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Stages of labour
There are three stages to labour. In the first stage the
cervix gradually opens up (dilates). In the second stage
the baby is pushed down the vagina and is born. In the
third stage the placenta comes away from the wall of the
womb and is also pushed out of the vagina.…read more

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The first stage of labour ­
The cervix needs to open about 10cm for a baby to pass
through. This is called 'fully dilated'. Contractions at the
start of labour help to soften the cervix so that it
gradually opens.
· Sometimes the process of softening can take many
hours before what midwives refer to as established
labour. This is when your cervix has dilated to at least
4cm. If you go into hospital or your midwifery unit before
labour is established, you may be asked if you would
prefer to go home again for a while, rather than spending
many extra hours in hospital or the midwifery unit. If you
go home, you should make sure you eat and drink, as
you will need the energy.…read more

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At night, try to get comfortable and relaxed. If you can,
try to sleep. A warm bath or shower may help you to
relax. During the day, keep upright and gently active.
This helps the baby to move down into the pelvis and
helps the cervix to dilate.
· Once labour is established, the midwife will check
you from time to time to see how you are progressing. In
a first labour, the time from the start of established labour
to full dilation is usually between six and 12 hours. It is
often quicker for subsequent pregnancies.…read more

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The second stage of labour ­
the baby's birth
· This stage begins when the cervix is fully dilated and
lasts until the birth of your baby. Your midwife will help
you to find a comfortable position and will guide you
when you feel the urge to push. Pushing
When your cervix is fully dilated you can start to push
when you feel you need to during contractions:
· take two deep breaths as the contractions start, and
push down
· take another breath when you need to
· give several pushes until the contraction ends
· after each contraction, rest and get your strength up for
the next one
· This stage of labour is hard work, but your midwife will
help and encourage you all the time. Your birth partner
can also give you lots of support. This stage may take an
hour or more, so it helps to know how you are doing.…read more

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During the second stage, the baby's head moves down
until it can be seen. When the head is visible, the
midwife will ask you to stop pushing, and to pant or puff
a couple of quick short breaths, blowing out through your
mouth. This is so that your baby's head can be born
slowly and gently, giving the skin and muscles of the
perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) time
to stretch without tearing.
· The skin of the perineum usually stretches well, but it
may tear. Sometimes to avoid a tear or to speed up the
delivery, the midwife or doctor will inject local anaesthetic
and cut an episiotomy. Afterwards, the cut or tear is
stitched up again and heals.
· Once your baby's head is born, most of the hard work is
over. With one more gentle push the body is born quite
quickly and easily. You can have your baby lifted straight
onto you before the cord is cut by your midwife or
birthing partner.
· Your baby may be born covered with a white, greasy…read more

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