The period of labor and childbirth are one of the most difficult but also the most exciting moments in a female’s life. Understanding the stages of labor will help you be better prepared for this period. For the first-time moms it is hard to know when the labor begins. In some cases, it all occurs very quickly.

Every pregnancy is different and there is a wide variation in the length of labor. For women who are giving birth for the first time, labor often takes 10 – 20 hours. However, for some women, it can last much longer. On the other hand, for some women, the labor period is much shorter. The labor period is more quickly for women who have already given birth vaginally in the past.

Most women give birth between the 37th and 42nd week of pregnancy. However, there is no way to pinpoint when the labor will begin and the child will be born.
The process of labor and childbirth is divided into three stages:
First Stage:
During the first stage, the contractions begin. These contractions intend to be much longer, stronger and closer together as labor progresses. During this phase, contractions usually last between 30 and 60 seconds; they generally start 20 minutes apart and move to about 5 minutes apart. Eventually, these contractions will last 40-60 seconds and they will be coming often every five minutes. Contractions cause progressive changes in the cervix.

This stage ends when the cervix is fully dilated. This stage is divided into early labor and active labor. Early labor is characterized by a gradually thinning and the opening of the cervix, while the active labor is characterized by a rapid dilatation of the cervix, which ends with a total cervix dilatation. (The cervix should be dilated 10 cm).

The last part of active labor, when the cervix dilates from 8 to 10 centimeters, is called the transition phase. By the time the cervix is fully dilated the baby has usually descended and entered the birth canal.

Second Stage:
After the cervix is totally dilated the second stage of labor beings. This stage ends when the baby is delivered. It is often referred to as the pushing stage. It lasts an average of one and a half hour to two hours in first-time moms. In subsequent births, it may last anywhere from a few minutes to two hours.

Third Stage:
The third stage of labor is considered the stage after the baby is born and until the placenta is delivered. A couple of minutes after giving birth, the uterus begins to contract again and the placenta gets separated from the uterine wall. On average, the third stage takes about five to ten minutes.

Keep in mind that labor is different for every woman. Labor and delivery are also different for each of the pregnancies.

Sometimes labor can be induced. The decision to induce labor is often made by the doctor when the woman has passed her due date or when there are health problems regarding the baby or the mother.

Author's Bio: 

I am Amelia Grant, journalist, and blogger. I think that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. That is why I feel a strong intention to share useful and important things about health self-care, wellness and other advice that may be helpful for people. Being an enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle that keeps improving my life, I wish the same for everyone.

Our attention to ourselves, to our daily routine and habits, is very important. Things that may seem insignificant, are pieces of a big puzzle called life. I want to encourage people to be more attentive to their well-being, improve every little item of it and become healthier, happier, stronger. All of us deserve that. And I really hope that my work helps to make the world better.