Blog Series: What the heck happens during Active Labor?

the-midwife-by-adrian-bakerActive Labor 

This is the second phase, of the first stage of labor. It begins when your cervix is dilated to about 4 cm and ends when your dilated to about 7 cm. 

“Birth is not only about making babies. It’s about making mothers- strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and believe in their inner strength.”  –Barbara Katz Rothman

What’s happening?

  • During this phase your cervix is going to dilate from about 4 cm to about 7cm.
  • Your contractions are more regular lasting about 60 seconds, and around 3-5 minutes apart. You will feel the contractions increasing in intensity.
    • At this point the 5-1-1 or 4-1-1 rule will definitely come into play, you may already be on your way to the hospital.
  • Your cervix is still softening, thinning, and dilating.

What to expect:

  • Due to the change in your hormone levels you may experience nausea, and get the chills, even though you are not actually cold.
  • Your legs may start to cramp up.
  • You may experience lower back pain.
  • Your care provider will do at least one vaginal exam and access your Bishop Score.

How to cope/ What to do:

  • Various comfort measures:
    • Massage
    • Counter pressure
    • Changing positions
    • Taking a shower or a bath
  • Allow yourself to relax during contractions
  • Stay hydrated.
  • You will start needing some additional emotional support as well as physical support.

For the birth partner:

  • Allow them to remain focused, no more than yes or no questions
  • Match their mood
  • Help with various comfort measures.
  • If you have a Doula you can help them provide comfort.

Photo: The Midwife by Adrian Baker


Previous Stages:

Future Stages:

1.Early Labor

3. Transitional Labor

     4. Pushing Stage of Labor

     5. Placental Stage of Labor

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