Labour is extremely individual. Some women deliver very quickly, while others need more time. Many start with contractions, while others feel nothing until their water breaks.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect:
- You'll start having contractions. It's a good idea to time them, and call the doctor before heading to the hospital.
- You'll go to the hospital. Once there, you'll register or have a family member do it for you.
- You'll be taken to the labour and delivery area. Here you'll change into a gown, and fill out several of forms. You'll be asked about your contraction times, and if your water has broken. A nurse will check your pulse, blood pressure, urine and cervical dilation.
- You'll enter the first stage of labour (if you're not already there.) This stage takes the longest, an average of 6-12 hours depending on if you've had children before. In the early phase, your contractions may feel like aching, or pressure and fullness. Walking sometimes helps. In the active phase, contractions are more frequent and last longer. Anywhere from 2-5 minutes apart. Try rocking in a chair or taking a warm shower to help. In the transition phase, contractions are 2-3 minutes apart and last 60-90 seconds apiece. This is hard work, but it's over quickly. Remember those breathing techniques you learned in childbirth class.
- You'll enter the second stage of labour. This happens once you're fully dilated. When there's enough room for your baby to pass through your cervix, you'll be asked to push to help your baby move through the birth canal. This stage ends when the baby is out and the umbilical cord is cut.
- Your baby will arrive. Congratulations. You did it. Labour isn't completely over, but the rest is easy.
- You'll enter the final stage of labour. This is the part when the placenta is expelled. It takes around 30 minutes, and you may feel some mild contractions until it's completely out of your body.