Blog Series: What the heck happens during Early Labor?


The processes your body goes through when in labor are incredible. There are so many changes occurring that sync up just right so you can finally give birth to your baby. There are 3 distinct stages of labor. The first stage begins when labor begins, and ends when your cervix is dilated to 10 cm.  

This blog series will cover all stages of labor to give you a some background of the amazing things your body can do.

Since birth is so complex, The First stage of labor  can be further broken down.

Early Labor (The first phase, of the first stage of labor)

This phase begins when your contractions become more regular and cervical change is starting, and ends when your cervix is dilated, or opened, to about 4-6 cm and labor begins speeding up.

What’s happening?

  • Your cervix will start softening, thinning, and opening.
  • Your cervix itself will start changing direction, it will begin to shift to an anterior position versus a posterior position.  

What to expect:

  • Contractions lasting about 30-60 seconds.
    • You can start timing them during this phase however they may be irregular.
  • You may lose your mucus plug.
  • Your stool will become loose.

How to cope/ What to do:

  • You may feel like walking to speed up the process, take a brief walk then rest.
  • Rest and relaxation are important to conserve your energy, stay hydrated and feel free to eat when you are hungry.
  • This is the beginning of a big change, you may want to consider spending some time with your partner, friends, family. Feel free to go to dinner or a movie to try and “ignore” these signs.
  • You may need more emotional support during this phase.


Photo: Strong & Still by Alisha Vernon


Future Stages:

2. Active Labor

3. Transitional Labor

4. Pushing Stage of Labor

5. Placental Stage of Labor


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