Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on December 01, 2011
Keith A. Eddleman, MD. Director, Maternal-Fetal Medicine - Mount Sinai Medical Center.
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Keith Eddleman, MD (cont.): For most women what happens is you start having more frequent contractions and the contractions, ...you know you're close to term, and the contractions get more frequent, they get stronger, they get closer together, and then labor just kicks in and they become regular and strong. And most women know when they really get into true labor.
Keith Eddleman, MD (cont.): At that point, you know, depending upon where your cervix is starting out. If it's starting out a little dilated or if it started out closed, you go through the early stages of labor, which is usually about 0 to 4 centimeters of dilation and then after that, you enter what's called the active phase of labor, and that you know the contractions are pretty strong, they are usually every 3 – 5 minutes and the cervix is dilating pretty frequently from about 1.2 to 1.5 centimeters an hour, depending on whether it's your first baby or you've had a baby before.
Keith Eddleman, MD (cont.): And then once you get up to about 9 or 10 centimeters, which is complete or full dilation, then you are entering what's called transition. And that's transitioning from you know when the baby is inside the uterus to when the head starts to really descend into the pelvis and starts to come through the birth canal, and during that time some women have some waves of nausea, they feel an overwhelming sense of pressure, there are a lot of different symptoms that women feel.
Keith Eddleman, MD (cont.): After you reach full dilation, you start the pushing phase. And it takes certain women 5 – 10 minutes, certain women, 2 hours, and part of the answer is it depends on whether or not you have an epidural in place. Sometimes it takes a little longer if you have an epidural in place. And then after delivery, the baby. You have to wait for delivery of the placenta, or the afterbirth, and that usually takes probably 5 – 15 minutes after the delivery of the baby. And then the whole process is complete.
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