The stages of labour explained

You’ve probably heard about a million stories by now from your mother, mother-in-law, sisters, friends and even strangers about what to expect during the stages of labour. While some women may have had a traumatic delivery, there are many others who have had wonderful, holistic births.

With a little help and preparation, you’re more likely to feel confident about giving birth to your baby. To begin, let’s go through the basics and take a look at the different stages of labour you’ll experience.

The different stages of labour

While labour is conventionally bucketed into four key stages, early labour, active labour, first stage of delivery and placenta delivery, Director of ParentLink, Di Bustamante shares that  she tries not to relegate labour into a particular stage. “If you categorize into distinct stages, you place a woman into a box – women do not fit into boxes – and the baby is an active participant during labour and have a mind of their own”.

To Di, one should look our for ‘typical’ indicators that labour is starting:

  • The Braxton Hicks warming up surges become very rhythmic and regular.
  • Sometimes there is the uterine seal releasing (mucous plug)
  • Sometimes there is a birth show (bloody show)
  • Sometimes there is a big bowel movement or constipation
  • Sometimes the waters release (as much as Hollywood would like us to believe this is how all labours start, only 4% of labours start with the waters releasing)

Stages of labour – Advancing labour

Read more the final stages of labour on the next page…