Uterine contractions capable of causing the cervix to dilate. According to Domingos Mantelli (CRM-SP: 107,997), a gynecologist and obstetrician, this is the best definition of labor. “These are contractions of the uterus that combine with the dilation of the cervix and, consequently and later, with childbirth”, reinforces the doctor who is also the author of the book “Gestation: myths and truths under the obstetrician’s gaze”.
It is common, especially among “first-time mothers”, to have doubts about this important moment. And knowing the signs and stages of labor is important precisely to avoid “panic” and for the pregnant woman and the people who accompany her to know that “everything is going as expected”.
The stages of labor
Mantelli explains below that labor is divided into: prodrome of labor, latent phase of labor and active phase of labor.
Prodrome of labor
“In the prodrome, the woman has uterine contractions, however, they are contractions that still do not promote dilation of the cervix. But that end up generating a certain pelvic discomfort. These are contractions in which the uterus is preparing to effectively go into labor, a latent phase”, explains Mantelli.
Latent stage of labor
The latent phase, highlights the gynecologist and obstetrician, is marked by contractions and a very slow and gradual dilation of the cervix. “Usually around four centimeters dilated,” he adds.
Active phase of labor
“Next comes the active phase of labor, which is marked by dilation of the cervix, greater than four/five centimeters and which tends to evolve, on average, one centimeter per hour. But obviously this is not a rule”, explains Mantelli.
And the same goes for fitting the baby into the pelvis. “A woman can have the baby’s head embedded in her pelvis even before the onset of labor; or, sometimes, only at the end, during the expulsion period”, says Mantelli.
The expulsive period is, in fact, the last period of labor. “It’s when the woman is already fully dilated and the baby is now starting to descend towards the birth canal for birth”, highlights Mantelli.
Understanding the stages of labor is important to be able to know “the whole context” and then be able to identify in the best way each of the possible signs of labor.
6 signs of labor to watch out for
Check out what are the main indicators that a woman is going into labor.
1. Rhythmic contractions (contractions per minute)
Mantelli highlights that labor is characterized by rhythmic contractions, which have a certain frequency. “The contraction starts every half hour, every 20 minutes, every 15 minutes, every 10 minutes, every 5 minutes. It tapers off and has a rhythm,” she explains.
“Usually, at these times, the belly is hard and this stiffness takes around 30 to 40 seconds to pass. And every 5 or 10 minutes, the pregnant woman has a contraction. Depends on what pace you are. This is the characterization of a labor”, adds the gynecologist and obstetrician.
Mantelli explains that, with the contractions, the cervix dilates, which culminates in childbirth.
With the contractions and consequent dilation of the cervix, episodes of diarrhea may occur. But this, Mantelli points out, is not a rule, diarrhea may or may not be present during labor.
4. Abdominal discomfort
Mantelli explains that, along with the rhythmic contractions, abdominal and pelvic discomforts usually arise, with pressure on the lower abdomen.
5. Loss of mucus plug
Most of the time, Mantelli points out, the mucus plug is lost. With this, it is possible to notice an outflow of blood stains (a “spurt” of blood, which is the very mucous plug that closed the cervix).
6. Rupture of the amniotic sac or rupture of the amniotic sac
This is one of the most well-known signs of labor. It happens when popularly people say that “the stock market broke”.
The rupture of the water, points out Mantelli, can happen at any time, even before the beginning of labor (or, sometimes, at the end of labor, for example).
In addition, the amount of amniotic fluid that “leaks” from the bag can be very “discreet” (a drop, for example) or more significant; It varies a lot from woman to woman.
The guideline for a woman going into labor, according to Mantelli, is to monitor her contractions. “And eventually, if you have vaginal bleeding or a ruptured amniotic fluid sac, see if that fluid comes out in a greenish or bloody color,” she says.
“It is necessary to observe that she does not present vaginal bleeding. And whenever the contractions start, or the water breaks, the pregnant woman should inform her obstetrician, so that he can guide her properly. And also, so that he can indicate the exact moment that this patient should go to the hospital for hospitalization”, emphasizes the gynecologist Mantelli.
Video labor reports
You may already know that labor is never the same from one woman to another. And the reports below are proof of that.
Signs of when I went into labor
Fernanda Machado talks about the signs her body gave to warn that labor was about to come. And she also shares some simple and natural ways to induce labor for those who are already 40 weeks.
Exercises and massage for labor
In the video, Juliana Goes, with the guidance of her doula, shares tips on exercises with the Swiss ball and massages for pregnant women and for moments of labor.
18 hours of labor
In the video, Naná shows the entire process of labor, including the moments when she thought it was time for the baby to be born, but ended up returning home.
Normal and natural labor
In the video, Talita Scoralick shows all the stages of her labor, from the moment she started feeling the first contractions to Clara’s birth (through normal delivery).
Going into labor
Cristiane Alves tells how she began to feel the contractions of labor and the video shows until the moment of the birth of the baby, Mateus.
When labor really “got into gear”
The video shows the moment when Thiara Vilete begins to feel the contractions of labor and is taken from the mall (where she was) to the hospital for the birth of the baby (through normal delivery).
What I felt during labor
Thaís Bergamo says, among other points, that, 15 days before delivery, she has already started to notice some signs, such as, for example, a tighter intestine, discomfort in the belly. In the video you can see the full story.
It is worth mentioning that labor is never the same from one woman to another. Remaining calm, seeking only safe information and following your doctor’s guidelines are essential measures to ensure a safe and peaceful labor possible! Enjoy and ask all your questions about normal birth.
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