The 3 Stages of Labor

Part: 1 | 2

The processes of birth are divided into three
separate stages of labor.

What are the different stages I’ll go through
during labor and birth?

What Are the Stages of Labor?

Stage one begins with the arrival of contractions that progress until your cervix is fully dilated. Stage one is split into two phases: early (known as latent) and active labor.

In early labor, the cervix slowly effaces (thins out) and dilates (opens). This is followed by active labor where the cervix dilates more rapidly with stronger contractions that occur more closely together. The final stages of active labor are often referred to as transition.

stages of labor

Stage two beings when you are fully dilated and ends with the delivery of your baby. The phase is sometimes referred to as the pushing stage.

Stage three begins immediately after the birth and ends with the separation and delivery of the placenta.

All pregnancies and labors are different and there can be enormous variation in the length of the stages of labor. For first-time mothers who are 37 weeks or more, labor can often take between ten and twenty hours.

As a general rule, labor progresses much more quickly for women who have previously given birth vaginally.

Inducing Labor

What is induced labor?

If you don’t go into labor naturally, your caregiver may use medication to start labor artificially, this is known as inducing labor. Similar methods can be used to speed up labor if it stops progressing naturally.

According to figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one in five births in the United States are induced.

Why would my labor need to be induced?

Induction will be recommended when it’s too risky to wait for labor to begin naturally.

This could be the case when you haven’t given birth by one or two weeks after your due date.

You will probably not be allowed to wait longer than this to give birth as it increases the risks to mother and baby. The placenta can become less effective at getting nutrients to your baby; this increases the risk of stillbirth or serious health problems to your baby.

Furthermore, if your baby grows to be too big in the womb, the stages of labor are likely to be more complicated, increasing the risk of C-section and other risks to mother and baby.

For more details on the stages of labor and delivery, click here.