Childbirth is a natural process that typically follows three stages. It is important to remember that every woman’s labor is different and you will not know how yours will progress ahead of time.
You can prepare for birth by learning the three stages of labor so you and your partner know what to expect at each stage and how to maintain comfort throughout labor. To prepare yourself for labor learn, read and ask questions.
- Read about pregnancy, labor and newborn care
- Attend childbirth education classes
- Ask questions in class and during doctor appointments
- Read information on labor and birth
- Complete and review a birth plan with your provider
If you have any questions regarding your appointments, please feel free to call at (406) 883-5680.
Three Stages of Labor
Stage 1: This is the longest stage of labor and is divided into two phases, early and active labor. Your cervix dilates (opens) and thins (effaces) to allow the baby to move into the birth canal. If you are experiencing the first signs of labor, call the hospital if the following occur:
- If your water breaks.
- If you are a first-time mom and contractions are in five-minute intervals or less (requiring total concentration) and you cannot walk or talk through the intervals.
- If you have had a baby before and contractions are "feeling like labor." This labor may progress much faster than your previous labor.
Stage 2: You will give birth to your baby during the second stage. You will need to push during contractions, concentrating on pushing with your abdomen and not straining your face. You can push in many different positions – so move and adjust to feel comfortable. The baby’s head should come out first, allowing your provider to clear the airway and adjust the umbilical cord. The baby’s body will soon follow.
Stage 3: Your baby has been born! The baby will likely be placed in your arms to hold and try breast feeding. The final stage of birth is delivering the placenta. The final stage takes between 10 and 30 minutes. During this time you will have mild contractions and your provider may massage your lower abdomen to contract and push out the placenta. It is normal if the placenta comes out with a small gush of blood. It is important to deliver the entire placenta. If it is not intact all remains must be removed to avoid infection.