During this first phase, the cervix will dilate 1 to 6 centimetres. The contractions will last for 50 to 60 seconds and be 5 to 10 minutes apart.
You will usually go through this phase at home. When the contractions are constant and 5 minutes apart, it is time to leave for the hospital. During this time, you will be nervous and won’t feel like drinking or eating. Stay calm and try to manage the pain.
This is the waiting period between labour and the dilation of the cervix. It's a time to rest, stay calm and try to preserve your energy. Walk in the room to activate the labour. Do some exercises to get the baby’s head down.
Thinning out of the cervix
The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus. Tightly closed during the whole pregnancy by a ring-shaped muscle, all the muscle fibres are now active to help dilate it (with the effect of the contractions). Eventually, it will keep dilating until the baby’s head passes through.
This is the beginning of the active labour. The contractions are faster and closer together. They will come every 2-3 minutes and last about 30 to 45 seconds. This is the best time for the cervix to dilate from 6 to 10 centimetres. This stage can be very quick or very long! Rest between your contractions and breathe deeply.
If you are thirsty, drink a little water or suck on ice cubes. Ask your spouse to help you with your exercises and make you comfortable with pillows and cushions You will need all of his help and moral support when the time comes to ask the medical staff a few favours (cutting the umbilical cord, for example). It is best to speak with your spouse about certain information he will need to pass on before the labour . If you wish to get an epidural or any other type of painkiller to ease the pain, he has to know.
The transition phase is the last step before pushing. The cervix is now 10 centimetres dilated. It is open to its full capacity and you will now have to push. Seeing as the contractions are now 1 to 2 minutes apart and last between 45 and 90 seconds, you will have to overcome the pain and not loose your self-control.
Use the techniques and exercises you’ve learned because they will help you make it through this last step. You might be tired and completely burnt-out. You might shiver and become very short-tempered with blasts of uncontrollable emotions. Tell yourself that the end is near and that your baby will soon be here, wrapped in your arms.
It’s now time for the last stretch! The baby is engaged in the birth canal and is ready for his big moment. Draw from all the strength and courage you have left and you’ll get through it!
The time has come to push. The nurse will come and place you in a gynaecological position on the birthing table. She will set up the necessary materials for the medical team.
A little incubator will be placed beside you with all the material needed for the baby’s arrival: baby clothes, a hat and a baby scale. If these objects are already beside you, it means that the baby’s head is visible. An overwhelming feeling will overcome you and give you the boost you need for the final sprint!
The team will guide you and tell you when and how to push. Even if the pain becomes unbearable and you’re at the end of your rope, listen carefully to your nurse and doctor’s advice. They are there to guide you.