The Stages of Labor


Aren’t you glad to know that labor comes in stages?  Once you begin real labor, your body will systematically, and instinctively, perform certain aspects of labor and delivery that help physicians know where you are in the labor process.

Some experts say that labor comes in three stages, while others say it comes in four.

The stages of labor are normally divided by the progress of the cervix, once contractions begin.

The first stage of labor occurs at home. This is the stage that usually coerces you into going to the hospital; it starts with light, timely contractions that seem to remain constant. They begin a pattern or a rhythm, and will last until delivery. Many women may spend several days in early (or latent) labor with fairly predictable contractions that thin out and dilate the cervix. It is not unusual for you to have a bloody discharge, which can be identified as the mucous plug becoming dislodged (this may occur the day of labor, or several days or weeks beforehand).

Once you begin active labor, you will know. The timing between contractions will get shorter, lasting for a minute or more each as your cervix becomes completely dilated; and the contractions will become more painful and will feel stronger. When you are completely dilated, at 10cm, you are ready for delivery.

This first stage of labor can take a long time. On average, women spend 8 to 12 hours in the first stages of labor. Often, doctors will give women pitocin, or another medication, to help the cervix dilate more quickly. It is nice to have the freedom to walk around during this phase of labor. Some women may even benefit from taking a shower. Just make sure that you outline your wishes in your birthing plan.

What do you think?

The Stages of Labor

Tell us what you think!


  1. Nat says:

    It’s not uncommon for first time moms to be in early labor for a couple of weeks with contraction that come and go to help prepare the uterus and dilate the cervix. I was in “early” labor for 4 weeks and dilated from 2-5cm for that whole time before my daughter was born. Also your cervix can dilate and then close back up a bit during this time. think about it as preparing to run a marathon, your going to stretch out and work your muscles for some time before you do the full run your body does the same thing for labor, it “works out” and prepares it’s self for the real thing.

  2. ProudMomma says:

    this was all very comforting news

  3. gfeld says:

    Started with timely contractions at week 35 and no major progress put me back at home. Hope I will know when the real deal is here. It’s not my first yet so different from the other times, I feel like it is my first time around!!

  4. Tina says:

    This info is very helpful, being a first time mom I seriously have no idea of what to expect. This article kinda helps break down what’s going to happen.

  5. LICETT says:

    Thank you for this information is really detailed, is just what I needed

  6. Flo says:

    Very good info, I am also terrified of labor, but thankful that my husband and my sister will be there with me..

  7. Leah says:

    I am terrified about labor an delivery but all the info helps calm my fears a bit. Im still scared though.

  8. Layne says:

    Thankful for the info

  9. Dario says:

    Safe delivery to the moms to be..

  10. maricela says:

    i am scare because i have a heart transpalnt and this is my first baby,,i am 31 week pregnant

  11. PamelaPlus3 says:

    Yeah i think thats it! because my house is so not baby ready yet!

  12. PamelaPlus3 says:

    32wks… its getting so close!

  13. I think I’m mentally prepared but that could just b because I’m tired of being pregnant already.

  14. PamelaPlus3 says:

    VBAC scary thought!!

  15. MamaCat says:

    Not at all! Labor is definitely an uknown and each child is different so you have every reason to be a little nervous. I know I was – and I am nervous about how it will go my second time around!

  16. MamaCat says:

    I love how these articles say you will forget how bad labor was or how much it hurt. I didn’t forget at all. I just know that having my second is worht going through it all again 🙂

  17. I really hope i’m not in labor for hours on end

  18. Asia says:

    I hope this labor is last like my other four…the longest was 2hrs:)

  19. Stephanie says:

    I’m soo scared it’s my second time but 9yrs later


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