Labor Stages | Fit Pregnancy

Labor Stages

Take It From The Labor Nurse

Her job description is pretty clear-cut: She’s a registered nurse who cares for the mother and baby throughout labor, birth and recovery. But besides monitoring the mom’s contractions and the baby’s heart rate, she cleans up all manner of messes; adjusts for quirks, temperaments and family dramas; coaches dads and pampers siblings; translates medical-speak; and serves as cheerleader, drill sergeant and best friend du jour. Your labor nurse has heard and seen everything and knows a lot; here’s what she wants you to know.

Common Interventions During Labor and Delivery

You may be planning a natural birth, but there are times when your health-care provider must intervene for health and safety reasons. Or you may find that standard hospital practices often include medical interventions. In either situation, it’s important that you be involved in the decisions related to your care.  You can do that by asking questions and openly communicating your desires to everyone in attendance.

5 Common Labor Complications

Of the 4.2 million deliveries that took place in the United States in 2008, 94 percent involved a “complication,” according to a recent U.S. government report. Yikes, right? Not really, says Marjorie Greenfield, M.D., a professor of OB-GYN at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. “Most ‘complications’ are irrelevant,” she says. “They have no impact on the health of the mother or the baby.” Here’s a look at the five most common potentially sticky scenarios.

{1} Umbilical cord issues

Different Types of Contractions and What They Mean

Because contractions generally signal that labor is starting, they can be viewed as a warning sign, a green light or a cue to ask, “Honey, the crib is set up, right?” But having contractions before you’re due doesn’t necessarily mean that Baby has requested an early checkout from Hotel Utero. Here’s what you need to know about uterine contractions—whenever they occur:

Retro Pain Relief

Nitrous oxide (N2O), aka laughing gas, is used in dental offices throughout the United States and in maternity hospitals worldwide. In fact, the majority of mothers in Europe, Australia and Canada—all places with better maternal and newborn health outcomes than in the U.S.—rely on it to reduce labor pain. N2O was widely used in American delivery rooms until the 1960s, when epidurals became a popular marketing tool for hospitals.

Power Positions

If your car stalled at the bottom of a hill, you certainly wouldn’t try to push it uphill. So why does it make sense to fight gravity by lying down during labor? This is just one reason why the standard hospital labor position—semi- or fully reclining—is not ideal. For one thing, when you’re lying on your back, your uterus compresses major blood vessels, potentially depriving the baby of oxygen and making you feel dizzy or queasy.

The Truth About Labor Pain

When Valerie Rowekamp’s labor started, it felt like an annoying case of menstrual cramps. During the hours that followed, the cramping became “downright uncomfortable, but not necessarily painful.” In fact, she gave birth without any pain medication. “I was surprised that it never really felt beyond my tolerance level, which is very low,” she said in her message on Fit Pregnancy’s Facebook page.

When Push Comes To Shove

While your birth experience will be as unique to you as your new baby, the phases of labor and delivery are the same for everyone. During pregnancy the opening of your uterus, the cervix, is firm and closed. As your due date approaches, you may experience mild contractions that help prepare your cervix for delivery: It becomes soft, stretchy and thin, a process called effacement.

Delivery Room Drama

We all know that giving birth rarely happens like it does on TV shows: Your water breaks; you gasp, exclaim, “She’s coming!” Then, lipstick refreshed, you cradle your newborn as your handsome husband looks on. Alternatively, we hope your experience isn’t going to be fodder for reality TV: A swarm of doctors sprints into the delivery room, shouting, “Get the NICU team, STAT! We’ve got a quadruple nuchal and need a cold-knife section!”

Epidurals: fact vs. fiction


Considering that at least 60 percent of American women today have an epidural for pain relief during labor, it’s surprising how misunderstood this procedure is. For starters, even doctors use the word “epidural” generically, to encompass three similar yet distinct procedures: epidurals, spinals and the combined spinal epidural (CSE), or “walking” epidural.

Since deciding whether or not to have an epidural means becoming informed about the benefits and risks well before labor begins, here are the facts to help you make sense of some common misconceptions.