When you’re getting closer to delivering your first child, it can be hard to get a lot of information about what labor and delivery are really like. Yes, you’ve seen the movies and read the online stories, but you want to know what happens in reality.
Your body goes through three stages of labor. Stage one is when your body prepares for birth – contractions begin. Stage two is delivery of the baby – contractions intensify and your baby arrives. Stage three is delivery of the placenta (afterbirth). Each of these stages is different in its pain level and length.
Here at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills, we support women in South Bay, Redondo Beach, and Beverly Hills, California throughout their pregnancies and labor. Every pregnancy, labor, and delivery is different, but we want you to feel prepared.
Here are some facts about what you can experience during labor and delivery.
Pushing a large baby out of your vagina is not pleasant. The contractions that gradually intensify during labor can be incredibly intense and downright excruciating. In the first stage of labor, they begin at a relatively manageable intensity and are spaced far apart.
But, as you get closer to delivery, the contractions intensify and cause serious pain in your lower back and lower abdomen. Contractions continue for a short time even after the baby is born; they help you deliver the placenta.
Of course, every woman’s experience is different but be prepared for the long haul. For a first-time mom, the labor process can be as long as 12-19 hours. The first stage of labor usually lasts about 6-12 hours. You feel mild contractions that last 60-90 seconds and occur every 5-15 minutes.
Active labor – the second stage – lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. It starts when you have regular contractions and a six-centimeter dilation to your cervix. During this second stage, you deliver the baby. The second stage of labor is the most intense, as your baby enters the world!
The final stage of labor lasts just 20 minutes. As you deliver the placenta, contractions continue but are less intense than before.
During the second stage of labor, some women experience damage to the perineum – the area between the anus and vulva. As the baby pushes through, it’s possible to experience tearing of the soft tissue. Proper lubrication and strategic pushing can help you avoid this effect. We repair any tearing once your baby is born to help you heal.
As the baby descends, there’s pressure everywhere, including on your colon and anus. It feels like you’re going to poop, and if you have stool in your colon or rectum, it can be squeezed out when the baby’s head comes through.
Whether or not you use an epidural during labor is completely up to you. The epidural is pain medication delivered through a tube in your lower back that numbs sensation in the lower body so contractions and delivery are less intense. We support your decision and your birthing plan when it comes to an epidural. We also support your right to change your mind.
Labor is the culmination of nine months of pregnancy, but it’s also the beginning of a new family story. The OB/GYN team at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills wants you to embrace the experience and do everything to offer compassion, medical support, and guidance.