Assessing Your Stage of Labor
The progression of labor is divided into three stages:
Stage One: This stage is divided into two parts and brings you from the first contraction all the way to being fully dilated (10 centimeters).
- Early Labor: This part covers the time during which a normal, thick cervix begins to thin and soften (four centimeters dilated).
- Active labor: During this time contractions become stronger, and you'll be between four and 10 centimeters dilated.
The time between seven and 10 centimeters is often referred to as transition. The transition phase of active labor is when contractions become quite strong and you may begin to feel more pressure in your bottom.
Stage Two: This is when pushing begins, and it ends with the delivery of your baby (generally after one to two hours).
Stage Three: This stage begins right after your baby is born and ends with the delivery of the placenta.
Here Comes Baby!
OK, so what if you are one of the statistics-defying women who suddenly feel the urge to push shortly after experiencing what they thought were just cramps and a sore back? What if you have a sitcom moment and find yourself telling your partner in no uncertain terms, "It's time! We are not going to make it!"
According to Dr. Robert Goldberg, MD, of Westport, Connecticut, calling 911 right away is the most important first step. "Most people do not live in such a remote area that they are beyond the reach of emergency help. So call 911 if you think delivery is imminent," he says. He recommends that women pay attention to their symptoms and try to call their doctor or midwife early so that he or she can help decide when it is time to go to the hospital (and avoid the panic or fear of a home delivery).
All this being said, if you are feeling increased pressure in your rectum and perineum, feeling the urge to push, and experiencing frequent and intense contractions, here's everything you need to know to ensure that you and your baby are safe.