Process of Labor; What to Expect

After having been pregnant for nine months, you are probably eagerly waiting for the time when you will be in labor and have even discussed about the process with other mums. Perhaps you even watched a couple of videos to understand it better. Bracing yourself with adequate information on what to expect throughout the whole labour process might make the process much easier for you. Below is comprehensive information about the labour process and how to deal will all the stages involved.

Signs of Labor

Generally, there is no perfect prediction of the day that you are going to be in labour since the due date that your doctor gives is a point of reference. However, with a guide, it is possible to tell when it’s time. Some of these signs include:

  • Diarrhea and frequent loose stools
  • Contractions which are less than ten minutes apart
  • Ruptured membranes or fluid gushing out of your vagina
  • Bloody show or brownish discharge from your cervix

Stages of Labor

The process of labour is divided into three stages. These are as follows:

  i          First Stage

This is when the cervix opens and dilates up to 10cm. There is a contraction of the muscles of the uterus which helps the cervix shorten and soften so that it can dilate. During this time, you can expect contractions which will be short and irregular. There will also be the breaking of waters to show that the amniotic sac has ruptured. When you are in your first stage of labour, try to relax and have supportive people around you. Try to get yourself distracted and if possible try to sleep in between the contractions. You’ll need all the energy for the next stage. Read about what slows down the labor process here

   ii          Second Stage

It is during this stage when the baby moves down the vagina and is born. Read more on baby’s positioning here. It begins after the cervix has fully dilated and the baby’s head moves down the uterus into the birth canal. This is the stage where you push the baby out in a process that could last between 30 minutes and one hour. In case there are complications  vaginal birth may be impossible, leading to a Cesarean section. Read about  postpartum haemorrhage.

    iii.            Third Stage

After you have delivered your baby (or babies in the case of a multiple pregnancy), the placenta is then delivered, marking the third and final stage of labour. If you are healthy and have successful labour, the placenta will be delivered naturally. Otherwise, you may be offered a syntocinon injection on your thigh to help contract the uterus and speed up it’s delivery. The injection is preferred in most hospitals even for healthy mothers as it helps reduce blood loss after birth.

Once your baby is born, you will be observed for any tears, and in cases of the C-section, your womb be closed up after which you will be taken to the recovery room. You are now past the process of labour and can enjoy meeting your baby for the first time. 


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor

Last reviewed January 2019

 Sources: webmd, babycenter, nationalwomenshealth,, nhs

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