while doing so. If the placenta is pulled too hard or incorrectly, then it may tear and come out incompletely. This can lead to post-partum bleeding or even an infection. Thus, it is absolutely necessary to examine the placenta once it is removed.
Often breastfeeding the baby immediately after the delivery can also induce the delivery of the placenta.