What to Expect Before and During Labor
Before LaborIs it Time? Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go. You’re feeling contractions. Still, true labor may not have yet begun. Sometimes, trying to tell the difference between true and false labor can be difficult, even downright discouraging, and every women’s experience is different. Be patient, and know the signs of true labor. These include:
There are three stages of labor. The first begins with the onset of contractions and ends when the cervix is dilated to 10 centimeters. The second stage involves delivering the baby and the third stage involves delivery of the placenta and membranes, or "afterbirth".
Ready, Set, Not YetThese last weeks of pregnancy sometimes seem to go on forever. Contractions may get stronger at times and make you wonder if this could be it. Sometimes it is frustrating to come to the hospital with these labor pains, only to be sent home with your baby still inside rather than in your arms. True labor contractions will cause changes in your cervix. Contractions may stop or your labor may be in its early stages. This pre-labor period is helping the body get ready for the big day, but not yet. We recommend that this early pre-labor period is best spent in places you find comfortable. In the mean time, if you are finding it difficult to concentrate on anything but the birth of your baby, here are some tips to help keep you comfortable through the hours, days or weeks while you are waiting.
If labor has stopped or slowed down…
During LaborThe length of labor is different for every woman. In general, a woman’s first childbirth will be her longest. After the first baby, labor is usually shorter. About half of women will have a labor that lasts at least 12 hours. Here are some ways to cope with labor as contractions get stronger: Coping with Labor As contractions get stronger you may need added ways to cope with labor: MemorialCare supports both Lamaze and medicated deliveries. If you choose epidural pain relief during labor and delivery or require a cesarean section, our anesthesiologists are on staff and in the hospitals at all times to provide quality care.
For more information about the stages of labor and what to expect, sign up to attend an educational class.