I'm exactly 37 weeks now, (3weeks to go!) so I often read articles and search about stages of labor, I personally talk about it with my OB too and I'm so thankful that she's supporting me all the way.
First timers like me may take longer to labor of an average of 15 to more than 20 hours. Whew! While women who previously had vaginal birth takes at least 8 hours on the average. So, obviously, I need to endure 15hours or so.. I wonder what's my figure! My doctor, Dra. Moreno of Benguet Lab at SM Baguio explained to me that I need not to worry that much because she'll coach me how to push! >_< So I wont have to waste my energy and at the same time efficiently use it.. :)
She also wrapped up the stages of labor. Here's a view of what to expect when you're getting there.. hehe
Contractions: constant contractions that causes progressive dilation of the cervix, unlike the Braxton Hicks, these contractions are more frequent and quite painful. When the cervix is dilated next stage begins.
Early Labor: the effaced cervix thins out and opens, usually, pregnant sits out this stage until the cervix opens up to about 4 centimeters and the progress speeds up
Active labor: during this stage, contractions are more frequent, longer and stronger together where in the cervix dilates from 8 to 10 centimeters. Active labor is also called Transition which is the most intense part with an interval of two to three minutes. Oh wow!
Pushing Stage: the cervix finally is fully dilated and it's the start of the baby's birth. As it is called "pushing", it's the final descent of the baby that could last from few minutes to few hours. Another Oh wow! The rule is, if its you're first time, it'll take longer. The baby will advance until it "crowns", seeing the baby's head for the first time, then the head will turn as the shoulders rotate and exit. The doctor will coach to push, one at a time, to push the head, the shoulders and the rest of the body.
Delivery of Placenta: after pushing out the baby, the third stage begins, it's the delivery of the placenta. The contraction during this stage is relatively mild, my doc said I won't even mind it because my mind now focuses on the cry that I'll hear! OH WOW!
I'm nervous but at the same time, excited! :D My my hematologist assured me that my beta-thalassemia wont be a high risk for my delivery and my cardiologist (thank goodness!) approved that I can do the NSD (normal spontaneous delivery) because my heart fully recovered from my surgery four years ago, unless my reproductive can't or the baby is transverse. I know that I'll be exhausted physically but imagining myself seeing my baby for the first time really excites me! :D Still, I'm hoping for the best! :)