The First Stage of Labour
There are three stages of labour and the first stage is usually the longest. If you and your partner are well informed about what to expect, then you will be better placed to cope with any difficulties.
During this stage, the regular uterine contractions have started; the cervix softens; shortens and dilates (open) from closed to open (0-10cm).
The first stage can be divided into an active and latent phase of which the latter is the longest. During the active phase, the cervix opens more rapidly and the baby moves deeper into the pelvis.
The first stage can last for many hours or it may be relatively short: timing varies from one woman to another, and between one pregnancy to another. The average length of established labour is 8-12 hours for a first baby; most of this time is usually the first stage.
17 Tips to cope with the First Stage of Labour
- Remember to conserve your energy but continue to complete normal daily activities.
- If labour begins at night, try to sleep or rest and relax as much as possible.
- Remember to breath! There is no correct or incorrect way, just breath to relax.
- Remember not to grind your teeth!
- Take a shower or a hot bath together or go for a walk, but don’t overdo it.
- Play cards, listen to music or try reading to distract you both from staring at the clock.
- Eat small, light carbohydrate meals in early labour eg scrambled eggs, tea and toast or soup.
- Keep in touch with your support person.
- Ask hubby to pack the car and the labour bag and also remind him of the camera.
- Drink regular drinks of water or juice, or chew on ice chips.
- Move around until you find a comfortable position.
- Stay relaxed and avoid fatigue.
- Be active and upright.
- Take each contraction as it comes. Ask hubby to give a massage and let him apply hot or cold packs or take a shower.
- Remember to empty your bladder every 1-2 hours.
- Above all, remember that each contraction brings you nearer to the moment when you will hold your baby.
- Leave for the hospital when you to. It is better to stay home for as long as possible where you are in familiar territory and where you can relax.
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